50 Interesting & Fun Facts About Indiana State to Know

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A river bordered by autumn trees against a skyline under a cloudy sky
The Indianapolis city skyline

Known as the "Racing Capital of the World," Indiana is home to the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy 500. Motor racing is in Indiana's blood and probably the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the state.

While motor racing is a big part of the state, many things make Indiana a unique and interesting place. From the Wabash river to the wineries and from the dunes to the donuts, there are many interesting and fun facts about Indiana state to discover.

This Midwestern state is home to baseball, ecological discoveries, popcorn, Santa Claus, and a robust bat population! Indiana also has many famous landmarks, from the historic town of Vincennes to Abraham Lincoln's childhood home and many more. Continue reading to learn 50 facts about the state of Indiana!

  • 50 Indiana facts

50 Indiana State Facts

  1. Fun Facts on Indiana
    1. The Indianapolis 500 draws in close to 250,000 visitors a year
    2. Indiana's Wabash River is home to the oldest animal species in North America
    3. Indiana is home to Santa Claus
    4. The Indiana Dunes are known as the birthplace of ecology
    5. There are over a hundred wineries in Indiana
    6. 13 different species of bats call Indiana home
    7. Indiana is known for popcorn
    8. The Ohio River Scenic Byway was one of the original scenic byways in America
    9. Indiana has the "Donut Capital of the World"
    10. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children's museum in the world
    11. Indiana has a Peony Festival
    12. Several movies have been filmed in Indiana
    13. Indiana has a historic automobile museum
    14. Fairmount Indiana is home to Garfield the Cat
    15. Parke County Indiana is known as the Covered Bridge Capital of the World
  2. Interesting Facts About Indiana
    1. Indiana is restoring bison populations
    2. The Indiana State Flag was created by a local artist in a contest
    3. Indiana pays homage to famed Revolutionary War Colonel George Rogers Clark
    4. Indiana was home to famous poet James Whitcomb Riley
    5. The Indiana State Seal depicts its history even before statehood
    6. Indiana is known as the crossroads of America
    7. The University of Notre Dame is in Indiana
    8. Television Host David Letterman is from Indiana
    9. Indiana was home to the iconic Jackson Family
    10. The Raggedy Ann Doll was created in Indiana
  3. Weird Facts About Indiana
    1. Indiana is nicknamed the "Hoosier" state, but no one really knows why
    2. Indiana has been called "The Mother of Vice Presidents"
    3. Indiana does not have a state animal
    4. There's a random tree full of shoes in Indiana
    5. The "Limestone Capital of the World" is Bedford Indiana
  4. Cool Facts About Indiana
    1. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world
    2. The state held the first professional baseball game
    3. You can traverse an underground river at Indiana Caverns
    4. South Bend, Indiana, is known for roller derby
    5. Indiana has some serious basketball fans
  5. Creepy Facts About Indiana
    1. The dunes on Lake Michigan are rumored to be haunted
    2. Indiana is home to the haunted Whispers Estate
    3. There are creepy catacombs beneath the Indianapolis City Market
    4. Several notorious killers have come from Indiana
    5. Indiana has several ghost towns
  6. Historical Facts About Indiana
    1. Indiana had the first train robbery in American history
    2. Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana
    3. Indiana is the historic homeland of many Native Americans
    4. Indiana's William Henry Harrison served the shortest presidential term in US history
    5. Famous Indiana musician Paul Dresser wrote the Indiana State Song
  7. Important Facts About Indiana
    1. Indiana Territory became the 19th state added to the United States
    2. Indiana was a key state in the Civil War
    3. Indiana was home to "The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad"
    4. Abraham Lincoln grew up in Indiana
    5. The first city in the world to install electric streetlights was Wabash Indiana

Show all

Fun Facts on Indiana

A close-up of a dinosaur's skull against green leaves and a dark sky
The largest children's museum in the world is the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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One of the fun facts about Indiana state - It is known as the world's racing capital
Indiana is often referred to as the "Racing Capital of the World"

The Indianapolis 500 draws in close to 250,000 visitors a year

The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most-watched motorsport races in the world. Close to 250,000 fans pack the stands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every May, while millions more tune in for the televised event. Motorsport racing is a huge part of Indiana culture, and the state is often referred to as the "Racing Capital of the World."

