A new visitors center branch in the town of Hope will open on Saturday, a new partnership between the Columbus Area Visitors Center and the Yellow Trail Museum.
The visitors center closed the previous satellite office in Hope at the end of the last year after a trial period. Previously, the Hope Area Chamber of Commerce operated a welcome center for the town. That closed in 2014.
Barb Johnson, director of the museum on the northwest side of the Town Square, says that the new partnership will allow the volunteer-operated museum to be open regular hours, including some weekday opportunities for visits. Beginning Saturday the museum will be open Thursdays-Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., and with extended hours during special events in town.
Saturday’s opening is considered a soft opening as the center is still getting all of its furnishings in place. At first, the center will be offering visitors information just for the broader Columbus and Bartholomew County area. But eventually, the center will also have Hope-specific activities and information.
Johnson says Hope’s founding as a church town for the Moravian Church makes it unique and calls is a perfect example of an Indiana small town.
The Yellow Trail Museum is named after an advertising campaign that took place in the early 1900s, aimed at drawing drivers to Hope and its mechanic’s shop.
From White River Broadcasting’s Bicentennial Moment series:
In 1915, Elda Spaugh opened a garage and gas station in the town of Hope, with the intention of servicing the cars in the community. But it became apparent that there weren’t enough cars locally, so he came up with an advertising plan to draw drivers from as far as Greensburg and Shelbyville. He and his welder painted yellow bands around fence posts and poles along the roads leading to those other area communities. Once that was done, he sent out cards urging drivers to “Visit Spaugh’s Garage, the Home of the Yellow Trail.” On the back of the card he included a convenient map of the routes leading to downtown Hope.
Soon, people asking for directions to Hope were told to follow the Yellow Trail. In 1975, a group of Hope leaders opened a museum in town and decided to call it the Yellow Trail museum in honor of Spaugh’s efforts to put Hope on the map. Parts of the Yellow Trail have been repainted over the years including in 1980 for the Hope sesquicentennial and in 1998 when the Yellow Trail Museum bought its long-time home building in town.
For more on Hope history and the Yellow Trail Museum, you can visit yellowtrailmuseum.com