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Indiana's hidden treasures: some of the state's less-known attractions are worth discovering.

Most everyone knows about Indiana's hottest tourist spots--places like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Conner Prairie, the Indiana Dunes and Nashville. State tourism officials are trying to shed some light on the treasures that aren't as well known.

The Division of Tourism chose seven "jewels" to spotlight for the 1993 National Tourism Week--Berne Furniture in Berne, Hillerich & Bradsby Slugger Park in Jeffersonville, Menno-Hof in Shipshewana, Col. William Jones Historic Site in Jonesboro, Centerville Antiques in Centerville, Cataract Falls in Lieber State Recreation Area, and Freetown Village at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

The following are descriptions of these new "hidden treasures" as well as other tourism gems across Indiana, mostly hidden treasures state tourism selected in past years. For more in-depth information on these attractions, contact local tourism bureaus or call the Indiana Tourism Division at 317/232-8860 or 800/289-6646.


Many of Hobart's locals may not even know about all of the treasures hidden away in the 960-acre Deep River County Park. There are daily grinding demonstrations in Wood's Old Mill (circa 1838), a three-story restored and operating grist mill that grinds corn, wheat and other grains into meals and flours. The town of Hobart was built around the mill, the first industry in Lake County. The Visitor Center, Gift Shoppe and Nature Center are open daily May through December. Some programs are held year-round, such as bird hikes and sessions conducted in the herb and Victorian gardens by the Deep River Gardeners. Pause for a quiet time in the meadow or by the old mill stream, see the sawmill and historic baseball field. The park is located at 9410 Old Lincoln Highway. For 24-hour info, call 219/769-PARK or 219/769-9030; reservations for historical tours, 219/755-3685.

The Indiana Wildlife Viewing Guide says the Kingsbury State Fish and Wildlife Area is a place for viewing deer year-round, plus mink, raccoons, beaver or muskrats. The area's 6,000 acres include wetlands full of fowl and fur-bearing animals. Some may enjoy bird watching, canoeing, boating, hiking and nature photography. Others may enjoy hunting, fishing or archery. LaPorte's Kingsbury is bordered by the Kankakee River and Tamarak Lake, which has bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass and northern pike. Contact the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 1-800/634-2650.


At the Bird's Eye Museum of Miniatures, about 10 miles south of Elkhart, is a miniature replica of the little farming town of Wakarusa. Said to be the world's largest display of its kind, it's made from toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, steel wool and other materials. Located at 325 S. Elkhart St., Wakarusa, the museum is open daily. Call 219/862-2367.

Historic auto buffs discover surprises at the S. Ray Miller Foundation Antique Car Museum at 2130 Middlebury St. in Elkhart. The world's largest collection of auto emblems can be seen here, along with dozens of antique and classic autos, including a 1930 Duesenberg "J" Murphy convertible owned by Al Capone's lawyer, and one of Carole Lombard's cars. Many on display were manufactured in Northern Indiana--Auburn, Cord, Studebaker, to name a few. Hours are Monday to Friday, 1 to 4 p.m., and the last Saturday and Sunday of the month, 12 to 4 p.m. Call 219/522-0539.

For an Amish sojourn, travel to Shipshewana to the Menno-Hof Mennonite-Amish Visitors Center, across the street from the Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market along Indiana 5. History buffs will get a minicourse--complete with multimedia presentations and colorful displays--on Mennonite and Amish cultures before touring their respective communities. Inside the center, a model dungeon shows how Christian martyrs were imprisoned, cramped sleeping quarters of a 17th century sailing ship show living conditions, and a tornado room depicts a Midwest twister. The triumphant part of the Amish-Mennonite story is in the quiet of a meetinghouse at the end of the tour. Hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 219/768-4117.


The town of Grabill features many quaint treasures carefully preserved in all their authenticity, despite manufacturing operations that make it a modern town. Hear the sound of ever-present horse hooves because Grabill, which features culture in several of the town's art galleries, is in the middle of one of the nation's largest Old-Order Amish settlements. It's an antique-lover's paradise (its antique mall has 65 dealers); a country food-lover's delight (with Amanda's Country Inn, Home of Elias Ruff Restaurant and the Grabill Inn); and a shopper's haven (Souder's General Store and many others). Contact Grabill Promotions, P.O. Box 7, Grabill, IN 46741, for a brochure.

