Thanks to an influx of northward migrants early in the nineteenth century – including the family of Abraham Lincoln, who lived for fourteen years near the present-day village of Santa Claus before moving to Illinois – much of INDIANA bears the influence of the easy-going South. Unlike the abolitionist Lincolns, many former Southerners brought slaves to this new territory, and thousands rioted against being drafted into the Union army when the Civil War broke out. However, massive industrialization throughout the northwest corner of the state since the late nineteenth century firmly integrated Indiana into the regional economy. On a national level, this sports-happy state is best known these days for automobile racing and high school basketball.
Despite some beautiful dunes and beaches, the most lasting memories provided by Indiana’s fifty-mile lakeshore (by far the shortest of the Great Lakes states) are of the grimy steel mills and poverty-stricken neighbourhoods of towns like Gary and East Chicago. In northern Indiana, the area in and around Elkhart and Goshen contains one of the nation’s largest Amish settlements. The central plains are characterized by small market towns, except for the sprawling capital, Indianapolis, which makes a nice enough stopover. Bloomington, the home of Indiana University (and its perennial standout college basketball team), is the state’s premier college town. Hilly southern Indiana, at its most appealing in the autumn, is a welcome contrast to the central cornbelt, boasting several quaint towns such as Jasper, while thriving Columbus exhibits a great array of contemporary architecture for such a small city.