A wide arched bridge over a river against trees and a round building with columns
The paddlefish species has been around the Wabash River for over 300 million years

Indiana's Wabash River is home to the oldest animal species in North America

The Wabash River spans over 500 miles throughout the state of Indiana. It is full of biodiversity with 150 species of freshwater fish, including the paddlefish, the oldest surviving animal species in North America. The paddlefish species has been around for over 300 million years and is often referred to as a "primitive fish."

Indiana is home to Santa Claus

The town of Santa Claus, Indiana, is known as America's Christmas Hometown. Established in 1856, the town grew into the Christmas-themed destination it is today over several decades. Starting with one small theme park, Santa's Candy Castle, the town is now a booming tourist destination and home to dozens of Christmas-themed attractions.

White sand with a small fence in the middle surrounded by trees overlooking the water
Indiana Dunes was where Henry Chandler Cowles began studying plant life in 1896

The Indiana Dunes are known as the birthplace of ecology

In 1896, botany professor Henry Chandler Cowles began studying the plant life along the shores of the Indiana Dunes. His studies led to several notable ecological findings, which in turn led to conservation efforts on the dunes. Many refer to his studies as the "birthplace of ecology."

There are over a hundred wineries in Indiana

One of the most fun facts of Indiana is its abundance of wineries! Most people don't think of Indiana as a winery destination, but the state has a thriving wine market. With over a hundred wineries, vineyards, and wine-tasting lake cruises, it's easy to see why Indiana is a top wine destination.

13 different species of bats call Indiana home

Indiana has a diverse population of bats, including cave-dwelling bats and migratory bats. All of Indiana's 13 bat species are insectivores and are an important part of the state's ecosystem. Indiana's bats help cut down on potential crop-damaging insects.

Indiana is known for popcorn

Not only does Indiana have a small town named Popcorn, the state is a major producer of the snack. Top popcorn producers Weaver and Orville Redenbacher, as well as many small gourmet "mom and pop" popcorn shops, can be found throughout the state. Popcorn was even named the official state snack of Indiana.

The Ohio River Scenic Byway was one of the original scenic byways in America

Spanning over 300 miles, the Ohio River Scenic Byway in southern Indiana is full of interesting and historical stops. It was established in 1996 as one of the original 14 scenic byways in the US. Now it's one of the most traveled roads in Indiana.

Indiana has the "Donut Capital of the World"

Tom's Donuts in Angola, Indiana, holds the Guinness World Record for most the donuts sold in a day. This local favorite has been serving up its signature donuts in Indiana for almost 50 years. They've aptly been nicknamed the "Donut Capital of the World," and their success is one of the most fun facts for Indiana!

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children's museum in the world

At 225,000 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. The museum features exhibits in art, science, and history, including its famous "Dinosphere," a large collection of reconstructed dinosaur bones.

Indiana has a Peony Festival

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. It showcased flower vendors, crafts, and classes. The festival was a huge success drawing 10,000 attendees.

Several movies have been filmed in Indiana

Indiana has served as the filming location for numerous movies over the years, from creepy classics like Nightmare on Elm Street to action hits like Transformers. Pop culture hit Rudy was famously filmed at the University of Notre Dame, and the historical comedy, A League of Their Own, was filmed in Evansville.

Indiana has a historic automobile museum

Opened in 1974, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum is a landmark in Auburn, Indiana. The museum showcases historic automobiles that date as far back as 1890. Their massive 3-story showroom has over 120 classic cars and memorabilia related to the automobile industry.

Fairmount Indiana is home to Garfield the Cat

Famous cartoon creator Jim Davis was from Fairmount, Indiana. Most known for his beloved sarcastic, lasagna-loving cartoon cat Garfield, Davis became a local legend in his hometown. Fairmount has over a dozen Garfield statues throughout the city to honor Davis, and the route one travels to see them all is now known as the Garfield Trail.

A red covered bridge with a white roof over water against green trees
Most of the bridges in Parke County were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s

Parke County Indiana is known as the Covered Bridge Capital of the World

One of the most interesting Indiana facts is the number of bridges in Parke County. With a whopping 31 covered bridges in one county, Parke County in Indiana is known as the covered bridge capital of the world. This is a title they hold proudly with a yearly Covered Bridge Festival. Most of their bridges were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s and are considered historic sites.

Interesting Facts About Indiana

littleny/Depositphotos.com
A pathway between green grass to a vernacular white house with a black roof
The iconic Jackson Family is from Gary, Indiana, and their home is a landmark

Indiana is restoring bison populations

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. That herd has now tripled and is contributing to a thriving ecosystem that will restore the prairie to its natural state.

