Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones Jr. is both a respected professor and an accomplished archaeologist who fights to take back ancient and powerful relics from the hands of those who would abuse them. Though, technically, he took the name Indiana from his faithful hound, we still believe the titular hero would've enjoyed the Hoosier State. And there are many adventure-filled sites around Indiana with historical significance that Indy would have loved to visit when he wasn't dodging boulders or gunfire. Here are just a few locations that can make you feel like Indiana Jones!
JD Marshall ShipwreckBack to Top of List
For nearly two centuries, the Indiana Dune State Park has been an important landscape in America scientifically, esthetically, and politically. However, if you go just off their shores, you will find an old-world wonder in Lake Michigan: the JD Marshall shipwreck. As of September 17, 2013, it became the first underwater nature preserve in Indiana; the carrying ship sunk on 6/11/1911 while carrying lumber and sand to and from Indiana and the Chicago area.
Roughly 300 yards from the shore, the site has been marked by seasonal historic marker buoys and an anchoring boat. Beneath the waves, you will see an open-hulled, wooden, steam-powered lumber hooker measuring 154.5ft by 33.5 with a depth of 12ft. With its discovery in 1979 and eventual salvagers attempting to harvest pieces for sale, it became the first underwater nature preserve, and much of it remains visible above the sand dunes, and the wreckage itself is stable today. Dive one of Indiana’s shipwrecks and experience a unique piece of history, just remember—take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but bubbles!
Angel MoundsBack to Top of List
Pieces of the now-extinct Mississippian Tradition are scattered throughout the Angel Mounds historic site, left over from the 1000-people-strong settlement. Leaving no written language and disappearing long before Europeans reached American shores, everything known about them (how they lived, what they farmed, what tools they used) has been discovered using archaeological methods within the 103 acres of their former settlement and trade center. With history stretching back to 1000 A.D, this site tells the story of culture and tradition long lost to time that you are invited to rediscover with a visit to the Angel Mounds State Historical Park.
Marengo CaveBack to Top of List
Discovered in 1883, the Marengo Cave offers two gorgeous tours for everyone’s viewing pleasure—Crystal Palace and Dripstone Trail. It’s been toured since its discovery, and the smooth trails show it, which gives the walkways a smooth and easily-traversable feel. Outside of the trails, the cave has also been known to host weddings, with priests standing at the infamous Pulpit Rock and Natural Bandstand.
The Crystal Palace offers a look into what it's like to discover a cave and shows you all of the natural formations caves are known most for. The Dripstone Trail is longer, and is known for Penny Ceiling, delicate soda straws, and totem pole stalagmites. You and your family will have a wonderful time taking in the combination of the trail’s beauty and its long history of use. We welcome you to visit our most visited natural and National landmark in preparation for the premier; comfortable shoes and a jacket are recommended.
Indianapolis CatacombsBack to Top of List
While ‘catacombs’ brings up images of the famous Paris Catacombs, the tunnels under Indy won’t leave you with images of bones and crypts. Instead, you will be faced with cold air, barreled ceilings, brick archways, an uneven dirt floor, and low lighting that make for stunningly haunted views. The Indianapolis Catacombs got its name from a failed financial venture in the 1970s when a City Market vendor attempted to renovate the underground area and turn it into a shopping mall named ‘the Catacombs.’
It shows the pasts of Indianapolis’s City Market and Tomlinson Hall, which succumbed to a fire in 1958. With only a locked door to signify its start, its maze of archways and columns make for a daring space capable of hosting numerous events—during its life and since, the area has been used as a storage place, shelter, a firing range, an elegant dining area, and a tourist destination. Perhaps because of this lengthy history, many still believe it hosts ghosts and claim bizarre happenings took place within its walls; you can take one of the tours and find out for yourself!
Mounds State ParkBack to Top of List
One of twenty-five state parks operated by the state, Indiana’s Mounds State Park features a multitude of activities, and was once the gathering point for Native American religious rituals and solar tracking—exactly like Stone Hedge!. Evidence shows that the signature mounds were started during 250 BC and took until 50 AD to complete, nearly 300 years. These mounds show hints of their builders as well; the Adena culture gives way to the Ohio Hopewell tradition before fading away fully and partly being developed into an amusement park from 1897 to 1929.
The culture and tradition that ruled the area left their mark; the mounds were regarded as holy symbols of Mother Earth, as well as a way to track solar events similar to Stone Hedge. Evidence left behind shows the religious significance of the mounds in burial rites, and overall religious importance. Others have revealed a possible defense motive against both enemies and nature. Come and see the wonders of Mounds State Park, and sign up for the Indiana State Nature Passport to get your first check as a bonus!
Wyandotte CavesBack to Top of List
Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1972, the Wyandotte Caves boast the fifth largest caves in Indiana and are home to a variety of animals—bats, fish, crickets, salamanders, and more! The area has been uniquely restored to show both its historical significance and natural, scenic views. Created from limestone carved by ancient rivers around two million years ago, it has become known for its large rooms and long passages. Monument Mountain, standing around 135 feet is thought to be the world's largest underground mountain and is one of the notable views you can see within the caverns.
O'Bannon Woods was believed to be home to Native Americans who used the caves for shelter and to mine stone for tools and jewelry for thousands of years. Today, you can see that history splayed throughout both the woods and many of the caverns and passageways; human activity can be traced back to before the Pyramids of Giza! Later, during the War of 1812, Europeans mined for ingredients of gunpowder and left their own trails that can also be traced today. Bring a camera, comfy shoes, and a jacket to catch a Wyandotte Cave tour today and trace these historical marks and activities for yourself!
The Falls of Ohio State ParkBack to Top of List
Travel the path taken by Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark adventure, before he had even met with Clark! Rife with hazards in both high and low water levels, The Falls of Ohio State Park are credited with giving them one of the first trials in their journey. However, it is better known for being one of the best places to find fossils and bird watch today. Part of 1,404-acre National Wildlife Conservation Area, the park features panoramic views and 390-million-year-old fossils—the falls themselves show off a 26 foot drop over two and a half miles. While taking from the park is prohibited, you can take a day hike to 'dry snorkel' across a Devonian-age fossil bed, spot many bird species unique to the ecosystem, or try your luck at sauger, bass, or catfishing!
Experience what it's like to be a Real Archaeologist IN Indiana
Even though Indiana Jones is not your typical archaeologist, many archaeologists in Indiana do great work in uncovering the ancient history of the lands we live in. While it doesn't come with dodging traps or getting shot at, it is important and great work, and now you can experience some of it yourself.
The Archaeological Research Institute (ARI) offers free experiences in Lawrenceburg, ranging from working to uncover ancient secrets in the field and in a lab, as well as working to draw conclusions with its experimental experience. These experiences are for kids and adults, so they are great places to bring your kids and foster their love of science and history. Become a fledgling archaeologist today by clicking here.