WEST BADEN SPRING, Ind. (WTHR) — This edition of Chuck's Big Adventure is special. Special because we are taking our Sunrise fans to some special Indiana getaways that are magical, musical and in many cases moving.
The first stop is special to me...very special.
It's hard to believe that nearly 40 years ago, my bride and I left our wedding in Du Quoin, Illinois to make the three hour drive, (in my 1972 AMC Gremlin) to the French Lick Sheraton Resort. My new job only allowed me three days for a wedding and honeymoon so our adventure in paradise had to be someplace close.
The resort was great...a little rough around the edges but nice.
My how things change!
The French Lick Resort is now a world class resort facility with a nearly half billion dollar infusion of cash, brick and mortar over the past few years.
There are several separate areas for guests to enjoy. The French Lick Springs Resort main hotel is "kid friendly." There are indoor and outdoor pools, a bowling alley, and a foot golf area. The buildings here are old...this being interpreted means...expensive to keep up. Staff spent the better part of a year just figuring out the restorative lighting in the lobby area. They are now saving energy and converting to LED lights while retaining the integrity of the original structure. It is simply beautiful inside and out.
Seeing people having an ice cream outdoors on the veranda, you wonder if they are sitting in the place President Franklin Roosevelt sat decades ago.
My favorite part of the resort though is the West Baden Springs Hotel. Merged into the French Lick complex by the Cook family, West Baden has been restored to the glory that had it named as the 8th wonder of the world in 1902.
From the distance it looks like a fairytale castle, but walk inside and your jaw is sure to drop. In fact, one of the historians here said people can't believe something like this is in Indiana.
When I saw the building for the first time in 1979, it was on death watch. It was part college campus, part sad, deteriorating remnant of a bygone era.
Today, all of the charm of its original construction is back with beautiful decorative work completed by the Connor-Schmidt company of Milwaukee. It is a beautiful experience.
What a start to our July edition of Chuck's Big Adventure. In fact, I liked it so much, we may be coming back for a 40th anniversary celebration!
The Indiana Railway Museum is located in French Lick, Indiana. Tickets for adults range from $20 to $40 and tickets for children 2-11 range from $10 to $40.
The Wilstem Ranch is "nestled on 1,100 acres in the heart of Southern Indiana between Paoli and French Lick" and allows you to interact with big animals.