The Indiana State Flag was created by a local artist in a contest

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. Hadley's design featured a gold torch surrounded by 19 stars representing Indiana's statehood.

A round white fort with columns under a partly cloudy sky
The siege of Fort Sackville was a turning point in the American Revolutionary War

Indiana pays homage to famed Revolutionary War Colonel George Rogers Clark

Indiana has strong ties to George Rogers Clark, the famed Revolutionary Colonel who captured Fort Sackville from the British. Fort Sackville was a significant turning point in the American Revolutionary War, giving the Americans the upper hand. The story of Fort Sackville became one of the most prominent Indiana history facts.

It is said that Colonel Clark led his soldiers through rough terrain and freezing cold waters to reach the fort. Depictions of Clark and his soldiers are found in paintings and statues in many government buildings in Indiana. Counties, schools, parks, and streets in Indiana have also been named after the famed Colonel.

Indiana was home to famous poet James Whitcomb Riley

Born in Greenfield, Indiana, in 1849, James Whitcomb Riley became a beloved author and poet with a writing career that spanned several decades. He was most famous for his book Rhymes of Childhood, a collection of children's poems.

After Riley passed away, an Indiana children's hospital was dedicated to him as a memorial. The James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis is still operational and is one of the top children's hospitals in the area.

The Indiana State Seal depicts its history even before statehood

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.

The seal depicts a woodsman with an ax chopping down a tree while a buffalo roams in the foreground as the sun sets. This was meant to represent the new frontier.

Indiana is known as the crossroads of America

Due to its centralized location in the US and proximity to major highways, 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.

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A wide university building with a gray roof surrounded by trees
The University of Notre Dame was established in 1842

The University of Notre Dame is in Indiana

Famous for its historic architecture and iconic football team, The Fighting Irish, the University of Notre Dame is a landmark in Indiana. Established in 1842, the University of Notre Dame has been considered one of the top Catholic schools in the US for over a century. Facts about Notre Dame are some of the Indiana facts and history that people most often inquire about.

Television Host David Letterman is from Indiana

Born and raised in Indianapolis, David Letterman started his broadcasting career at his college radio station at Ball State University. He also served as a news anchor at a local Indianapolis news station.

In 1975 Letterman moved to Los Angeles, which would launch his now-famous late-night talk show career. Letterman hosted several shows from the 1980s to the 2010s and became a cultural icon.

littleny/Depositphotos.com
A statue of two kids playing on green grass against a white vernacular house
The childhood home of the Jackson Family is now a landmark in Gary, Indiana

Indiana was home to the iconic Jackson Family

The legendary family of musicians, the Jackson Family, hailed from Indiana. Siblings Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Jackie, and Marlon were the original Jackson 5 that rose to stardom in the 1960s.

Michael and Janet Jackson later had successful solo careers, with Michael Jackson being dubbed the "King of Pop." Their childhood home in Gary, Indiana is now a landmark and memorial.

The Raggedy Ann Doll was created in Indiana

In 1915, Indianapolis cartoonist and children's book author, Johnny Gruelle created the now-famous Raggedy Ann doll. It is said that Gruelle created the doll when his daughter found an old rag doll, and he drew on it. In addition to the iconic doll, he created cartoons, children's books, and songs about the Raggedy Ann character.

Weird Facts About Indiana

A town square with a statue surrounded by tall buildings under a sunset sky
There are many theories relating to the reasons Indiana's nickname is "Hoosier" state

Indiana is nicknamed the "Hoosier" state, but no one really knows why

One of the most interesting facts about the state of Indiana lies within its nickname. Indiana has been known as the "Hoosier" state for over a century, but ask anyone why that is, and you'll probably hear a dozen different answers.

Some believe the nickname originated from slang terms used by Indiana's first settlers, while others think it originated from a poem entitled "The Hoosier's Nest." There are also theories that it came from a Native American word for corn, "hoosa." Not one theory has yet to be proved as the factual origin of the name.

Indiana has been called "The Mother of Vice Presidents"

To date, 6 United States Vice Presidents have hailed from Indiana, leading to the state sometimes being called "The Mother of Vice Presidents."

Indianans Schuyler Colfax, Thomas A. Hendricks, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas R. Marshall, Dan Quayle, and Mike Pence all served as Vice Presidents.

