15 Things You Might Not Know About Indiana
1. Though it is seldom mentioned in the comic strip or cartoon series, "Garfield" takes place in Muncie. The television special Happy Birthday, Garfield mentions Muncie — where creator Jim Davis went to college — as Garfield and owner Jon Arbuckle’s place of residence.
2. Indiana sits atop one of the richest concentrations of limestone on the planet, and prides itself on the fine quality of its mineral output. Indiana’s limestone has helped build the Pentagon, the Empire State Building, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Cathedral, and more.
3. The first gasoline pump was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on Sept. 5, 1885. Its conception, invention, and sale constitute the second greatest triumph of one Sylvanus Freelove Bowser. His greatest triumph, of course, is that name.
4. The 21,000 students attending Ball State University have quite the unique benefactor to thank for their education. The school, founded in 1918, sits on land donated by the Ball Corporation, a company that is most famous for its canning jars but also creates spacecraft and aeronautics equipment.
5. Indiana Jones was born in New Jersey (to a father from Scotland), raised in New Mexico and Utah, schooled in England, and employed in Illinois and Connecticut. He adventured in Nevada, Egypt, Nepal, India, China, Austria, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Peru… and he favored New York professional sports teams. Never once have we seen Dr. Jones, who was created by two fellows from Ohio and California, set foot in Indiana. (Henry borrowed his extracurricular nickname from a childhood dog, in fact.)
6. Nobody seems to know for sure where the Indiana demonym “Hoosier” came from, or what it even means. (There was a gag about this in the Indiana-set comedy film In & Out, in which Lewis J. Stadlen’s character is repeatedly interrupted before he can reveal the origin of the term.) Varied theories attach the terminology to pejorative slang, a frontiersman warning call, a Cumbrian word that might refer to a hilly landscape, the names of labor entrepreneur Samuel Hoosier and Methodist Reverend Harry Hosier, and a satirical yarn involving a Frenchman stumbling upon the aftermath of a brawl in which a man’s ear had been bitten off.
7. Simply by default — as Alexandria resident Michael Carmichael realized one day — there has to be a ball of paint somewhere that is bigger than any other ball of paint on this vast planet. Carmichael then made up his mind to become the owner of that ball of paint. On New Year's Day 1977, Carmichael revisited his favorite childhood activity by dipping a baseball in a bucket of paint. Every year since, he and his family have added coats upon coats of paint to this offbeat art project, winding up with a sphere weighing over 3,750 pounds from more than 23,000 coats of paint. The ball now resides in a shed next to Carmichael's home, where visitors are invited to add a fresh coat of paint to keep the project rolling.
8. Warsaw, Indiana’s nickname might not be as hip and exciting as Sin City or the Big Easy, but it’s certainly more reassuring: the town is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the World, due to its pioneering of the manufacture and distribution of orthopedic appliances between 1895 and 1905. Today, over 50 percent of the world market share for orthopedic devices comes from Warsaw-based companies.
9. For most of us, fouling up a math problem resulted in little more than a few points off the midterm. But one geometric miscalculation got Indiana physician Edwin Goodwin laughed out of the Senate. In 1894, the would-be numbers whiz — believing he had discovered a game-changing method for the impossible task of squaring a circle — approached Representative Taylor Record with a legal proposal ever so humbly titled, “A Bill for an act introducing a new mathematical truth and offered as a contribution to education to be used only by the State of Indiana free of cost by paying any royalties whatever on the same, provided it is accepted and adopted by the official action of the Legislature of 1897.” Despite being anything but mathematically sound, Goodwin’s proposal made it from Indiana’s House of Representatives all the way to State Senate, where it actually had a fair chance at passing… until Senator Orrin Hubbell proclaimed it no man or government’s authority to sanction the properties of math. After that, as history tells, everyone pretty much got on the anti-Pi Bill (as it is derisively, albeit inaccurately, nicknamed), and laughed Goodwin out of the legislative process.
10. On March 31, 1880, Wabash became the first city to be illuminated by electric light. Ohio inventor Charles Brush, who had once brought light to a Cleveland park, was on the hunt for a grander conquest: an entire town. Teaming with the Common Council of Wabash, Brush adorned the courthouse flagstaff with a set of four 3,000-candlepower lamps rigged to a generator. The glow is said to have been visible at a mile’s distance, and to have been witnessed by 10,000 citizens.
11. If you’ve ever found yourself belting a karaoke anthem of “Louie, Louie,” then you’ve experienced the distinct realization that you’ve never understood any of the words (well, save for the titular refrain) in the catchy Kingsmen tune. In the 1960s, Indiana took issue with this incomprehensibility, assuming that the rock ditty was intentionally mumbled to hide its lyrics' obscene nature. As such, the state's radio stations stopped airing the song at the request of Governor Matthew Walsh (who was coerced into banning the number by, of all people, a contemporary teenager).
12. Historically, Indiana has produced more professional basketball players per capita than another state, sending 26 of every million citizens to the NBA. Indiana’s tenth-largest city, Muncie, also holds the distinction of being the metropolitan area to produce the most players per capita (with 59 players per every million). Indiana is also responsible for the largest number of high school students to participate in the McDonald’s All-American game: 44 of the 888 young men to play in the competition since 1977 have hailed from Indiana.
13. While a handful of states have Indiana beat in overall ice cream production, the plucky little state certainly makes the most of what it has. According to a study in 2011, Indiana produced 87 million gallons of ice cream from only 19 factories over the course of the year. That’s 4.6 million gallons per factory, which greatly outshines Texas's 1.4 million gallons per factory (97 million gallons total from 71 factories) and California’s 800,000 gallons per factory (162 million gallons total from 202 factories).
14. The very first peacetime train robbery in documented history happened just outside of Seymour. Local boys the Reno Gang (otherwise known as the Jackson Thieves, named so for the Indiana county they called home) pioneered the gambit on October 6, 1866, swiping over $10,000 from passengers headed east.
15. Indiana’s Heritage House Convalescent Center has housed a couple of noteworthy residents. Edna Parker, the oldest living person between the years of 2007 and 2008, and Sandy Allen, the tallest woman in American history, resided in the Shelbyville retirement center at the same time.