Indiana, The Hoosier State

Indiana, The Hoosier State

by Sandra Merville Hart

Indiana’s nickname is The Hoosier State. Historians and Hoosiers give theories about the meaning of the nickname, but the reason behind the name has been lost in history.

Indiana’s early history

The French explored the Indiana area in 1679 and later began trading with Native Americans. After 1715, the French built military posts to keep British fur traders away. The British gained the region east of the Mississippi River after the French and Indian War.

England lost control of the area that included Indiana after the American Revolution. Indiana became part of the Northwest Territory. It became the Indiana Territory in 1800.

Indiana becomes a state

Indiana became a state on December 11, 1816. The capital is Indianapolis.

bridge-314362_960_720Shawnee Chief Tecumseh

Settlers moved to Indiana in the late 1700s and early 1800s and lived on Native American land. Shawnee Chief Tescumseh didn’t want to keep moving west. He traveled to other tribes, hoping to combine with the Chickasaw, Creek, and Choctaw. He warned his brother not to attack United States soldiers in the area.

While Tecumseh was away, his brother attacked the soldiers. The Native Americans lost the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. General William Henry Harrison won the battle that cost Tecumseh the opportunity of unifying with other Native Americans.

Underground Railroad

Indiana families sheltered runaway slaves before the Civil War. Levi and Catherine Coffin helped over 2,000 runaway slaves and earned Newport, a farming community now called Fountain City, the nickname of “Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad.”

fontana-80642_960_720Indianapolis 500

The world’s most famous car race is the Indianapolis 500. Two hundred laps around a 2.5 mile course was first run on May 30, 1911. The arena holds over 250,000 spectators.

The annual race, hosted by Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is run on Sunday of Memorial Day.

Other fun facts about Indiana

Post offices at Santa Claus, Indiana, are especially busy at Christmas. They receive around a half million letters that are answered individually.

Parke County, with 32 covered bridges, is considered the Covered Bridge Capital of the World.

The rapid-fire machine gun was invented by Richard Gatling in 1862.

The National Road, now U.S. Interstate 40, once had 12 stagecoach lines running through Indiana.



Gutman, Bill. The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States, Random House, 2002.

“Indiana,”, 2016/06/26

“Indiana,” State Symbols USA, 2016/06/26

“Indiana Facts and Trivia,” 50, 2016/06/26




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