Indiana does not have a state animal

While there is an Indiana state bird, the cardinal, there is no Indiana state animal. Indiana is one of only a handful of states that do not have a state animal. Other such states include Iowa, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

There's a random tree full of shoes in Indiana

There couldn't be a list of weird Indiana facts without mentioning the Milltown shoe tree! No one knows when or why it started, but there's a tree in Milltown, Indiana, with hundreds of shoes hanging from it.

Some shoes are said to be decades old, and new ones are added all the time. There are many local legends and rumors about how this strange tradition started, but no solid leads.

The "Limestone Capital of the World" is Bedford Indiana

Known for its large quarries of limestone, Bedford, Indiana, has been called the "Limestone Capital of the World." Limestone from Bedford is a preferred choice among architects and has been used in many notable buildings, including the Pentagon and the Empire State Building.

Cool Facts About Indiana

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A motor speedway beside the stands under a partly cloudy sky
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, built in 1909, has an overall capacity of 400,000

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the highest-capacity sports venue in the world

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. The speedway was built in 1909, and its capacity has been one of the most interesting Indiana facts ever since. The venue hosts major racing events throughout the year, including the famous Indy 500, NASCAR, and Formula One.

The state held the first professional baseball game

On May 4th, 1871, players took the field in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in what became the first professional baseball game. On what was known as the Kekionga Ball Grounds at the time, the Fort Wayne "Kekiongas" played the Cleveland Forest "Citys" and won 2-0. A monument is now found at the site where that epic first game was played over 150 years ago.

You can traverse an underground river at Indiana Caverns

Indiana Caverns is not only Indiana's longest cave, it also has an underground river flowing through it. Visitors can tour the caverns and explore the underground river on a boat.

Indiana Caverns was discovered in 2010. Inside, paleontologists found bones and fossils dating back to the ice age. After three years of excavation, Indiana Caverns opened up to the public in 2013 and has been a popular Indiana attraction ever since.

South Bend, Indiana, is known for roller derby

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. The South Bend Roller Girls are known for their charity work and have raised funds and brought awareness to several charities, including the Humane Society.

Indiana has some serious basketball fans

Basketball has a strong influence on Indiana culture. From high school to college teams, the state is known for producing some of the top players to go on to the NBA. It's one of the most boasted about facts on Indiana. Basketball is so ingrained in Indiana culture they've coined a phrase for their excitement of it, "Hoosier hysteria."

Creepy Facts About Indiana

A lit-up downtown skyline overlooking a long body of water, at night
HH Holmes, who was known as "America's first serial killer", was from Indiana
White sand dunes overlooking the blue water under a cloudy sky
The ghost of Alice Mabel Gray continues to be sighted at the dunes on Lake Michigan

The dunes on Lake Michigan are rumored to be haunted

In the early 1900s, Alice Mabel Gray lived in a shack along the dunes of Lake Michigan. She preferred a solitary lifestyle and would forage and fish. Locals would often spot her swimming nude and considered her uncommon at the time. Rumors swirled, and she became known as "Diana of the Dunes."

After her death in the 1920s, fishermen reported seeing a ghostly figure of a nude woman swimming. Reports of these alleged ghost sightings have continued until this day. Locals believe the ghost of Gray roams the lakeshore.

Indiana is home to the haunted Whispers Estate

Known as the house "where the walls really do talk," the Whispers Estate has been the subject of many paranormal investigations. The house was built in 1894, and several previous occupants have died there.

Many guests at Whispers Estate have reported seeing figures and hearing voices around the house. Photographic and video evidence has been offered by the estate to corroborate these reports.

There are creepy catacombs beneath the Indianapolis City Market

Below the Indianapolis City Market sits the remnants of an abandoned basement system known as the catacombs. While these catacombs don't contain any skeletons like others, they are nonetheless creepy. Tours are offered for those that wish to get an up-close look at these catacombs and learn about their history.

Several notorious killers have come from Indiana

One of the darker facts on Indiana is its history of killers. From HH Holmes, who was known as "America's first serial killer," to murderous cult leader Charles Manson, several notorious killers have come from Indiana. Jim Jones founded his congregation, The Peoples Temple, in Indianapolis, which later, unfortunately, was the congregation involved in the infamous Jonestown Massacre.

Indiana has several ghost towns

There are an estimated 41 towns across Indiana that can be classified as ghost towns. Most of them hold the ruins of houses, buildings, and factories.

Many of these towns are no longer listed on maps and can only be reached via GPS coordinates. One of the most famous among these abandoned towns is Elisabeth Town. All that remains of this early 1800s town is a single dilapidated cemetery.