Established in Fort Wayne in 1928, the Lincoln Museum has the largest privately owned research library and collection of Lincoln memorabilia in the world. It portrays the former president's full life, from his birth in a Kentucky log cabin in 1809 to his days as a Hoosier to his 1865 assassination. Displayed are a plethora of artifacts, manuscripts, campaign and political memorabilia, personal family belongings and even the flag from his box at the Ford Theatre. Admission is free at the museum at the headquarters of Lincoln National Corp., at 1300 S. Clinton. Call 219/455-3864.

Berne Furniture has developed a reputation for excellence since its founding in 1925. Swiss-style craftsmanship is behind the company's fine handmade furniture. Its facilities are open to the public during regularly scheduled tours, which happen on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays at 10 and 11 a.m. and 1 and 2 p.m. Call 219/589-2173.


At the Parrish Pioneer Farm Museum outside Idaville on U.S. 24, the daily life and chores of 1834 are carried out. This living-history museum has 14 authentically restored 18th and 19th century buildings to show early pioneer habits, customs and hardships. A doctor's office, country store, log schoolhouse and White County's oldest house are among them, but the newest is the herb house and garden. An old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration is coming up; call 219/826-4163.

Old Ben, who resides at Highland Park in Kokomo within a glass-enclosed building, is the world's largest steer. This two-ton crossbred Hereford was an attraction at county fairs for several years following his birth in 1902 until he slipped on the ice in 1910 and had to be "put to rest." He lives on as a stuffed steer. Contact the Howard County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 317/457-6802 or 800/831-0971.

Just north of Lafayette in the little town of Battle Ground is Wolf Park, an education and research wildlife park. The only known facility where wolves are allowed to mingle with a small herd of bison, it also has coyotes and foxes. Special demonstrations are held Sundays at 1 p.m., May to November, but lectures are given daily. Call 317/567-2265.

Model aeronautic hobbyists from all over the world descended on Muncie last summer for the opening of the Academy of Model Aeronautics. Moved from Virginia, its new international headquarters at 5151 E. Memorial Drive near Prairie Creek Reservoir will bring model airplane enthusiasts to its national and international competitions throughout the year. Being developed at the academy is the National Model Aviation Museum. For information, call 317/289-4236.


Rockville Historic District has been approved for the national register, to the delight of architecture aficionados. The Italianate Parke Cafe was the first place on the town's historic square--which surrounds the Second Empire French courthouse--to be restored to authentic Victorian colors. Contact the Parke County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 317/569-5226.

It took an act of Congress to put the World War II German Buzz Bomb on the Putnam County Courthouse lawn in Greencastle when the Navy was about to junk it. But the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the city wanted it for a war memorial. It is believed to be the only one on public display in the United States. Contact Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 317/653-8743.

At Seventh and Ohio streets in downtown Terre Haute stands the enormous Indiana Theatre, an almost-pure 17th-century Spanish Baroque building. When it opened in 1922, live peacocks actually strutted about in the lobby. Today there are movies, live performances, and tours. Call 812/232-9372.

Cataract Falls at Lieber State Recreation Area is Indiana's largest waterfall. Visitors may view the falls from a covered bridge. The cascade is a quarter-mile long, with a drop of more than 80 feet. The recreation area is in Putnam and Owen counties off the Greencastle/Cloverdale exist of Interstate 70.


The pulse of Indy can be measured at the Indianapolis City Center, on the ground floor of the Pan American Plaza across from the Hoosier Dome. When it first opened 13 years ago, it was the first such center in the country. Residents, tourists and convention visitors use this one-stop resource to pick up more than 300 brochures, see the audio-visuals or simply buy souvenirs. Open daily. Call 317/237-5200 or 800/323-INDY.

Freetown Village, an exhibit at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, makes black history come alive. It depicts life as it was in black communities in 1870, with a mission of educating the public about the lives and culture of African-Americans in post-Civil War Indiana.

At Stonycreek Farm at 11366 Indiana 38 East in Noblesville, enjoy a "real farm experience" during seasonal activities, April to December. The farm features a gift shop and herb barn, summer garden walks and classes, hayrides, basket workshops and the new Buggy Barn of antiques. This month, learn about herbal seasonings or how to make "farmhouse tea." Call 317/773-3344.

