Indiana is famous for race cars and basketball, but there is more to this state than meets the eye. Continue reading for 20 fun facts about the Hoosier state.
1 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.
2 The name Indiana translates to “Indian land.”
3 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.
4 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.
5 Indiana has only produced one U.S. president. Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888.
6 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.
7 Indiana was home to the first professional baseball game ever played. It took place on May 4, 1871 in Fort Wayne.
8 None of Indiana’s baseball teams have ever made it into the Major Leagues.
9 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.
10 Santa Claus, IN receives over half a million Christmas letters each year from children all across the country.
11 Famous people from Indiana include Kurt Vonnegut, David Letterman, Michael Jackson, James Dean, Steve McQueen, and Larry Bird.
12 Indiana’s state bird is the cardinal and its state flower is the peony.
13 Lewis and Clark actually began their exploration of the Northwest Territory in Fort Vincennes, IN.
14 Before the pioneers, roughly 80% of Indiana was covered in forests. Today, however, that number is around 17%.
15 Fort Wayne, IN was home to the first gasoline pump. The pump was invented by Sylvanus Bowser in 1885.
16 From 1900 to 1920, more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in Indiana. These makes are considered very valuable antiques today.
17 The Saturday Evening Post, the country’s oldest magazine, is headquartered in Indianapolis. Norman Rockwell was responsible for painting the iconic cover art.
18 The crop of choice for Indiana farmers is corn. In fact, almost half of all land used for crops in Indiana is dedicated to corn.
19 Jim Davis, creator of the famous cartoon cat Garfield, is from Marion, IN. Garfield makes his home in Indiana also.
20 Parke County, IN is considered the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World” with 32 bridges in this county alone.