Historical Facts About Indiana

sgoodwin4813/Depositphotos.com
A skyline of tall skyscrapers overlooking a concrete pavement
Indiana was home to more than 16 different Native American tribes

Indiana had the first train robbery in American history

The first train robbery in American history happened in 1866 in Jackson County, Indiana. The infamous criminal duo, the Reno brothers, attacked a moving train as it traversed through a desolate region. They made off with $13,000 and, in doing so, inspired many other criminals to start using this unusual method. Train robberies then became a common part of railway history with the newly formed frontiers of the American west.

A brick church with a tall spire surrounded by green trees and facing a paved road
One of the facts about Indiana state is that Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana

Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana

Established in 1732, the city of Vincennes is the oldest city in Indiana. Originally founded by the French, the city contains many architectural features that were of French influence. Now a collection of historic buildings and museums, Vincennes has become a popular attraction and place to learn about Indiana history facts.

Indiana is the historic homeland of many Native Americans

Prior to European arrival, Indiana was home to over 16 different Native American tribes. Between battles over land and new diseases being brought in, many Native Americans were displaced or killed.

Today, descendants of these tribes honor the past through educational initiatives and cultural events. Every 5 years, the Potawatomi people take part in a 660-mile journey across Indiana. This event commemorates the forced removal of their ancestors from their homeland in 1838, known as "the trail of death."

Indiana's William Henry Harrison served the shortest presidential term in US history

In 1840 the Governor of Indiana, Willian Henry Harrison, ran for President of the United States. He won the election, becoming the 9th US President. He took office on March 4th, 1841, and subsequently passed away on April 4th, serving just 31 days in office. It was the shortest term in US Presidential history.

Famous Indiana musician Paul Dresser wrote the Indiana State Song

Paul Dresser was a prominent musician in Indiana in the late 1800s. He composed over 150 songs during his musical career including "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," which later became the state song. Dresser wrote the song in 1897, but it wasn't adopted as the state song until 1913 and became part of his legacy after his death. Dresser's home is now a historic landmark in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Important Facts About Indiana

zrfphoto/Depositphotos.com
A pathway between green grass by a wooden cart, leading to a vernacular house
The National Memorial site preserves and showcases where Abraham Lincoln grew up

Indiana Territory became the 19th state added to the United States

On December 11th, 1816, the Indiana Territory was signed into statehood by President James Madison. This new state of Indiana became the 19th state to be added to the union. Local politician Jonathon Jennings, who led the movement to make Indiana a state, became the first Indiana Governor and helped draft the state's constitution.

Indiana was a key state in the Civil War

One of the most important facts about the state of Indiana was its role in the Civil War. Indiana was a Union state and a staunch supporter of legislation to end slavery.

They provided an estimated 210,000 Union soldiers to fight the Confederates. Indiana's location, railroads, and agriculture were also crucial to providing food and supplies to the Union soldiers.

Indiana was home to "The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad"

The historic Indiana home of Levi and Catherine Coffin became known as "the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." It is believed that more than 1000 former slaves came through the Coffin house while journeying north to seek refuge.

The Coffins constructed hiding places throughout the house and had neighbors who assisted as lookouts. The Coffin house is now a historic landmark and museum.

zrfphoto/Depositphotos.com
Green grass and a few steps to a wide concrete structure against trees
The Abraham Lincoln National Memorial site houses the gravesite of Lincoln's mother

Abraham Lincoln grew up in Indiana

Now a national memorial site and park, the childhood home of Abraham Lincoln is located in Gentryville, Indiana. The site preserves and showcases where the famed 16th President grew up. In addition to his home and farm, the gravesite of Lincoln's mother is also on the property.

The first city in the world to install electric streetlights was Wabash Indiana

In 1880, Wabash, Indiana, made history by being the first city in the world to install electric lighting. The local government initiated the usage of the lighting, and it is said that the citizens were enamored upon their first sight of them.

In Summary

With all these interesting Indiana facts, it's easy to see why there is so much more to the state than meets the eye. From history to modern-day facts, Indiana is full of unique stories and important lessons.

If you get a chance to visit Indiana be sure to check out some of its museums and native cultural sites. There's lots more to learn!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Lauren Rey

L_Rey WRITER Based in Florida, but I'm always plotting out a new road trip route with my partner-in-crime, Pickles. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks as much as I do!


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