Hoosier Home's  Indiana History

General facts about Indiana, plus information and links about interesting
events and the way Indiana played a role in the history of our nation.

Click on the State Flag
for more information

Click on the State Seal
for more information

Click on Map for larger view

State Bird

State Tree
Tulip Tree

State Flower

More Indiana Symbols

State Motto -- "The Crossroads of America" adopted 1937
Nickname -- "The Hoosier State"
State Song -- Click On the Banks of the Wabash for the words and music.

Indiana Facts

Meaning of Name -- Land of Indians
Entered the Union -- December 11, 1816 (19th State)
State Capital -- Indianapolis
Governor -- Frank O'Bannon (D, To January 2005)
Population -- 5,544,159 (1990 census; ranked 14th among the states)
Major Industries -- Iron, Steel, Oil
Major Crops -- corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay

What is a "Hoosier?"

There are many differing views as to where the name came from. My personal favorite was put forward by poet James Whitcomb Riley, who claimed that the name came from the 'pugnacious habits' of the early settlers, who fought so viciously they would sometimes lose a nose or ear. A fellow would walk in next day after a fight, push an ear on the floor aside with his boot, and casually ask, "Whose ear?" Visit the Indiana Historical Society for more definitions of the name 'Hoosier.'

Some Famous Hoosiers: Steve McQueen, James Dean, Carole Lombard, David Letterman, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, Phil Harris, Michael Jackson, Jane Pauley, Orville Redenbacher, James Whitcomb Riley, Booth Tarkington, Larry Bird.

Indiana Beginnings

Indiana has been inhabited since prehistoric times by roving hunters, then mound builders. When European explorers arrived in the late 1600's, Indiana was sparsely inhabited by the Miami Tribe. Delaware, Kickapoo, Potowatomi and Shawnee tribes later moved into the area. Claimed by LaSalle in the 17th century for the French, Indiana's first permanent settlement grew around Fort Vincennes, which was founded in 1732. Indiana was organized as a U.S. Territory in 1800, with Vincennes as the territorial capital. The site of the capitol was moved to Corydon in 1813. Indiana became the 19th state of the union in 1816, with Corydon still the capital. Indianapolis was the site selected for the new capital in 1820, and laid out in the same 'wheel pattern' used for Washington, D.C. Indianapolis officially became the capital in 1825.

Indiana and Lewis & Clark

The beginning spot for the Lewis & Clark expedition is claimed by Clark County, Indiana. Clark joined Lewis at Clarksville, opposite Louisville, KY. Visit Discovering Lewis & Clark.

Indiana Railroads

Indiana, and especially Indianapolis, served as a major hub to railway traffic. The railroad industry was a major employer in Indiana. Find out more about Indiana Railroads from 1832-1900.

Indiana on the Underground Railroad

Quakers Levi and Catherine Coffin acted on their opposition to slavery by helping over 3000 slaves escape to Canada. Their home in Fountain City was known as the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad. Visit the Levi Coffin House.

Indy 500 History

Built in 1909 as a testing ground and showplace for the fast-growing automobile industry in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway did not become home to the Indy 500 until 1911, when owners envisioned the 500-mile race with a fabulous prize. Known as "the Brickyard" due to the 3,200,000 bricks comprising the track, it has been paved over with asphalt since the 1940's. The original bricks can still be seen at the start/finish line. Visit the official Indianapolis 500 website.

Selected Counties' Facts

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