Indiana is the smallest US state west of the Appalachian Mountains, but it has the largest state capital east of the Mississippi. In fact, Indiana is the second-largest state capital in the United States. These 50 Indiana facts will help you learn more about the state.
The name Indiana has its own history.
It literally means “Indian Land” and was first used by a land company in Philadelphia. They did so in 1768 to honor the land’s original inhabitants, the Iroquois, and the Indiana Land Company used the name when they took control. The Virginia colonial government contested private control of the land, but it would not be resolved until after the American Revolution.
This occurred in 1798 when the United States Supreme Court stripped the Indiana Land Company of ownership of the land. The name Indiana was given by the US government to the western half of the Northwest Territory. This became the Indiana Territory, which evolved into the modern state of Indiana.
Indiana has its own state song.
In particular, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” written by Paul Dresser in 1897. It was one of the bestselling songs at the end of the nineteenth century, earning more than $100,000 for its publisher, Tin Pan Alley. Only a year after its release, the song received an anti-war remix and was even translated into Swedish. It was also one of the first songs to be recorded on a phonograph disc. The song’s popularity lasted for decades, eventually leading to its designation as the official state song of Indiana by the Indiana state legislature in 1913. It also inspired a film titled after the song, which was released in theaters in 1923.
Other symbols can be found throughout the state.
The official state bird is the cardinal, the official state flower is the peony, and the official state tree is the tulip tree. The Say’s firefly is Indiana’s official insect, and the Miami soil type is its official soil type. The Grouseland rifle is the official state firearm, and the sugar cream pie is the official state food. Indiana’s official state colors are blue and gold, and the official state rock is Salem limestone. The Wabash River is Indiana’s official state river, and the state’s official slogan is “Honest to Goodness Indiana.”
Indiana’s geography is distinct.
Northern and Central Indiana are both parts of North America’s Central Lowlands. Glaciers from previous Ice Ages have left their imprint on the land in both areas. The glaciers flattened the land beneath their weight in Central Indiana, leaving only low and rolling hills to rise from the plains in various places. Having said that, rivers formed by melting glacier ice carve deep valleys through the plains.
Northern Indiana is similar, but the glaciers left their mark in the form of moraines and kettle lakes. The former represents the limit of glacial growth during the previous Ice Ages, whereas kettle lakes formed from melting ice but did not have enough water to form rivers. Southern Indiana, on the other hand, has very rugged geography. The land here rises into hills before dropping into deep valleys, with erosion exposing the bedrock.
The highest point in the state is located on Hoosier Hill.
The hill is located in the Franklin township of Indiana’s Wayne County, about 383 meters above sea level. It is also considered private property and is currently owned by Kim Goble. Goble, on the other hand, allowed the Boy Scouts to build a trail with signs to the hilltop, where they set up a picnic area, in 2005.
A.H. Marshall climbed the hill decades ago in 1936, making history. As a result, he became the first person in US history to have climbed every high point in every state. Most recently, in 2016, an engraved boulder replaced the marker naming Hoosier Hill Indiana’s highest point. This happened after thieves repeatedly stole the signs indicating Hoosier Hill.
There are numerous bodies of water in the state.
The Wabash River in Indiana is the longest river in North America east of the Mississippi. It is estimated to be 764 kilometers long and cuts the state from northeast to southwest, as well as forming part of Indiana’s border with Illinois.
Other Indiana rivers include the Blue, Maumee, St. Joseph, White, and Whitewater. Indiana has 65 different creeks, rivers, and streams that run through its land. In addition, Indiana has over 900 lakes, with Lake Michigan forming part of the state’s northeastern border. Tippecanoe Lake, on the other hand, is the deepest lake in the state, Lake Wawasee is the largest natural lake, and Lake Monroe is the largest lake overall.
Indiana has a fairly consistent climate.
Almost all of Indiana has a humid continental climate with cold winters and hot but wet summers. The southern edges of the state, on the other hand, have a humid subtropical climate, which means they get more rain than the rest of the state. Summer temperatures in the state range from 18 to 21 degrees Celsius, while winter temperatures range from 10 to 4 degrees below zero.
The state receives approximately 1 meter of rain per year on average, but Southern Indiana can occasionally receive approximately 1.1 meters instead. While not located in tornado alley, Indiana is ranked eighth among the most tornado-prone states in the United States.
During the Seven Year’s War, Native Americans fought alongside the French in Indiana.
Historians refer to it as the French and Indian War because of how they fought together against the British. In fact, the French forces in North America relied almost entirely on their Native American allies. The war itself was only one part of a much larger conflict, the Seven Year’s War. Although the French initially held out, Britain’s superior navy eventually turned the tide of the war.
