Anyone who has traveled extensively across the United States has no doubt encountered some small towns with rather hilarious, if not somewhat peculiar, names. From Monkey’s Eyebrow, AZ to Cut Shin, KY, it seems there is no end to the list of oddly-named places in our country. But Frenchlick, Indiana? You’ve got to be kidding. Sounds like a town whose name needs to be censored. Picture this scene: the traditional American family has arrived at the Frenchlick border, SUV loaded down with luggage and the impatience of youngsters itching to escape the confines of the vehicle. And just after rolling past the “Welcome to…” sign, one of the children decides to voice the inevitable question: “Daddy, what’s a frenchlick?” You laugh, but I’m sure it’s happened.
Located in Indiana’s Orange County, Frenchlick (population 1,941 according to the 2000 census) boasts an interesting history as a French trading post. Founded in 1857, the town had previously been known as Salt Spring, Indiana, so named because of the area’s sulfur springs, which were commercially exploited. Frenchlick later became famous throughout the nation as a “spa town”, and soon attracted the attention of famous individuals such as boxer Joe Louis, composer Irving Berlin, and gangster Al Capone. These men flocked to the area for the several newly-established gambling casinos that had sprouted during the early 20th century. During World War II, the Chicago Cubs baseball team held their 1943 spring training camps in Frenchlick, being certain not to impede the activity of the war railway transports.
The 2000 census found that Frenchlick is currently home to over 513 families. The population density was 1,196.3 people per square mile (462.6/km2) (www.frenchlickindiana.com). Racially, the town is comprised of 94.18% whites, 3.66% African Americans, 0.26% Native Americans and 0.41% Asians. The 2000 census also found that the median income for a household in the town was $27,197, while the median income for a family was $36,583. Over eighteen percent of the population is below the poverty line.
Interestingly, the town also has an extensive history of being mentioned in several famous television sitcoms, including Home Improvement (Tim Allen, 1991-1997), Cheers (1982-1993) and Gilmore Girls (2000-present). During the Home Improvement episode, Tim’s oldest son Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan) joked that Frenchlick was the only good thing about the state of Indiana, after mother Jill (actress Patricia Richardson) revealed she desired to move to Indiana for a career opportunity with an adolescent psychology center. The town was also mentioned by notable sportscaster Stuart Scott during an NBA on ESPN ad.
If you’re interested in traveling to Frenchlick, the three-star Frenchlick Springs Hotel is located at 8670 West State Road and sits on over three-thousand acres of beautiful land, right next to the Hoosier National Forest in the “Rolling Hills of Southern Indiana.” (www.frenchlickindiana.com). It is about an hour’s drive from Louisville, Kentucky. While staying at the hotel, guests can enjoy the nearby twenty-seven hole championship golf course, two world-class spas, The Frenchlick Casino, horseback riding, tennis, bowling and more. So the next time you’re trekking through Indiana, why not make a stop in one of the most oddly-named towns in the U.S.?