"Indiana: Middle America Personified" Top 5 Page for this destination Indiana by deecat

Indiana Travel Guide: 2,624 reviews and 5,894 photos

An Illinois Girl's Many Connections To Indiana

"From sand dunes to streams running in limestone canyons...the natural...wonders of Indiana come alive." Wm Forgey

Even though I was born, bred, and have always lived in Illinois, I also have many connections to the great state of Indiana. I lived close to the Illinois/Indiana border and always shopped in Terre Haute or Vincennes, Indiana. My husbnad Allan is an Indiana boy from "The Harbor" (East Chicago).

I went to graduate school to earn a MS in English at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. Finally, my daughter Jill earned her Associate Degree from Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. So, I have a soft spot in my heart for the Hoosier state of Indiana.

Indiana is called the "Crossroads of America" because of its location in the middle of the nation and because many interstate highways cross within Indiana. It has more miles of interstate highway per square mile than any other state. Because 5 interstate routes converge within its borders, 2/3's of the US population is within a day's drive to Indiana!

But, today, Indiana is not just a crossroads; it's a destination all of its own! Visitors go to southern Indiana to see the forested hills and valleys. The rolling sand dunes and lakes in northern Indiana provide sport and quiet reflection. The central plains beckon visitors to the great city of Indianapolis because of its culture, sporting event, and fine cuisine.

Being a midwestern state & being located in the middle of the country, Indiana has a "down-home rural atmosphere". The people seem to value the simple things of life and are people who seem to cherish the past. As a visitor, you'll be able to see places in Indiana where the past is certainly preserved. For instance, New Harmony is a delightful old-time village; Madison is a lovely 19th century settlement that's beautifully preserved; Conner Prairie Settlement is a re-created pioneer village. And, Madison is a "well preserved carry-over of a nineteenth-century settlement".

I'm still amazed at how some of Indiana's old towns have maintained their "American heartland" ambience--the past somehow lingers--thank goodness for that!

Indiana's Literary Side

Note: Photo from Indiana Archives

Terre Haute's famous American writer (Theodor Dreiser) is famous for many novels such as Sister Carrie, but I remember him most for his book of essays about his experiences of growing up in the Middle West in the late 19th Century called "A Hoosier Holiday".

His brother, Paul Dresser (note the different spelling of the last name) was also a writer, but a lyric and music composer. He wrote best-selling sheet music. But, I know his work as a result of the song he wrote that became Indiana's State Song called,

"On the Banks of the Wabash--Far Away"


Oh the moonlight's fair tonight along the Wabash

From the fields there comes the breath of new mown hay.

Thro' the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming
/
On the banks of the Wabash, far away.


What a haunting melody for a state that often lingers in the past or as Indiana poet, James Whitcomb Riley would say: ...lingers in the .."time's all-golden yesterdays."

Just What Is A Hooshier?

Note: Photo is of my husband Allan's grade school class in 1949 at East Chicago, Indiana

When I met my husband Allan, a born and bred Hooshier, I asked him, "Just what is a Hooshier?

He did not have an answer because there may not be one. But, there are plenty of theories. I know about four:

1. Slang for a term often used by Indiana people, "Wh's yer?," or "Who's here?".

2. Named for a contractor from Ohio named Samuel Hoosier who would only hire his workers from Indiana.

3. Because Indiana is thought to be the most southern in character of the northern states (immigration from the "hills to the south"), one theory says it was those Southerners who called hills "hoozers".

4. Others feel that "hoosier" is a variation on "husher", for someone who can hush a brawl.

All of these theories are a stretch. I tend to think it has to do with #2 and the man named Hoosier.
But, regardless, the term Hoosier still applies today.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Historic Cities, Natural Wonders, Outstanding High School Basketball, true Middle America!
  • Cons:Poverty in the Calumet Region, Ultra Conservative areas
  • In a nutshell:A beautiful, historic state that represents Middle America
  • Last visit to Indiana: Mar 2005
  • Intro Updated Jun 9, 2005
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Reviews (22)

Comments (26)

  • jillzi's Profile Photo
    May 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    So sad that Phil Smidt's closed. A very thorough presentation of a great state. Liked the variety and detail. Excellent information that covers a wide area.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 2, 2010 at 7:15 AM

    Excellent page (as always from you Dee!) I was fascinated by your account of the Amish lifestyle and of New Harmony, and loved reading your childhood memories of the state.

  • Nov 6, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    You really brought Indiana "alive" and covered so many wonderful areas of this often overlooked state. Super use of detail and so many helpful suggestions.

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Dec 21, 2008 at 2:38 PM

    Your detailed tips are full of gems, as always. Like you, I grew up in Illinois and had few ties to Indiana. But then when I was stationed at Fort Knox I had a friend who lived on a farm near Indianapolis, so I went for visits on the weekends sometimes.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Dec 3, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    Thank you Dee for showing us this Mother of Vice Presidents. Amazing replica of the log cabin where young Lincoln lived. Among Indiana's famous people I know only Larry Bird.

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2008 at 10:24 PM

    This is a part of USA I have not visited and knew very little besides Indianapolis circuit which does not fit with "$5.00 fine for driving or riding over this bridge faster than a walk"! Interesting tip about New Harmony !

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2007 at 7:10 AM

    Phil Smidt's closed earlier this month, it really wasn't the same after the Probst family sold it. But it's too bad, it was such a local institution :-(

  • kyoub's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2006 at 4:20 AM

    Nice page, Dee. Indiana has some beautiful scenery and some not so pretty. I grew up just a few miles from Terre Haute,but in Illinois. Your page also brought back memorues of years that we lived in Hammond.

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2006 at 2:00 PM

    Dee, I'm always amazed at how much info you cram into your tips. Great memories here of so many places we have visited - and a few that are still on our list "to do."

  • Aug 2, 2006 at 12:15 PM

    Hi Dee, Thank you so much for taking the time to view my Singapore Page. Yes, a destination you have to visit!:~)) Loved your Indiana Page. Especially the way you described the wonderful dishes. Yummy!!

deecat

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