Thomas Lincoln Farm Trail

Photo Courtesy NPS

When thinking about “Americana,” many images spring to mind. Apple pie, fields of planted crops, small-town diners flying giant American flags, big city hustle and bustle, and pastoral forests bisected by clean, clear waterways flood the mind with the very essence of the American spirit.

There is one state in the Union in particular that checks all of these “American” boxes and more: the great state of Indiana.

A bellwether for the midwest part of the country, it could be considered that Indiana sits right at the very heart of the country in geographic location and spirit. It has a little bit of everything, including a bustling metropolitan center in Indianapolis and major college hubs in South Bend and Bloomington. Likewise, in between these centers lies some of the most beautiful midwestern land in the entire region.

Aside from all it has to offer, the Hoosier State also boasts a history that is as woven into the American tapestry as any other contemporary state.

Much of this history is preserved in Indiana’s two National Monuments, and neither should be missed by anyone passing through the state that calls itself the “Crossroads of America.”

Read on to learn more about Indiana’s National Monuments:

Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial: The story of one of the most pivotal figures in American history, President Abraham Lincoln, began within the friendly confines of the 19th state in the Union. From ages 7 to 21, a young Lincoln grew, learned, and contributed to his family’s survival in the harsh 19th-century backwoods. The Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial gives visitors a closer look into the formative years of the person who would become the 16th president of the United States and preside over a fractured and reformed nation during the American Civil War. Visitors can learn more about “Honest Abe’s” family, who were influential in the boy he was and the man he became later. Today, all of those who visit are offered guided classes to learn more or can simply pursue the grounds, including the remains of the original Lincoln log cabin and a tribute to the man himself, completed in 1943. For history buffs and American lovers, this National Monument is a must-see!

Horses at Lincoln Boyhood home

Photo Courtesy NPS

USS Indianapolis CA 35 National Memorial: This monument commemorates one of the most horrific and viscerally terrifying events of World War II and the men who died and survived the harrowing ordeal. The USS Indianapolis was a heavy cruiser battleship that delivered the atomic bomb to the tiny island of Tinian in the Pacific during the struggle against the Japanese Empire. Upon successful delivery of the bomb, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese torpedo, with many dying in the attack. For those who survived the initial blast and sinking of the warship, the nightmare was just beginning. Under constant attack from the man-eating sharks that inhabited the waters of the Pacific, it would prove to be the longest days of their lives.

Of the 1,195 men who went into the water, only 316 survived. This memorial, dedicated in 1995, was the passion project of the surviving shipmen determined to erect a fitting monument to their fallen mates. Today, it stands in tribute not only to those brave men lost at sea but to the camaraderie and reverence their fellow sailors had for them. The USS Indianapolis CA 35 Memorial is a solemn site built on love and devotion and can’t be passed by when traveling through Indiana.

USS Indianapolis CA 35 Memorial

Photo Courtesy Indiana War Memorials Foundation