74 Fun & Interesting Facts About Indiana

Are you ready to discover a state known for fast cars, beautiful parks, and exciting basketball? Let’s zoom into Indiana, a place where adventure and history meet at every corner. From the world-famous Indianapolis 500 race to the bustling basketball courts, Indiana is full of excitement and surprises. So, lace up your sneakers, and let’s dive into some cool facts about Indiana!

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First up, did you know that Indiana is called the “Crossroads of America”? That’s because it has more interstate highways crossing through it than most other states. This makes Indiana a major hub for people traveling across the country. It’s like the heart of America’s road network!

Indiana is also famous for the Indianapolis 500, one of the most well-known car races in the world. Every year, drivers race at incredible speeds around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and thousands of fans come to watch. The atmosphere is electric, with the roar of engines and cheers of the crowd filling the air!

But there’s more to Indiana than just racing. It’s also a state crazy about basketball. Known as the “Hoosier State,” Indiana has produced some of the greatest basketball players and teams in the history of the sport. From high school gyms to big-time college arenas, basketball is a big deal here.

And let’s not forget about Indiana’s beautiful outdoors. Places like Brown County State Park show off the state’s natural beauty with stunning fall colors, rolling hills, and peaceful trails. It’s a perfect place for a family hike or a picnic under the trees.

Are you excited to learn more facts about Indiana? From its fast cars and basketball fever to its scenic beauty and crossroads charm, Indiana is a state full of fun and fascinating stories. Let’s keep exploring and discover all the amazing things that make Indiana a great place to learn about and visit!

Ready to learn more about different parts of the country? Check out our Facts about Louisiana and our Facts about Missouri.