You can literally find treasures at Silver Towne, a nationally known dealer of coins and other collectibles located in Winchester. Some 42 people are on staff to make deals involving rare and unusual items and fine jewelry. The business, which also includes gift shops, is hooked into the national markets by satellite link. Call 800/788-7481.

Seventy German-hybrid rose bushes grace the beds of the Friendship Garden, a project developed in conjunction with a garden in Zweibrucken, Germany. This new garden at Glenn Miller Park on U.S. 40 in Richmond lies between the E.G. Hill Memorial Garden with its mixed choice of flowers and a fountain, and the Richmond Rose Garden with American roses. Free admission. Call 317/983-7275.

Near Richmond is Centerville, home of Centerville Antiques, which with more than 500 dealers is known as the world's largest antique mall. There also are 10 individual shops and three additional malls in the area, making Centerville a haven for collectors. The town is located along U.S. 40.


The Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is a 1,200-acre haven where outdoor enthusiasts may fish, boat, hike and view wildlife. Migrating warblers, beavers, muskrats, painted turtles and other animal life may be seen on the Griffy Lake Canoe Trail in early morning or early evening hours. For maps and times, contact the Monroe County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800/800-0037.

Those who relish the bygone era of romanticized desperados may check out the John Dillinger Historical Wax Museum in Nashville, where the Dillinger story is retold in photographs, newspaper articles and wax figures. Even his wooden pistol, lost for 50 years after his Lake County escape, is displayed. The original chipped tombstone, which marked Dillinger's grave in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, can be seen here. Call 812/988-1933.

Not far from Columbus is the only Moravian community in Indiana, Hope. Moravians settled here in 1830 (from Winston-Salem, North Carolina), built three schools, the 1830s God's Acre Cemetery, and the 1875 Hope Moravian Church. Visitors may attend services. Writer Jean Glick of Hope writes, "For the Easter sunrise service, Hopeites are awakened by a trombone band playing at street corners before the 6 a.m. service that starts in the church and ends in a procession to God's Acres." Contact Columbus Visitor Information and Promotion, 812/378-2622 or 800/468-6564.


Indiana's newest state historic site is the Col. William Jones Historic Site in Jonesboro in Spencer County. Jones employed Abraham Lincoln as a helper in his store until Lincoln left the area in 1830. Both Jones and James Gentry are mentioned in Lincoln lore as young Abe's influential employers. Call 812/937-2802.

The Lincoln Pioneer Village at Rockport was built in 1935 in tribute to Lincoln. The cabins and artifacts were rebuilt or replicated to reflect the era, 1816 to 1830, when he lived here. They include a law office, schoolhouse, Baptist Church, the Lincoln Cabin, an inn and a barter house. For group tours, call 812/362-7705.

When Saint Meinrad Archabbey was founded in 1854 by Benedictine monks from Switzerland, the first home was a primitive log cabin. The Spencer Sounty monastery is expansive today with its Abbey Church, library of 128,000 volumes, seminary buildings and Abbey Press. The archabbey and seminary are made from local sandstone in Romanesque style. Visitors may attend services, browse the Abbey Press Gift Shop (off Indiana 545), or stay at the St. Jude Guest House. Call 812/357-6611.


Near Seymour is Redbrush Park, a family resort with plenty of fun and unusual activities. There are peaceful lakes with great fishing, acres and acres of woodlands with scenic hiking trails, a quaint country store, plus swimming, waterslides, a skyride through the woods, miniature golf and a petting zoo. There are campsites and "treehouse" cottages, villas and rooms. Call 812/497-2480.

The Ohio River Scenic Route starts on the Ohio River at Aurora and winds lazily over a 75-mile stretch to Madison. Take Indiana 56 and 156 along the northern bank of the Ohio for a peaceful glimpse of Midwestern life in the 1800s. See the tiny towns of Vevay and Rising Sun; both have wonderful B&Bs. When you get to Madison, a blue-and-white sign declares, "End Ohio River Scenic Route." For a map and information, call 812/427-3237 or 800/HELLO-VV.

Finally, in Jeffersonville is the Hillerich & Bradsby Slugger Park, home of the famed "Louisville Slugger" hardwood baseball bat. Visitors can watch bats and golf clubs being made at Hillerich & Bradsby, and there's a museum on the premises. Call 502/585-5226, extension 227.
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Author:Faris, Charlene
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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