Indiana’s history goes back a long way. Important events occurred long before statehood was granted in 1816, and visitors can experience the people and places of the past up close at historic locations across the state. You’re guaranteed to find a new favorite at these 20 historic sites in Indiana. This list is part of The 20 IN 20. Start your decade off on a real adventure in 2020 by doing at least 20 of our 400 incredible things! Find out more about The 20 IN 20 here.
Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, is one of the most respected hoosiers in history. He and his wife began building an Italian-style house with 16 rooms in Indianapolis in 1868. The Harrison’s chose everything in the house, from the division inside to the red brick outside. The house served as a prominent election site during its campaign of 1888 and was his permanent home until his death in 1901. You can now view and explore artifacts, photographs, documents, furniture, and more about Benjamin Harrison’s history! Learn more.
Here you can relive Indiana’s transformation from a territorial outpost to a modern state. As the first capital of Indiana, Corydon is steeped in history. A tour of the original State Capitol, which served as the Indiana government center in the early 19th century, takes you back in time. It is also believed that the first state constitution among the branches of was drafted Verfassungsulme!
After moving to Indiana in the mid-20th century, William Culberston became one of the richest and most philanthropic men in Indiana. His incredible 20,000-square-foot mansion has hand-painted ceilings, a remarkable carved staircase, and other intricate masterpieces. Guided tours of the villa take around an hour, while visitors are rooted in Victorian culture. You can even take part in the real CLUE notice during the holidays! Learn more.
Gene Stratton-Porter fell in love with nature when he grew up in Indiana. In 1887, she and her family decided to build a large house near the Limberlost swamp. While living in the Limberlost Hut, Gene documented nature and eventually became a prominent fictional writer who reached an estimated 50 million readers at its peak. Of her twelve novels, seven are dedicated to nature and eight have been converted into moving pictures. The Limberlost house and the greenhouse are accessible for guided tours! Learn more.
“I grew up there …” Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States and one of the most influential people in American history, spent 14 of his formative childhood in Indiana. The National Memorial offers an insight into the young pioneering life of the future president. A scenic hike through the forest takes you to the Cabin Site Memorial and the tomb of Lincoln’s mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Learn more.
Wilbur Wright, half of the famous Wright brothers, was born in a small farmhouse in the east Henry County, Wilbur and his brother Orville designed, built and tested the world’s first successful aircraft. The Wilbur Wright Birthplace & Museum honors its heritage and allows visitors to learn more about the beginnings of aviation. Guided tours are offered on site. Learn more.
Colonel George Rogers Clark and his army conquered British Sackville in 1779 in one of the greatest achievements of the War of Independence. With the support of French residents, the conquest of Fort Sackville allowed the United States to claim the border. The George Rogers Clark Clark National Historic Park is home to the largest national monument outside of Washington, DC. Learn more.
When the Whitewater Canal was built in the 19th century, the engineering miracle turned Indiana into the “crossroads of America” by creating natural trade routes. The White Water Valley Railroad was built after flooding and droughts damaged the canal. You can experience the story of both in Metamora. 30 minute boat tours of the channel are offered on the Ben Franklin III. Pulled by two Belgian draft horses, it’s an experience like no other. Train rides on the Whitewater Valley Railroad are given from April to December.
After Gene Stratton-Porter was sad about the drainage of the Limberlost swamp, in 1914 she decided to build the “hut in wildlife woods”. With over 148 hectares of prairie, gardens, forests, lakes and wetlands, Gene fell in love with the estate on Sylvan Lake. The visitor center of the carriage house offers visitors the opportunity to learn all about natural subjects such as moths, wildflowers, woodpeckers and more. The graves of Gene and her daughter are on site. Learn more.
In the Vincennes State Historic SiteYou will take a step back in time and see where the Indiana foundations originated. Vincennes was founded in 1732 and is the oldest city in Indiana. As Indiana’s territorial capital, before it officially became a state, territorial officials made decisions that changed the course of history. Guided tours through the territorial capitol building are offered. Learn more.
The 96-hectare park commemorates the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. American forces, led by future President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, fought against the Tecumseh-led Native Confederacy. An 85-foot marble monument, built in 1908, is a tribute to the battle. The Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum tells the story of the battle and places the battle in a geopolitical context.
In the summer of 1803, William Clark received a letter from Meriweather Lewis asking him to go on an expedition to the Louisiana Territory. Lewis and Clark met in Falls of the Ohio later that year to begin their incredible journey west. Your meeting will be honored at Falls of the Ohio State Park, which also houses some of the oldest fossil beds in the world.
The Wabash & Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Ohio Rivers and opened stores across the region. With a pioneer village, an interpretation museum and a functioning canal boat trip, a visit to the Wabash & Erie Canal Park is like a journey back in time.
The Angel Mounds State Historic Site legacy dates back approximately 1,000 years. Around 1000 AD, a group of Native Americans started building a city on the Ohio River. The country was chosen because the river offered protection, with the river on one side and a swamp on the opposite side. The community built large platform hills, defensive palisades and numerous residential houses. Angel Mounds is a great example of Mississippi culture.
Levi and Catharine Coffin from Newport (now known as Fountain City) were two important abolitionist leaders who played a significant role in the Underground Railroad. As conductors, they helped more than 1,000 slaves to get to freedom safely. You can now take a tour of the house that protected the freedom seekers!
The American painter T.C. Steele moved to Brown County with his wife in 1907 to build a house and studio. The gentle hills, the beautiful landscape and the incomparable nature inspired many of his famous works of art. A collection of Steele’s artwork is on display in his home, which he referred to as the “House of the Singing Winds”, The almost unchanged property has a beautiful garden and several hiking trails.
The Immaculate Conception Monastery was founded in 1867 and is home to one of the largest groups of Benedictine women in the country. The unique Romanesque dome of 87 feet makes the nickname “Castle on the Hill” perfect. The great design throughout the church is just one of the reasons why it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Harmony Society decided in 1814 to found the utopian city of New Harmony. The so-called harmonists came from Germany and tried to achieve Christian perfection in every aspect of their lives. After the city was sold 11 years later, two businessmen wanted to make New Harmony a place where education and social equality were paramount. Scientists, scholars and more moved there hoping to live in a utopian society. Tours are offered and start in the Atheneum / visitor center.
Grouseland is the elegant home that was built in 1804 for William Henry Harrison as governor of the Indiana Territory. It is the first brick house in Indiana and a national historical landmark. That being said, Grouseland was more than just a home because it has been the center of the Indiana government for years. William Henry Harrison was elected President of the United States in 1841, but died 31 days after his term in office after suffering from paratyphoid.
Ernie Pyle was born in 1900 in Dana, IN. He worked at the beginning of his career as a journalist when World War II prompted him to become a war correspondent. Articles he has written describe what it is like to be a soldier and what struggles they face. On site you’ll find Ernie Pyle’s birthplace and a museum that shows his life as a journalist and his writings during World War II.
Plan your # The20IN20 trip by looking at the map of historic sites below!
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