The French in Europe could neither send reinforcements to North America nor prevent the British from doing so. This meant that by the end of the war, the British had already conquered the majority of French Canada. They also drove Native American allies of the French from their ancestral lands. In the Treaty of Paris, Britain was able to force France to surrender the remainder of their New World colonies outside of the Caribbean Sea.
During Pontiac’s Rebellion, they fought the British once more.
It occurred between 1763 and 1766 as a result of policy changes brought about by British rule over former French territory. The British, in particular, stopped giving gifts to tribal chiefs, which the French had done as compensation for sharing their lands with the Native Americans. In order to prevent future rebellions, the British also prohibited the sale of gunpowder to Native Americans. However, by this time, the Native Americans had become reliant on firearms to hunt. Increased British settlement in North America heightened tensions even further.
This resulted in the outbreak of war in 1763, led by Odawa Chief Pontiac. Native Americans attacked colonial settlements and stormed British forts. The British, led by General Amherst, retaliated in kind, deliberately spreading smallpox. As a result, he was eventually replaced by General Gage, who negotiated the war’s end. The British also issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited colonial settlement on Native American lands.
During the American Revolution, George Clark led the Patriots in Indiana.
In 1779, the British occupied Fort Sackfort in the vicinity of Vincennes. The fort overlooked the Wabash River, giving the British control of the waterway. General Clark led a force of about 300 men to take the fort that year. Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton led a force of 500 British soldiers. After a two-day battle, the Patriots defeated the British, a victory praised by George Washington because General Clark’s men were made up of ordinary militia. More importantly, it cut British forces in North America off from the interior. It also allowed the Continental Army to bypass the British and launch an attack from the west. Finally, once the British agreed to recognize American independence, the new United States was granted the Northwest Territory.
During the early nineteenth century, fighting between the US government and Native Americans continued.
The US Army defeated the Western Confederacy in 1794, resulting in the Treaty of Greenville being signed a year later. This marked the start of annual payments from the US government to Native Americans, specifically the Wyandot and Delaware peoples. In exchange, the Native Americans agreed to cede the majority of their lands to white settlement.
The resentment from the war and treaty led to another war in 1810, when Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa formed a new Native American confederacy. The US Army, however, defeated the Native Americans once more in 1811, with Tecumseh dying in the Battle of Thames. His death effectively ended armed opposition to US control of the region, though Native American removals continued until the 1830s.
During the American Civil War, Indiana made significant contributions to the Union war effort.
Indiana supplied an estimated 210,000 Union soldiers, the majority of whom fought in the Western Theater. An estimated 25,000 of those men died, mostly from disease, with only an estimated 7,200 dying in battle. Indiana’s primarily agricultural economy at the time was also a significant benefit to the Union. Indiana supplied much of the food required to feed both the armies on the battlefield and the civilians at home.
The state’s location between the Great Lakes and the Ohio River was also advantageous, particularly with Indiana’s rail hubs. This made it possible for the Union to move men and supplies through the state as needed.
In the 1880s, the discovery of natural gas in Indiana sparked the state’s industrialization.
In 1886, they tapped the Trenton Gas Field for the first time. It was one of the world’s largest gas deposits at the time, covering an estimated 13,000 km2. Gas, as a cheap and clean fuel source, contributed to the growth of the glassmaking industry in Eastern Indiana. Other industries followed, beginning with rubber and progressing to iron and other metallurgical sectors. The gas was also piped to be used as fuel in power plants, with cities as far away as Chicago, Illinois, receiving gas from Indiana.
Unfortunately, due to a lack of industry experience and primitive technology at the time, the Trenton Gas Field was quickly depleted. Scientists estimate that leaks caused up to 90% of the gas to be lost in the atmosphere. Nonetheless, while the gas field was only active for a short time, it accelerated Indiana’s transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy.
WWII assisted Indiana in its recovery from the Great Depression.
Indiana had an unemployment rate of 25% to 50% at the height of the Great Depression. While federal aid began to aid recovery in 1935, the state did not fully recover until the outbreak of WWII. Sellersburg, for example, became a major ammunition production center for the United States Army.
Similarly, Evansville became a major manufacturer of military aircraft, such as the P-47 Thunderbolt. Northern Indiana supplied a large portion of the steel required to construct tanks, planes, and warships. Aside from putting people to work in factories, many others joined the US military. Not only men but also women, particularly for Red Cross and other relief organizations.
Following WWII, the state almost had a nuclear accident.
