Due to impending inclement weather and extreme cold in the coming days, the Aurora Fire Department is providing public shelter at the fire station at the top of Trester Hill at 5950 Dutch Hollow Road, Aurora IN, 47001. If you have any questions or concerns, the non-emergency line for the fire department is 812-926-1122.
We hope you and yours stay safe and warm this holiday season.
Please scan the QR code below to get directions to the fire station from the Aurora Public Library.
“Our distilleries are the best and our breweries cannot be beaten. So great is the demand of the Crescent Brewing Company of Aurora, that the Big Four R.R. has built a track from Lawrenceburg a distance of four miles, for its trade.”
The Gaff brothers arrived in Aurora in the mid 1800’s: James arrived in 1841, Thomas in 1843, and John followed in 1845. Upon their arrival, they were already promising young businessmen. When Thomas was young, he learned the distilling business from a Brooklyn uncle named Charles Wilson, and he and his brothers, James and John, opened a distillery in Philadelphia. After moving to Aurora, Thomas and James established the Aurora Distilling Company, later renaming it the T. & J.W. Gaff & Company. This distillery was located in the building that is now known as Aurora Recycling, 306 Importing Street, and manufactured rye, bourbon and Thistle Dew scotch whiskey
The brothers then turned their interests to brewing. In 1873 the Crescent Brewery was constructed by Charles Bauer. The brewery was a six-story stone and brick building and encompassed a significant section of early Aurora. It contained 1,700,000 bricks and was located at what is now known as the intersection of Decatur, Market and Fifth streets. At this time, the gentlemen reorganized themselves as the Crescent Brewing Company. The brewery was well known for its Aurora Lager Beer which they exported nationally and internationally. It was known to be shipped as far away as Germany.
In 1876, Thomas Gaff purchased Aurora’s first fire engine. It was named the Thomas Gaff in his honor. In 1891, the brewery experienced a terrible explosion and fire which killed two employees. The Thomas Gaff established a world steam engine record of pumping water continuously for 72 straight hours to extinguish this fire.
During the 1890’s, the Cincinnati Breweries Company took over the Crescent Brewery and in 1885 it reorganized as The Jung Brewing Company. This company was very short lived and the business and buildings were vacated by 1911. Left vacant and abandoned the buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished by 1930. Today, 148 years later, only remnants of the brewery remain – the wall and sidewalk located on the right side of Market Street and the two large caverns tucked into the hillside between Market and Decatur. The caverns still can be viewed across the street from Aurora’s Lesko Park and someday soon. may be revitalized as home to the Crescent Brewery Park.
Today, Aurora again has The Crescent Brewery and Aurora Lager Beer. In 2008, Dan and Lani Valas opened Great Crescent Brewery in a small store on Second Street. Today they have expanded to a historic building which in 1843 was the warehouse for the Thomas and J.W. Gaff Distillery. Ironically the brewery is located across from what remains of the Gaff’s Aurora Distilling Company, recognized today as Aurora Recycling.
These are but a few of the fascinating facts about the Great Crescent Brewery and the Gaffs, both very important in early Aurora history. Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other contributions the Gaffs made to Aurora. The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks. The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!
The recorded history of the Ohio began in the late 17th century when French explorers reached the Ohio River, a river the Iroquois called O-y-o or “great river”. For many years the majestic Ohio has bestowed Aurora its many gifts along with its rage. Through the years Aurora has experienced numerous floods gifted us by the great Ohio; 1881, 1883, 1913, and 1993, just to name a few. The most memorable one was in January 1937.
The 1937 Flood is one of the greatest disasters in Aurora history. The heavy rain began on January 9th and continued through January 23rd stopping for only brief intervals. This, combined with melting snow, raised the river well above flood stage. Aurora, along with communities throughout the Ohio Valley, was overwhelmed, without electricity, and short on basic needs. The scale of this flood surpassed all previous floods and left extensive damage throughout the town. Cleanup and reconstruction began immediately, but unfortunately took years to complete.
In 1937, the water level at its highest was 81 feet, reached to the front door of the Aurora Public Library, and forced our library to close. There was no loss of books but there was heavy loss of materials stored in the basement. Also, the flood affected the train depot which now houses the Local History Library. In 1937, the building was a working train depot and the railroad tracks were owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Both libraries have the plate showing the height of the water on the building.
The Baptist Church, a large brick church on Main Street was finished in 1875. It was one of the finest churches in southern Indiana. The Church survived the ’37 flood waters only to be destroyed by a fire June 4, 1937, due to electrical damage caused by the devastating flood. For over a year, Sunday morning services were held in the Palace Theater (currently the Fusion Salon & Day Spa) on Second Street.
These are just a few of the intriguing facts about Aurora during the 1937 Flood. Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other floods that plagued our city throughout the years. The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks. The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!
Experience the magic of Christmas with this new musical from the Virginia Repertory Theatre! This play is free for all community members, and three performances makes it possible to fit this in with all the wonderful Miracle on Main events in downtown Aurora. Thanks to St. John’s Lutheran School for letting the Aurora Public Library District use their building!