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Facts About Indiana

  1. Indiana’s state bird is the Cardinal and its state flower is the Peony. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Indiana became known as the “Crossroads of America.” This saying has even been emblazoned on the state’s quarters and has become the Indiana state motto.
  4. Although it was set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, the major television hit Parks and Recreation was filmed in Southern California.
  5. The post office in Santa Claus, Indiana, receives 20,000 letters to Santa every Christmas.
  6. The Fisher, Newby, Wheeler, and Allison Elementary Schools in Speedway, Indiana, are named after the four men who invested in the project to build the Indy 500 racetrack.
  7. Indiana is a major agricultural state, with corn, soybeans, and hogs being some of its largest agricultural products.
  8. The State Seal of Indiana is one of the oldest state seals, with renderings of it coming into use even before statehood. The first reported use of the seal was in 1788 while Indiana was still a territory.
  9. 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.
  10. From 1900 to 1920, more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in Indiana. These makes are considered very valuable antiques today. 
  11. The world’s largest anatomically correct sculpture of the human brain lies in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. The brain weighs 10,000 pounds and rises 7 feet from the ground. The brain is built entirely of Indiana limestone.
  12. On May 7, 1919, Indianapolis hosted Welcome Home Day for returning WWI soldiers.
  13. Famous people from Indiana include Kurt Vonnegut, David Letterman, Michael Jackson, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Larry Bird. 
  14. 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.
  15. The number of bridges in Parke County is a whopping 31 covered bridges in one county, Parke County in Indiana is known as “The Covered Bridge Capital of the World.”
  16. Indiana is also home to a large pharmaceutical industry, with Eli Lilly and Company and Dow AgroSciences being major employers in the state.
  17. Indiana’s state motto is “The Crossroads of America,” either due to the multiple interstate roads that crisscross the state or because its Highways 40 and 41 helped to connect the eastern and western United States.
  18. Indiana, the second-largest grower of popcorn in the United States, and the location of Orville Redenbacher’s famous popcorn company hosts two different popcorn festivals every year.
  19. No one knows the source or original meaning of the word “Hoosier,” the traditional nickname for a resident of Indiana.
  20. The first robbery in which a moving train was actually stopped by the bandits took place in 1866 in Jackson County, Indiana. The thieves chose this location due to the sparse population.
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  1. Indiana has a diverse population of bats, including cave-dwelling bats and migratory bats. 
  2. Bison were once native to Indiana, but due to habitat loss and hunting, they became extinct in the 1830s. In 2016, The Nature Conservancy led efforts to introduce a herd of bison to an area of protected lands in hopes of restoring the population. 
  3. The South Bend Roller Girls is Indiana’s iconic roller derby team. Founded in 2010, the team competes in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. 
  4. Indiana sits atop a large limestone deposit that is one of the richest concentrations of the mineral in the entire world. Limestone from Indiana has been used to build the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the National Cathedral, and more. 
  5. Lewis and Clark began their exploration of the Northwest Territory in Fort Vincennes, IN. 
  6. In 2008 in Shelbyville, Indiana, the oldest person in the world at the time, Edna Parker, died at the age of 115 years old.
  7. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was opened in 1911 and famously hosts the Indianapolis 500. The speedway can seat more than 250,000 people and is the largest spectator sporting arena in the world. 
  8. Indiana has only produced one U.S. president. Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888. 
  9. With seating for 250,000 and an overall capacity of 400,000, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has the highest capacity of any sports venue worldwide. 
  10. At 482,950 square feet, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis holds the title of the world’s largest children’s museum. The museum was founded in 1925 and has been an important part of the community ever since. 
  11. Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken is an Indiana native.
  12. With an estimated capacity of over 425,000 spectators, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds the record for hosting the most fans for a single-day sporting event.
  13. Peonies are the Indiana state flower and are prevalent in gardens across the state. The popularity of the Peony led to the introduction of a Peony Festival in 2021. 
  14. Established in 1732, the city of Vincennes is the oldest in Indiana. Initially founded by the French, the town contains many architectural features of French influence.
  15. Michael Jackson was raised in Gary, Indiana, where he and his family, including 8 siblings, lived in a two-bedroom home.
  16. At the same time that Indiana inventor Richard Jordan Gatling was trying to sell his Gatling machine gun to the Union army, he was a secret participant in a group of Confederate sympathizers and saboteurs.
  17. The University of Notre Dame is a landmark in the state established in 1842 in Indiana, and it has been considered one of the top Catholic schools in the US for over a century. 
  18. Wabash, IN was the first city to be illuminated electrically. An inventor asked to use the city’s courthouse to test his new electric light and the entire city was lit. It is said that the glow from the electric lights could be seen from over a mile away. 
  19. The first successful goldfish farm in the United States was opened in Martinsville in 1899.
  20. The North Pole doesn’t get any letters for Santa Claus, but believe it or not. Indiana does. Every year, the aptly named town of Santa Claus, IN, actually receives those letters in the thousands. Even better, each and every one of those letters do get a reply!
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  1. The Saturday Evening Post, the country’s oldest magazine, is headquartered in Indianapolis. Norman Rockwell was responsible for painting the iconic cover art. 
  2. The Founder of KFC is actually from Indiana, not Kentucky! Colonel Sanders is best known for his fried chicken, he was born and raised in the little hamlet of Henryville, Indiana.
  3. In 1896, botany professor Henry Chandler Cowles began studying the plant life along the shores of the Indiana Dunes.
  4. Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman, was a missionary and shrewd businessman who planted apple trees in Ohio and Indiana. He was buried in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1845.
  5. People in parts of Europe and Australia call gasoline pumps “bowsers,” after the inventor, lifelong Indiana resident Sylvanus Freelove Bowser.
  6. Indiana Caverns is Indiana’s longest cave and has an underground river flowing through it. Visitors can tour the caverns and explore the underground river on a boat. It was discovered in 2010. Inside, paleontologists found bones and fossils dating back to the Ice Age.
  7. Levi and Catharine Coffin, Quakers living in what is now Fountain City, Indiana, are believed to have helped over 2,000 enslaved people escape, using their home as an important stop on the Underground Railroad.
  8. The state is also home to a large automotive industry, with companies such as General Motors, Subaru, and Toyota having major manufacturing plants in the state.
  9. Fort Wayne, IN was home to the first gasoline pump. The pump was invented by Sylvanus Bowser in 1885. 
  10. In 1957, Indiana changed its state flower from the Zinnia to the Peony.
  11. Indiana is one of only a handful of states that do not have a state animal. The only other state with no state animal is Iowa.
  12. Indiana is known as the Hoosier State, but no one is sure where the term “Hoosier” comes from. There are several theories including the use of the word as a slang term, a Cumbrian word for “hilly landscape,” or honoring entrepreneur Samuel Hoosier. 
  13. The name Indiana translates to “Indian land.” 
  14. The crop of choice for Indiana farmers is corn. Almost half of all land used for crops in Indiana is dedicated to corn. 
  15. Jacob Barnett, a child prodigy from Indiana, who at the age of two was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Autism, was enrolled at the college at the age of 12.
  16. Indiana is one of the thirteen U.S. states that are divided into more than one time zone
  17. Eckhart, Indiana, is known as the “RV Capital of the World,” because, for decades, over 80% of the world’s RVs were made in the area.
  18. Although Abraham Lincoln was a resident of Indiana for almost a quarter of his life, his autobiographies contain fewer than 800 words about his time there.
  19. The town of Popcorn, Indiana, is so tiny that the US Census doesn’t include its population in its surveys.
  20. Before the pioneers, roughly 80% of Indiana was covered in forests. Today, however, that number is around 17%. 
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  1. The Indy 500 is an automobile race held annually at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. The inaugural race was first held in 1911 and was won by Ray Harroun.
  2. Indiana is the tenth largest farming state in the country. And 96% of the farms are family-owned or operated.
  3. On May 4th, 1871, players took the field in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in what became the first professional baseball game. 
  4. The first known use of a rearview mirror was in the first Indy 500; Ray Harroun was able to win the race by replacing the then-common second man, whose job was to keep an eye on what was going on behind the car, with a mirror, thus eliminating weight.
  5. The very first major league baseball game was played in Indiana in 1871, between the Cleveland Forest Cities and the Fort Wayne Kekiongas.
  6. In 1916, the state of Indiana ran a contest to create its state flag. It was part of the state’s centennial anniversary celebration. Local artist Paul Hadley won the contest, and his design went on to grace the Indiana state flag. 
  7. Indiana produces more professional basketball players per capita than any other state in the country. On average, 26 of every million Indiana citizens will play in the NBA. 
  8. The name “Indiana” stands for Land of the Indians—but in reality, fewer than 8,000 Native Americans actually reside in the state today.
  9. On May 30, 1911, the inaugural Indianapolis 500 took place at what is now known as the Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway.
  10. 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. 
  11. Indiana State has more than 100 wineries and vineyards. It is considered one of the biggest wine destinations in the US.
  12. The top five agricultural commodities in Indiana are corn, soybeans, meat animals, dairy products, and poultry and eggs.
  13. Indiana means “land of the Indians.” It was named after the American Indian tribe who lived there when Europeans arrived.
  14. Elvis Presley’s final live performance was in Indianapolis in 1977, a little over a month before he died of a heart attack.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Indiana? Share them with us in the comments! 

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