What exactly is a Hoosier? No one is really sure where the term came from, some say from a poem, others from the Native American word for corn, still others from frontier life when settlers greeting someone coming to the door asked “who’s here?” Whatever the origin, today a Hoosier is a proud resident of Indiana, where settlement began more than 10,000 years ago. A thriving Mississippian culture was discovered by French fur traders who made their way to the state in the 1670s and claimed the territory for France. Congress made it the Indiana Territory in 1800, reviving a name that commemorated Iroquois tribes living in the area. Originally, along with the land within the state’s borders, the territory encompasses present day Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota. Today, the state is basically a bridge between the Midwest, the industrial states that border the Great Lakes, and the South, with Kentucky in its southern border. In the northern part of the state, the residents of New Harmony experimental colony moved from Pennsylvania and Amish settlers moved in from Ohio. Today, their pastoral lifestyle peacefully coexists and contrasts with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a spinoff of the expansion of the auto industry from Michigan, which during the Gilded Age made Indiana a massive industrial state. Even today, the state’s 41-mile Lake Michigan waterfront is one of the world’s great industrial centers producing iron, steel and refining oil. It has also benefited from innovations in the pharmaceutical industry led by Eli Lilly. Southern Indiana is more rural, with more varied terrain since the region was never covered by glaciers. Large tracts of forest surround “the Knobs” a chain of hills up to 1,000 feet in height, and near the Kentucky border, the oldest exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world. Residents here sound more Southern and foodways resemble the south as well.  Enjoy it all, from top to bottom! 

Indiana Scenic Byways