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In the early years most people made a living by farming, limestone extraction and timbering for the furniture industry. One early industry was the salt works in 1822 and the Virginia Iron Works, which made a variety of iron kettles and other goods. Seward's blacksmith shop opened in 1821. Seward was most famous for creating the courthouse fish and beautiful iron fences.
A limestone mill was opened in the Stinesville area in 1827. Several limestone mills were built by the 1860's. The coming of the railroad in1853-54 made travel easier and made transporting limestone more feasible. New communities grew up along the railroad. Showers Brother Furniture, Oaks Manufacturing, and Pedigo Perfection Washing Machine were some of the early businesses. Early banks included First National Bank Workingmen's Building Loan Fund & Savings Association and Monroe County Bank. Public education was required by the state legislature and graded schools opened in Bloomington after the Civil War.
The 1900's brought many changes and growth to the area. Changes included improved roads, Rural Free Delivery mail service, another railroad, Bloomington Hospital, sanitary water, city sewers, and paved streets and sidewalks in town. The limestone industry continued to grow. City parks were developed. Showers Furniture built another plant, and business thrived. The Depression hit Monroe County hard. The WPA, PWA and other New Deal programs employed many men in the area.
In 1939 the city bought land west of town for an airport and completed it in 1944 (now the county airport). RCA bought one of the Showers plants in 1940 and made radios. After WW II they built televisions sets. WW II affected everyone. During the war, there were more female students than male students at IU. After the war students turned to the university in record numbers, with many veterans using the GI bill to help with the cost of their education.
Many businesses grew after the war, and national companies joined RCA in locating plants in Monroe County, including General Electric, Westinghouse, and Otis. Entrepreneur William Cook and his wife Gayle move to Bloomington in 1963 and started a medical device company. They grew the business into Cook, Inc, an international company. Over the years other companies have been developed by Cook, Inc.
In the period between the late 1950s and the 1970s, some of the older business closed. Showers sold their business and Seward's closed. The limestone companies also suffered during this time. College Mall opened in 1965 and brought a new way of shopping to town.
Water problems arose again. Lake Lemon was built in the 1950s. The US Corps of Engineers built Lake Monroe in Salt Creek Valley in the early 1960s for flood control for the White River and its tributaries.
School consolidation became popular in the 1960s. The county now includes the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Richland-Bean Blossom School Corporation.
Bloomington evaded a nuclear strike on Doomsday but the state capital, and the state's largest city, Indianapolis, was destroyed by two airbursts above downtown and on the north side. The Crane Army Ammunition Activity depot was also hit. Mayor Tomilea Allison along with the chief of police declared martial law and tried to make contact with the outside world. With Indianapolis wiped out, Bloomington's main line of communication was cut. Soon refugees that poured in from the Indianapolis area and elsewhere put a heavy strain on Bloomington's resources.
Shortly thereafter, Bloomington fell into anarchy, riots beginning over food, water, and other necessities. More violence erupted over the absurd claim by some fringe white supremacists that the events of Doomsday were due to the "colored people." However these groups were quickly quashed. Despite this it took three weeks before some sense of order was restored in the city, with some pockets still have violence persisting. Over those three weeks over 1000 people were killed, including the mayor Tomilea Allison, forcing the chief of Police to take up the role of acting mayor.
By the spring of 1984 with no contact with anyone short of a few wandering refugees, the leaders of Bloomington began to contemplate seceding from the United States. Many thought the act was premature and that it was too early to give up on America. A compromise was reached, Bloomington would secede but would quickly rejoin the United States upon contact with them. On July 4th 1984 the provisional secession from the United Sates was announced with the hope that one day soon they could rejoin their fellow Americans. However that day never came.
Throughout the late 1980's Bloomington had sporadic contacts with Evansville via ham radio but no formal meetings were ever held. In 1991 scouts from Kentucky reached the outskirts of Bloomington and were given a hero's welcome. Formal relations were established in 1992 with the signing of a trade agreement and a pact of friendship.
In 1998 Bloomington became a part of Kentucky officially named "The State of Bloomington". It has since become a key center for future exploration missions into Northern Indiana.
The Democratic Party recently has dominated city politics and has retained the Govenerors's office since 1989. The current Governor of the city-state is Mark Kruzan and the Democrats control the executive council 10-1. Bloomington's liberal outlook has been influenced by the younger population which dominates much of the city pre-doomsday, as well as the presence of Indiana University which has a reputation of having a large liberal student body.