This occurred in 1964, when the ice on a runway caused a B-58 bomber to slide and crash, resulting in a fire caused by leaked fuel. The bomber was carrying five nuclear weapons at the time of the accident, one of which was designed to explode with the force of 9 million tons of TNT. Fortunately, the weapons’ safety systems performed as expected, and the nuclear cores did not explode.
Given that the accident occurred at Bunker Hill Air Force Base, only 19 kilometers from Kokomo, an explosion would have resulted in a massive disaster. As things stood, the fire continued to cause radioactive material to leak out, necessitating a large-scale cleanup operation by the US Air Force.
Indianapolis has been the state capital since the early 1800s.
The land on which the city now stands was originally owned by the US government. When Indiana became a state in 1816, the US Congress voted to donate the land to the new state. Settlers flocked to the area, the majority of whom were of Irish and German ancestry. They were also the first of modern Indianapolis’ large Catholic population to follow the Roman Catholic denomination. Nonetheless, the settlement did not become a city until 1820. The Indiana General Assembly designated the settlement as the new state capital that year. It was also the first official use of the name Indianapolis.
During the American Civil War, Indianapolis witnessed the Battle of Pogue’s Run.
Despite the name, the battle never occurred; the name was given in mockery of the incident that did occur. During the American Civil War, the Indiana branch of the Democratic Party held its state convention in Indianapolis on May 20, 1863. At the same time, rumors circulated that pro-Confederate groups planned to use the convention to launch a coup. As a result, Governor Oliver Morton sent guards to the convention, ostensibly for security but also to intimidate potential Confederate sympathizers.
This resulted in an incident in which Union soldiers disrupted the convention, publicly threatening anyone they suspected of sympathizing with the Confederacy or simply opposing the war in general. When the Democrats left town, Union troops stopped their trains until all passengers surrendered their weapons.
During the Industrial Revolution, the city became a focal point for the labor movement.
The 1913 Indianapolis Streetcar Strike, in particular, was remembered as a watershed moment for labor rights. The strike erupted in response to the Indianapolis Traction and Terminal Company’s refusal to meet their employees’ demands for higher wages and shorter working hours. They also discouraged their employees from joining unions and rejected a government proposal for labor arbitration. This resulted in a strike on October 31, a date was chosen specifically to put pressure on the elections the following week. On November 4, corporate strikebreakers attempted to resume services, resulting in a city-wide riot. The riot became so large that city police refused to follow orders to crush it.
On November 5, the city government declared martial law and activated the National Guard. The following day, an enraged mob presented a list of demands to the Indiana state legislature. Governor Ralston was able to calm the mob and persuade them to disperse, bringing the riot to a peaceful conclusion. It also prompted Indiana’s state legislature to pass the state’s first minimum wage laws, as well as recognize employees’ right to join unions.
A motorsport event is also named after the city.
The Indianapolis 500, or the Indy 500 as it is more colloquially known. Only the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans can compete with the prestige and fame of the Indianapolis 500. The event, which began in 1911, is held every year during the last weekend of May in its birthplace of Indianapolis. This also serves as Memorial Day Weekend in the United States, which honors all American soldiers who died in the line of duty. This is just one of many traditions associated with the event.
Other customs include a 33-car lineup at the event’s start, a performance of “Back Home Again in Indiana,” and the winner drinking a bottle of milk. Helio Castroneves, a Brazilian racer, currently holds the Indy 500 championship and has won it four times.
Indiana’s population is diverse.
Whites account for an estimated 85% of the population. German-Americans account for the largest demographic among whites, accounting for an estimated 23%. Following whites, African-Americans account for 10% of Indiana’s population. Hispanics come in third, accounting for an estimated 7% of the population. Hispanics are also the fastest growing ethnic group in the state. Asian-Americans account for an additional 3% of the population. Native Americans account for less than 1% of the total population. Surprisingly, an estimated 2% of Indiana residents do not identify as belonging to any one ethnic group. Instead, they self-identify as biracial or multiracial.
The United States military maintains several bases in Indiana.
The most important of these bases is the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division. It is located 40 kilometers from Bloomington City and covers an estimated 280 square kilometers, making it the world’s third-largest naval base.
The US Navy develops new technologies for its fleets at this base, which is located inland to protect against spies and attacks. For the Air National Guard, other bases include Fort Wayne and Terre Haute. Camp Atterbury, Shelbyville, and Muscatatuck are also Army National Guard bases. The US Army also had a chemical weapons storage facility in Newport until it was closed in 2008.
The state has made solar energy investments.
