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Indiana Travel Tips

INDIANA TOURIST INFORMATION: (800) 289-6646

Statehouse, Indianapolis (317) 223-5293
This 1878 Roman Renaissance Capitol is located in the heart of a modern, downtown Indianapolis. It massive structure occupies a large city block with four avenues running to the east, west, north and south, like spokes radiating out from a wheel, with the gleaming copper dome as its hub, atop which is a small domed lantern, giving the appearance of a giant teapot lid. Corinthian columns, Roman porticoes, and colonnades give the Capitol a distinctively Roman character. Like the avenues converging to the outside of the Capitol, the corridors inside the building all converge in the center rotunda where a 48-foot wide stained glass inner dome rises 108 feet.

Check it out . . .in the old days the basement was the stables for the employees horses and carriages. Behind the Supreme Court bench is a back stairway that leads directly to the justice's stables. It's been claimed that if the 19th century judges made an unpopular decision on a case, they could make a fast getaway from the unruly mob.

Check it out . . . Exiting the front doors of the Capitol presents an exquisite view down the street of the Soldiers & Sailors monument, a large, beautiful sculpture and fountain that looks very much like the one in Trafalgar Square in London.

Indianapolis 500 Speedway, Indianapolis (317) 484-6747
When the speedway was built in 1909, Indianapolis -- not Detroit-- was the leader in the fledgling automobile industry. The track was built as a combination racetrack and testing facility for new automobiles. With the first auto race held in 1911, the Indianapolis Speedway is the oldest continuously operated race course, and the largest one-day sporting event facility in the world. When not in use, tourists can ride around the famous 2-1/2 mile oval track via a museum-sponsored bus. The Hall of Fame museum, also on the grounds, displays more than 75 racing cars -- including some Indy 500 winners, as well as engines, helmets, trophies, historic photographs and other priceless memorabilia. In front of the museum is the "Old-Timers" monument with bronze busts of Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, and other famous automobile pioneers. A quote by Louis Chevrolet, "Never give up" is appropriately featured.

Howard Steamboat Museum, Jeffersonville (818) 283-3728
Housed in the original 1894 Victorian Mansion built by the second generation of premier shipbuilders, the Howards of Jeffersonville, the Howard Steamboat Museums displays a large collection of steamboat models, tools, artifacts, documents, photos, paintings and pieces of equipment and interior features from steamboats long departed. These items are unobtrusively displayed in the beautiful riverfront mansion, which magnificently blends Victorian design elements with riverboat themes. Surprisingly, the Victorian mansion and its decorative accents borrowed from of the riverboats, the "floating palaces," blend very nicely. Every fireplace and every decoration is unique while each room has a story, depicted in its furnishings and design.

The Falls of the Ohio State Park, Clarksville (812) 280-9970
Established in 1990 as Indiana's 20th state park, the Falls of the Ohio specializes in interpretation and education of the history prior to and beyond the Devonian period. Four hundred million years ago, the area around the Falls of Ohio was covered by an inland tropical sea. Within the sea there thrived vast numbers of coral sandfish, fish being the most highly evolved life form at the time. As the corals and other sea life died, they were buried in layers of limy sediment that caused them to be fossilized. During the retreat of the ice age glaciers, rushing melting water carved out the Ohio River basin and exposed this Devonian fossil bed, providing a unique view of the ancient coral sea floor, preserved in stone -- one of the largest naturally-exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world.

Tip: Visit the musuem first to gain an understanding of the past, present and future of this area, through films, displays, dioramas, and push-button "talking exhibits." Here, visitors can learn what to look for, what to appreciate, when walking the "outdoor museum" of the ancient fossils on this urban riverfront. The juxtaposition of the Louisville skyline across the shores make this tour of fossilbeds a bit more fascinating than seeing fossils in a remote area. The evolution of life and urbanization of man are depicted on two separate shores of the river.

Mennonite-Amish Visitors Center, Shipshewana (219) 768-4117
How did the Mennonites emerge in the year 1525? Why did Europe's rulers slaughter them by the thousands? What caused the Amish to break from the Mennonites in 1693? Why do Amish drive buggies and wear plain clothes? The Mennonite-Amish Visitor's Center tells the story of the Anabaptists struggles, and escape to the New World while the religious group branched out into the Hutterites, Mennonites, and Amish, and the differences between the three. The displays of artifacts, replicas, and voice-over narrations of actual diaries are fascinating.

Check it out . . . Tucked in a corner, very easy to miss, is the "Tornado Room." Visitors go in side, and the door shuts tightly behind them while the feeling and sensation of the approach, the arrival and the departure of a tornado envelopes the audience of fewer than five people who vicariously experience its horrors.

OUR CAMPSITE FOR THE WEEK

Cunningham Campers, Inc. (812) 284-0276
Had an RV breakdown on the highway, six miles from this sales and repair center (See Diary). Dragged the broken trailer to this RV repair center and made this our home as we waited for parts to come in. The owners graciously gave us electricity and water and treated us as well as any hosts at a campground. They gave us touring tips, directions and wonderful advice. Everyone at this family-owned RV sales and repair center was kind, thoughtful, helpful and compassionate of our situation. But more so, they were capable. The mechanic, Bill, who worked on our trailer was diligent in checking and double-checking everything. We left this site confident that the repairs were thorough and complete. Oh, and best of all, the prices were very reasonable. Can't say enough good things about this RV center.

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