on the road

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gadfly homepage on the road home notes on places last contact: 1/2010 first contact: 7/1988

IN Trip Stats (8/06):


Counties visited: 26

Best county: Jasper Co.

Town visited most: Michigan City

Places slept in: Notre Dame, Merrillville, Cedar Lake

Most impressive town: Hebron

Least impressive town: Hammond

Biggest town: Indianapolis

Most scenic area: the Kankakee valley in Jasper County

Most scenic spot: Indiana Dunes

Three Words: crossroads, lively, Midwestern

State Animal: pork tenderloin

Road Trips: several, including Niagara Loop, Appalachia Trip,  Honeymoon, and several trips to Wheatfield area and to the Warren Dunes in MI


Neighboring States: MI, OH, IL, KY


Major passes: Horizontal: I-90 Corridor. Completely crossed state along toll road from Hammond to Angola Horizontal: I-65 Corridor. Completely crossed five times from Louisville to Gary. I-65 & I-74 Corridors. Complete pass twice from Gary to West Harrison.


Heroes: There is a John Cougar Mellencamp museum at a truck stop just south of Indianapolis. Another local pop musician Babyface has a highway named for him in Indianapolis. The race car drivers of Indy and the Fighting Irish and Knute Rockne are other local heroes.


Comments: It's old plates bragged of being "the Crossroads of America," as if Indiana was hurrying us visitors along. They must be hiding something!


Indiana is a place that is hard to understand for those not of the Midwest. Many see a flat place with no striking features whatsoever.  Those people are idiots. I despise them as they watch their DVDs in their cars and drift off to sleep. They fail to appreciate the big skies, the rolling forested moraines, and the main drags of towns every few miles. A Midwest town is always one steeped in tradition and one with an untold history. So, while you may begin to feel that you're missing something as an East Coaster, we like it that way.

indiana.jpg (13585 bytes)

First Contact: I first remember visiting Indiana in July of 1988 on day trip with my family to Wheatfield to plant flowers at the grave of my great-grandparents. When the Skyway drops you in the state at US-41 you are in Hammond, so I suppose that was my first city passed through in Indiana. I was unimpressed and bored with the farms of Jasper County, according to the diary I was keeping at the time and like most Chicagoans grew to avoid the Hoosier State save for gas and fireworks. My work in genealogy brought me back to Jasper County recently, where I discovered how truly beautiful the wide open sky above the corn fields and forests can be. Indiana likes to hide itself and often plays hard to get.

Lake Co. (7/1988)

Suburban Chicago villages. This is the blue collar side of the city where dirty business gets down: hauling, shipping, steel mills. It has its fair share of problems and has long been a hiding place for the more notorious of Chicagoland. Whiting. Hammond. Casinos and lonely shipyards. East Chicago. Gary. This city has a bad reputation as the murder capital of the U.S. and the birhplace of Michael Jackson. I never hang around much to see if it lives up to the talk. Merrillville. Stayed here once to see a Broadway show. The Lincoln Hwy divides Chicagoland from the rest of Indiana. Schererville. Munster. Dyer. Tell the IL governor how you feel about him by buying gas here. Crown Point. Hobart. Pronounced "Ho-Bert," stupid. Lake Station. Cedar Lake. Visited town as part of Easter retreat with FPBC. Pleasant quasi-suburban town surrounding lake. Lowell. Being built up into a suburb. Creston. Belshaw. North Hayden. Drove down a creepy barely paved street on Illinois border near here.

Newton Co. (7/1988)

Roselawn. Passed through a bunch of times, but never smelled the roses. Lake Village.

Jasper Co. (7/1988)

This place a personal significance as the birthplace of my grandmother. Well-explored. Roads stretch a straight path for miles through wheat fields and big skies. Demotte. The most civilized part of the Kankakee Valley. Wheatfield. Yard sales on every corner. The burial place of my ancestors is along the road at IN-49 at Sorrowful Mother. Railroad cuts a border to the town. Many eyes watch you drive through.  Kniman. The site of the "Old Forty" in family history, where Clemens Ott built his lonely farm and church. Now the town is a few trees, a man on a riding mower, and a schoolhouse converted into a bar. A man there revelled in telling me stories one spring afternoon. Remington. Rensselaer.  

