Indiana is known for being diverse in culture, politics, and tourism. There’s even a festival held each year where thousands gather to celebrate the Midwest spirit. There are many fun facts about Indiana that makes the state unique from others.
Quick Facts And Statistics About Indiana
- Capital: Indianapolis
- Population: 6.8 Million (17th Populous State in the U.S)
- Land Area: 36,418 sq mi / 94,320 km² (38th Largest in U.S)
- Nickname: The Hoosier State
- Abbreviation: IN
- Statehood: December 11, 1816 (19th U.S State)
- State Bird: Cardinal
- State Flower: Peony
Historical Facts About Indiana State
Indiana has a rich history dating back over 200 years. Here are some interesting facts about the Hoosier State and its history.
Settlement In Indiana Dates Back To The Conclusion Of The Last Ice Age
Glaciers in the northern hemisphere began to melt as the Ice Age came to a close around 8000 B.C. At this time, people first entered North America and began spreading southward.
Paleo-Indians are the name given to this group of ancient people that roamed the continent and eventually made their way to Indiana.
While some civilizations and customs died out through time, the descendants of Paleo-Indians generally progressed toward more sophisticated social structures. These cultures were largely stationary, spending most of each year in a single area.
The French Were The First Europeans To Set Foot In Indiana
In 1679, the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, crossed Indiana for the first time. Paddling from Lake Michigan up the St. Joseph River, La Salle and his troops eventually arrived at the future site of South Bend, Indiana.
From South Bend, they paddled a little distance overland to the Kankakee River, and from there, they paddled across northern Indiana and central Illinois to the Illinois River.
During the Seven Years’ War, the British captured Indiana from the French.
The French Were The First To Set Up Shop In Indiana, But The British Quickly Followed
France and Britain came to the area because fur trafficking was so lucrative, but neither country intended to stay permanently.
Britain slowly snuck in from the east, and France advanced from the north. Fighting between the French and the British was virtually nonstop by the 1750s.
After France’s loss in the Seven Years’ War, the region was given to Britain, but the local Native Americans remained on the French side.
For 162 years, the state seal of Indiana was used unofficially.
The State Seal Of Indiana Features A Serene Colonial Setting
The sun is hidden behind the hills in the seal but can be seen shining on the horizon. A woodsman is cutting down a tree in the foreground, scaring away a buffalo in the background.
The use of the state seal dates back to 1801, but it wasn’t accepted as such until 1963.
Mark Spitz From Indiana Won A Record 7 Gold Medals At The 1972 Olympics
Mark Spitz, who won a record-breaking seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics, gave Indiana University its greatest moment of glory in Olympic swimming. Although Michael Phelps surpassed Spitz’s total in 2008, he still needs to beat Spitz’s world records in any of the seven events.
The Very First Organized Baseball Game Was Played In Indiana
A historic first baseball game was played in Fort Wayne, Indiana, between National Association of Professional Baseball Players members.
The Cleveland Forest Cities and the Fort Wayne Kekiongas played at night on May 4, 1871. There were about two hundred spectators there to witness Kekiongas’s deserved 2-0 victory.
Interesting Facts About Indiana For Travelers
Here are some useful facts about the state of Indiana to know if you are planning a trip.
Indiana Is Home To Many States Parks
Indiana is home to 24 state parks. Brown County State Park is by far the largest and most frequented. The park’s popularity stems partly from its numerous autumnal activities. If you are an outdoors lover, there’s plenty of nature to explore.
Indiana Is Home To 43 Historical Landmarks
Indiana also boasts an impressive number of national landmarks, with 43. Ancient earth mounds, a courthouse, carousels, factories, cotton mills, aqueducts, racetracks, war memorials, churches, a covered bridge, and more can all be found on the list.
Furthermore, there are also many famous non-national landmarks in Indiana that is worth checking out.
Indiana is Home To Many Popular Figures
Indiana is home to several Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, including biographer Albert Beveridge, scientist Harold Urey, journalist Ernie Pyle, and economist Paul Samuelson.
