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All About Indiana: From Popcorn to Santa Claus

by | Oct 20, 2022 | All About States

Love buttery, salted popcorn? One man whose name is instantly associated with the delicious snack was born in Brazil, Indiana. He started selling kernels from the back of his car. Can you guess his name? (It’s at the end of this blog). There’s even a town named Popcorn, Indiana. Can you find both cities on a US map?

Indiana is bordered by Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south, and Illinois to the west.

People who live in this state observe two different time zones that are one hour apart. Those who live in the eastern part of the state observe Eastern Standard Time (EST), while those who live in the western part of the state observe Central Standard Time (CST). So, if it’s 10am in eastern Indiana, it’s 9am in western Indiana. By the way, twelve more states are divided into two time zones. Can you name another one? There are 24 time zones on this planet. Which time zone do you live in?

What really happened

  • Native peoples lived in Indiana (and other Midwestern states) for more than 15,000 years.
  • About 2,000 years ago, Hopewell Indians lived here. They built eleven earth mounds, which looked like small hills. They buried the bodies of important people like religious leaders inside these mounds. Archeologists have also found artifacts, such as pots, inside of them. This archeological site is called “Angel Mounds.”
  • Around 1614, French explorer Samuel de Chaplain was the first European to visit the area. By the late 1600s, the land was controlled by the French.
  • Between 1754 and 1763, the French and English fought for control of the region in the French and Indian War. The English won the war and this area would become known as the Indiana Territory.
  • After the American Revolution ended in 1783, Britain gave up control of this territory to the US. The territory opened up to US settlers and brought increased war with the Native American tribes.
  • In 1816, Indiana became the 19th During the Civil War (1861-1865), the state fought in favor of the Union, which included 20 states at the time.
  • In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Indiana was nicknamed “Mother of Vice Presidents”. In ten of the thirteen elections between 1868 and 1916, at least one candidate from this state was on the ballot.
  • Before and during the Civil War, many families in Indiana provided shelter for runaway slaves. The farming community of Newport (now called Fountain City) became known as the “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad, which was a network of people, homes, and places where people could hide out. Slaves who lived in the southern United States used this network to escape to northern states and Canada so they could live freely. Levi and Catherine Coffin of Newport helped more than 2,000 runaway slaves make their way north to freedom.

Stuff you should know

  • The Ohio River creates the state’s southern border.
  • The Northwest part of Indiana borders Lake Michigan. There are large sand dunes along the entire shoreline that have taken thousands of years to form. Some tower nearly 200 feet above Lake Michigan.
  • Indiana is nicknamed the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” Back in the 1800s, 10,000 covered bridges were built in this country. While 800 still stand, it’s approximated that 31 are in this state within roughly 450 square miles of each other.
  • People who live in Indiana are known as Indianians or more frequently as Hoosiers. As the story goes, there was a contractor who worked for the Louisville and Portland Canal, a two-mile canal that bypasses the Falls of the Ohio near Louisville, Kentucky. This man preferred to hire people from Indiana, not Kentucky. They were called “Hoosier’s men” and, eventually, all Indianians were called Hoosiers.

Crazy, funny, or just plain weird

  • Santa Claus, Indiana receives over a half million letters and requests at Christmas time. While not every child’s holiday wish is granted, each one does get an individual response.
  • In this state, deep below the earth, are the richest deposits of limestone found anywhere on the planet. Limestone is a stone that’s mainly used to build roads and in construction, such as when building the Empire State Building in New York or the Pentagon and National Cathedral in Washington, DC. But guess what? It also has a chemical in it called calcium carbonate, which is good for strong, healthy teeth. So the next time you brush your teeth, you’ll be brushing them with limestone since toothpaste companies put limestone in their toothpaste.
  • The first train robbery in the US took place in Indiana in 1866. A gang known as the Reno Brothers made off with $13,000, which is worth more than $240,000
  • The town of Mentone is the site of the largest egg in the world. Constructed in 1946, it is made out of concrete, weighs roughly 3,000 pounds, and stands about ten feet tall.
  • The first rotary jail (the building slowly turns around in a circle), and the last one that’s still operational, was built in Crawfordsville. The idea was for there to be only one exit at a time so that prisoners would have a much harder time escaping.
  • Like wolves? Maybe even love these wild animals? For a fee, you can have a year’s access to Wolf Park, a small wildlife park in the town of Battleground, where you can “get kissed” by friendly wolves. Apparently, that’s how they show their appreciation of your donation or sponsorship.

Tell me more

  • The Indianapolis 500, arguably the biggest car race in the world, has been held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a racetrack, nearly every year since May 1911. Located in the state’s capital city, it can seat more than 250,000 people!
  • The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 4, 1871.
  • The first city in this country to use electric street lights was Wabash in 1880.
  • Basketball is a big deal in Indiana. The state produces more NBA players per capita than any other state.
  • During the 19th century, Indiana was the site of several experimental communities. From roughly 1870 to 1900, which was known as this country’s “Gilded Age”, Indiana became a massive industrial state, producing steel, iron and oil products.

Have you figured out the name of the most famous man who ever sold popcorn? His name is Orville Redenbacher.

Do you have something fun, interesting, or strange you’d like to share about Indiana? Email it to us along with the state you live in, your first name and your age. We will post it on Mo’s social media pages and/or website and, of course, credit you for the information!