The federal government provides a 30% tax credit for any solar energy project in Indiana. The state currently has 136 MW of solar panels installed, with Indianapolis Airport’s solar farm having the highest output at 17.5 MW. The solar farm at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway comes in second place, with a capacity of 9 MW. Rockville, on the other hand, is home to the world’s largest single rooftop solar array, the 3.2 MW Solar II.
Solar energy could provide up to 18% of Indiana’s electrical needs, according to scientists. In addition, by October 2021, the state will have completed the largest solar energy project in the United States. When completed, Mammoth Solar will have approximately 3 million solar panels capable of producing 1 GW of electricity.
Indiana has also made investments in wind energy.
Indiana began large-scale wind power production in 2008, with Goodland I producing an estimated 130 MW of electricity. Wind power now generates an estimated 1.9 GM of electricity, accounting for approximately 5% of the state’s electrical needs. The Fowler Ridge Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in not only Indiana but the Midwest, with an estimated 750 MW of electricity production.
According to analysts, wind power in Indiana is expected to grow further, with 15 wind power projects currently under construction. Wind power in Indiana is expected to generate 40 GW of electricity by 2030, according to official statistics.
Indiana Literature’s Golden Age lasted from the late 1800s to the 1920s.
In 1880, former Union General Lew Wallace wrote the most famous work of the era, Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. In 1885, the poet James Riley also wrote Little Orphan Annie, which inspired the popular Broadway musical, Annie. At the same time, another Indiana native, George Ade, was writing for Broadway. His works include The County Chairman, published in 1903, and The College Widow, published in 1904.
Other notable writers of this era include Theodore Dreiser, a Communist partisan known for his social writings. Despite his celebrity, he faced criticism, if not outright hatred, from his peers and fellow citizens for his political beliefs.
Bob Ross, a well-known artist, was born in Indiana.
Bob Ross rose to prominence on television by creating and hosting the show The Joy of Painting. Ross painted live on the show from 1983 to 1994, explaining what he did and how viewers could do the same. He became particularly popular with viewers for his upbeat and casual instructional style, frequently cracking small jokes while painting.
Ross became famous for his catchphrase “let’s add some happy little trees,” with at least one tree appearing in 91% of his works. Ross, in fact, rarely painted people in his paintings. He instead painted natural landscapes like mountains and lakes. The majority of the human presence he painted involved cabins, but even those were usually empty and uninhabited. Ross died in 1995, but his celebrity lasted and continues to this day, even in the age of the internet.
Basketball became well-known in Indiana.
Basketball was invented by James Naismith in Massachusetts in 1891, but it didn’t become a big hit until high schools in Indiana started playing it. When Naismith went to see a high school basketball game in 1925, he was surprised by a crowd of 25,000 people. As a result, he wrote that Indiana had become the true birthplace and center of basketball.
Indiana has produced the most NBA players of any state in the United States. Indiana has its own NBA team, the Pacers, who have won nine division titles so far. The team has also produced six Hall of Famers, including Roger Brown, Mel Daniels, and Alex English.
Indiana also takes part in other sports.
Indiana is home to several NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, who play in the American Football Conference’s South Division. They’ve won two championships since then, the first in 1970 and the second in 2006. The Hammon Pros and the Muncie Flyers are two other NFL teams from Indiana.
Indiana is also represented in other sports, such as baseball by the Evansville Otters and the Indianapolis Indians. For ice hockey, there are the Evansville Thunderbolts, Indy Fuel, and Fort Wayne Komets. College sports are also popular in Indiana, with the Indiana Hoosiers having won five NCAA and 22 Big Ten Conference championships.
The state has a well-developed infrastructure network.
The state’s major international airports include the Indianapolis International Airport and the South Bend International Airport. The Terre Haute Regional Airport primarily serves the Air National Guard, but private planes also use it. Indiana is crossed by at least 13 different interstates, as well as over a dozen federal highways that connect to other states.
Indiana also has approximately 6800 kilometers of the railroad, 91% of which are Class I railroads. The state also has three major ports, Burns Harbor, Jeffersonville, and Mount Vernon, which serve an estimated 70 million tons of cargo each year, along with other minor ports.
The same can be said of Indiana’s educational system.
Indiana first mandated public education in 1816, but due to a lack of funds, implementation did not begin until the 1850s. Even so, public education would not become a reality throughout the state until the 1870s.
Today, more than 90% of students in Indiana receive their primary and secondary education in public schools. Similarly, it is estimated that half of all college students in Indiana attend state-funded institutions. Indiana University, the state’s largest university, was founded in 1820 and is also a state-funded institution. In addition to the mandatory curriculums, Indiana allows students to pursue vocational education.