In the 1800s steamboats made Jacksonport a thriving river port. During the Civil War, the town was occupied by both Confederate and Union forces because of its crucial locale. Jacksonport became county seat in 1854, and construction of a stately, two-story brick courthouse began in 1869. The town began to decline in the 1880s when bypassed by the railroad. The county seat was moved in 1891 to nearby Newport, and Jacksonport's stores, wharves and saloons soon vanished.
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