Porter  Co. (1997)

The Chicago identity of the lakeshroe dwindles away. Valparaiso. Portage. Chesterton. Indiana Dunes NP. The famous dunes once stretched all the way to Chicago. If here in winter be ready for snow. Burns Harbor. Beverly Shores. Exclusive neighborhood in the dunes. Hebron. Kankakee valley town that has the most perfect main drag in the Midwest. Get ice cream and firearms. Kouts. A nice town that would prefer you drive right on.

Laporte Co. (1997)

Michigan City. Another lakeshore city with some issues and a big nuclear cooling tower. The outlet mall meant to reinvigorate downtown has not worked, but I always stop for some Pepperidge Farm crackers. Always a place to stop for gas and provisions. Michiana Shores. US-12 looks like it does everywhere...

St. Joseph Co. (1997)

Notre Dame. Site of the beautiful campus of Notre Dame University. Lake Mary and Joseph, the grotto, Touchdown Jesus, and the Golden Dome are a great way to stick it to the Klan that once dominated Indiana politics secretly. South Bend. Blue collar city on the St. Joe River. More Italians now than Fighting Irish.

Elkhart Co. (2003)

Passed through farm and forests of Elkhart once on the way to Cleveland along Indiana Toll Road.

LaGrange Co. (2003)

Shipshewana. Here the Amish are utilized as tourist attractions. They do make some of the items that are pawned off to retired people in the stores, but most of them seem to be running small farms on the outskirts of the town and not bothering too much with the village. Lagrange. Howe. Watch for horses and buggies along the roads.

Steuben Co. (2003)

Passed through on the way to Cleveland once. Driving through Steuben County reveals what the Midwest is all about. Fremont. Has some significance to historical research done for a friend.

Clark Co. (200?)

Passed through the industrial suburbs of Louisville about three times. There always seems to be road construction here. Jeffersonville. Sellersburg.

Scott Co. (200?)

A resident of this county commented with some scorn that I "must've been far from home." ... "Not too far," I responded. She persisted to disagree. Must be a provincial place. Vienna. Scottsburg.

Jackson Co. (200?)

Passed through a few times along I-65 and US-31. Muscatatuck NWR. Crothersville. Uniontown.

Bartholomew Co. (200?)

Passed through along I-65 a few times on the way home from the South. Columbus.

Shelby Co. (200?)

Passed through a few times along I-65 and once along I-74 on the way to Cincy.

Johnson Co. (200?)

Franklin. Edinburgh. A good resting spot on the road is the outlet mall here, which included (at one point) a museum dedicated to pop star John Cougar Mellencamp.

Marion Co. (200?)

Indianapolis. Chicago's ugly cousin. Stopped a few times for a rest in this metropolis. The city is in that strange zone where the Midwest of the Great Lakes meets the Midwest of the Ohio River. Don't miss the honorary Babyface Highway sign.

Boone Co. (200?)

Passed through grain fields about three times on the way home from the South along I-65. Lebanon.

Clinton Co. (200?)

Passed through grain fields about three times on the way home from the South along I-65.

Tippecanoe Co. (200?)

Passed several times on the way home from the South. Forests dominate the land around the Wabash River. Lafayette. Halfway between Chicago and Indy. As a historian interested in local history I feel the spirits always telling me to stop at the site of the battle of Tippecanoe.

White Co. (200?)

Passed through the wide open wheat fields several times on the way home from the South. (Never been to the famed beach.)

Rush Co. (200?)

Passed through twice on the way to Cincinnati. 

Decatur Co. (200?)

Passed through twice on the way to Cincinnati. 

Franklin Co. (200?)

Passed through twicet on the way to Cincinnati. 

Ripley Co. (200?)

Passed through twicet on the way to Cincinnati. 

Dearborn Co. (200?)

Passed through twice on the way to Cincinnati. Forested Ohio valley.

Posey Co. (7/2006)

Crossed wide Wabash River here at I-64 and then turned back to Illinois on the way home from Southern Illinois. I wanted to see the legendary river.

A lonely, half-paved road cuts through the big skies of spring around Kniman in Jasper County. (2002)

The Golden Dome of Notre Dame University on the South Bend campus. (2004)

A farm field near Demotte. (2002)