6 Little Known Facts About Indiana

September 8th, 2016 by

IndianapolisIndiana may look like nothing more than a small boot in the American Midwest, but there’s a lot about the state that you might not know. For instance:

The Brickyard

Over 100 years ago, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was paved with bricks instead of asphalt, earning it the nickname the “Brickyard.” In 1911, the first ever long-distance auto race in America took place on the Brickyard, with racers moving at speeds that averaged 75 miles per hour.

The Indy 500 Today

The Indianapolis 500 is actually 200 laps around the track, and the 500 refers to the number of miles the race covers. The modern Indy 500 also happens to be the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, with 400,000 attendees drinking 14,000 gallons of alcoholic beverages each year. Not only that, but the Motor Speedway’s Brickyard 400 race is the second biggest right behind the Indy 500.

The Crossroads of America

Indiana didn’t pick its state motto on a whim. Back before modern transportation, Indiana was a major artery of the nation, connecting St. Louis and Chicago in the West to the major cities in the Northeast. Even today, Indiana has more miles of interstate per square mile of land than any other state, and it also has the most intersections between interstates.


Indianapolis is often called Naptown, but the exact reason for that is up for debate. According to some, it refers to the fact that Indianapolis was often a place to catch some sleep for travelers heading west or east (it is the Crossroads of America, after all). Others say it’s because Indianapolis was a sleepy community once upon a time, and it caught on because it’s a lot easier to say than the city’s full name. Like many nicknames, we’ll probably never know for sure where it came from, but it’s here now and it’s here to stay.

A Monumental Town

More than just sports, conventions, and car races, Indianapolis also happens to host the second largest number of monuments of any American city. Washington, D.C., holds an unbeatable lead, of course, but Indianapolis comes in second with a solid 33.

The Grave in the Road

Once upon a time in 1831, a woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett died, and her family buried her at her favorite spot: on a small hill overlooking the town. Years went by and what was a single grave became a graveyard. Much later, in the early 20th century, the state of Indiana started moving the local graveyards in order to build a road through the area. However, Nancy Barnett’s grandson, Daniel, objected to the move and guarded his grandmother’s grave with his shotgun. In 1912, Indiana agreed to protect the grave site with a concrete slab and a historical marker and split the road around it.

Indiana’s main metropolis may have the nickname Naptown, but you won’t get a wink of sleep if you show up the day of the Indianapolis 500 or the Brickyard 400. And if you do find yourself in the area, enjoy the monuments, check out a convention, and enjoy your stay at the Crossroads of America.


Image via Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/en/indianapolis-indiana-city-urban-1888215/

Posted in Indianapolis