1843 was a big year for Delphi, Indiana. That was the year the Wabash and Erie Canal reached the Lafayette and Delphi settlements. They could now export products they produced—mostly agricultural products— to the east within a couple of weeks. They could also import needed tools, supplies, and cultural products like pianos. Within a few decades, however, the railroads came through. Faster than donkeys could tow a boat and able to run year-round, trains took over the transportation industry. Canal boats became obsolete.
Today the Wabash and Erie Canal is active again in Delphi, albeit for just the distance it takes for visitors to experience a short replica canal boat ride. In addition to the boat ride, an interpretive center filled with hands-on exhibits, a reconstructed 1850s village, and walking trails add to the canal experience. Read more
The year is 1859. Experienced balloonist John Wise attempts to deliver airmail for the first time in U.S. history. He plans to fly his balloon from Lafayette, Indiana, to New York City with a bag of 123 letters. Unfortunately, the wind blows in the wrong direction. Instead of flying northeast, the balloon flies southward. He gives up after 30 miles and lands in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Fast forward to 2017 and the Conner Prairie living history museum where one of the attractions, the 1859 Balloon Voyage, represents Wise’s airmail attempt.
I was excited to ride in the Conner Prairie 1859 Balloon Voyage because despite my fear of heights, a ride in a hot-air balloon is on my bucket list. The 1859 Balloon Voyage isn’t quite the same as a hot-air balloon ride, but it’s a step towards it. Read more
From the mid-1930s through the 1960s International Friendship Gardens was a popular tourist destination. The gardens in Michigan City, Indiana, represented countries around the world. The venue also hosted musical and theatrical entertainment. The gardens lost popularity from the 1970s to the early 2000s, but have now sprung back. Today people visit the newly named Friendship Botanic Gardens to stroll through rejuvenated gardens, hike forest paths, and even get married. Read more
Did you know there are fossil beds in Indiana? They’re some of the the largest, naturally exposed Devonian fossil beds in the world! Last autumn we visited Falls of the Ohio State Park, where the fossil beds are located. Luckily, it was the river’s low time of the year, and it happened to be lower than in most years. That meant more fossils were exposed than usual. Read more
As a youth, Dr. Ted Waflart frequented a local Louisville amusement park with his buddies. His favorite ride was the carousel, but he couldn’t let his friends know that. So he rode roller coasters with them. However, whenever Ted passed the carousel, he slowed his pace, for it was the calliope music, rather than riding the carved horses, that really captured his attention. Today Dr Ted’s Musical Marvels, in southern Indiana’s Dubois County, showcases Dr. Ted’s mechanical music instruments that he has collected and restored for over 40 years. Read more
Most everyone is familiar with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But there’s more than one race track in the “racing capital of the world.” Lucas Oil Raceway is only seven miles from the Speedway, and some big races run there, as well. Read more
Last fall we visited League Stadium in Huntingburg, Indiana. League Stadium is where the 1992 hit movie A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, was filmed. Today the Dubois County Bombers summer collegiate baseball league team plays in the stadium. However, our 2016 visit was post-season. The college players had gone back to school. The Rockford Peaches and Racine Belles from the movie were long gone. Even the vintage billboard signs had been taken down for maintenance. As I stood in the stands, I could only imagine a baseball game being played in the retro-style League Stadium.
This summer my imagined game became reality. Not only did we see the Dubois County Bombers play; it was also the 25th anniversary of A League of Their Own. The Rockford Peaches played a “rematch” game against the Racine Belles. In fact, Bitty Schram, the actress who played the Rockford Peach who cried during the game, came back for the anniversary celebration. Following the rematch game, we stayed for a Dubois County Bombers regular season game. Read more
Wolf Park docent, Caity, started howling, wolf-style. One by one, Bicho, Fiona, and Kanti tilted their snouts skyward and joined the howl. A few moments later we heard more howling in the distance. This was our greeting to Howl Night at Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana. Read more
The French Lick Resort in French Lick, Indiana, has no shortage of dining options. Choose from delis, bars and grills, a buffet, or fine dining. On our latest French Lick visit we dined at Hagen’s Club House Restaurant, located at the resort’s historic Donald Ross Golf Course. Afterward we stayed for the gorgeous sunset view over the course. Read more
Over 20 years ago we visited Conner Prairie, an outdoor history museum in Fishers, Indiana. I remember the 1836 Prairietown, where costumed interpreters stay in character. I remember the William Conner House, home of the early 1800s trader, entrepreneur, and politician. And I remember getting to hold a lamb as we watched sheep being sheared.
Fast forward to 2017 and our second Conner Prairie visit. What a change! The 1836 Prairietown and William Conner House are still there, but they’ve added so much more. We experienced a balloon voyage, which lifted us to heights higher than the Statue of Liberty. We climbed a four-story treehouse in the woods. And we found ourselves in the midst of the Civil War, Disneyesque style.
This first article in a series about Conner Prairie introduces you to William Conner, his two very different lifestyles, and his home on the prairie. Read more