Greensburg’s Tower Trees
Greensburg locals in the 1870s saw a tiny sprout emerge from the base of their courthouse spire. A tree had found its way into the cracks of the roof, 110 feet in the air.
Various other shoots began to emerge. While that tree was being cut down, two more trees appeared and remained for over a century. All but two were cut down, and the surviving giant grew to be 15 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter.
Indianapolis Was The Site of Elvis Presley’s Last Concert
Market Square Arena in Indianapolis was the site of Elvis Presley’s final concert in 1977. Three months after his performance, he passed away. Today, the Market Square Arena is long gone, but the city still honors one of its most famous visitors.
Indiana Is Home To The Most Covered Bridges In The World
Historic Parke County in Indiana features more covered bridges than any other county in Indiana and perhaps any county worldwide. The county is home to 32 of these picturesque bridges. Many call Indiana the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.”
The Indianapolis 500 has been held annually (or close to annually) since 1911
On May 30, 1911, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 took place at what is now known as the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway.
Ray Harroun won the event and brought home the trophy by finishing in 6 hours and 42 minutes, which is a long way below the current record times. The race has occurred annually since 1911, except during World Wars I and II.
The Speedway boasts the world’s greatest fixed seating capacity of over 250,000, making it the largest sporting facility in the world. The maximum capacity is 400 thousand people on busy race days.
Fascinating Cultural Facts About Indiana
Below are some popular Indiana cultural facts you need to know about.
The Amish People
Many like their baked products and peaceful neighborhoods, but most can’t fathom why anyone would choose to live without modern conveniences like telephones, televisions, and plumbing.
People from the outside world are curious about the Amish way of life and enjoy visiting, but by the end of the day, they are ready to return to the conveniences of the modern world.
The First Female Millionaire In The Country Was From Indiana
Madam C. J. Walker was the first self-made female millionaire in the United States. After perfecting a method to manage curly hair with a conditioning treatment, she shot to fame. Although she was born in Louisiana, most of her success occurred in Indiana.
The Founder of KFC is actually from Indiana, not Kentucky!
If you asked the average person where Colonel Sanders came from, they might say Kentucky.
While Sanders is best known for his fried chicken, he was born and raised in the little hamlet of Henryville, Indiana.
After serving in the U.S. Army, he took some time off to travel around the country before settling in Kentucky to create the company that would become KFC.
Collegeville, Indiana, Hold The Record For The Highest Temperature In The State
The state record high temperature was recorded in Collegeville, in northwest Indiana, on July 14, 1936, at 116 degrees Fahrenheit (46.67 degrees Celsius), while the state record low temperature was recorded in New Whiteland, in central Indiana, on January 19, 1994, at 36 degrees below zero degrees Celsius (-37.78 degrees Fahrenheit).
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Other Fun Facts About Indiana
The Gas Pump Inventor Was From Indiana
We can fill our gas tanks at the pump with Sylvanus F. Bower of Fort Wayne, Indiana. He developed the first practical gas station dispenser.
The Alexandria Giant Ball Paint
People from all around the world can come to this massive painted sphere and add their own colors. It hangs in an Alexandria store selling paint and has thousands of layers already. Weird, yes, but we can’t get enough of it.
The Polar Plunge
One of the most peculiar things that Indiana people like is participating in this dangerous winter event. People often wear swimwear to these events, which occur around New Year. No one knows why they observe this peculiar custom.
Discovering More Fun Facts About Indiana
These are just a few of the interesting facts about Indiana state. Indiana has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. The Native American Indians inhabited the area before European settlers arrived. They called themselves the Ho-Chunk Nation and lived along the Mississippi River.
Later, French explorers moved into the region and established settlements. The United States acquired the land from France during the Revolutionary War. There is plenty more to discover in this state. Plan a visit yourself to experience and uncover more historical and cultural facts about Indiana.