First explored for France by Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, in 1679â1680, the region figured importantly in the Franco-British struggle for North America that culminated with British victory in 1763. George Rogers Clark led American forces against the British in the area during the Revolutionary War and, prior to becoming a state, Indiana was the scene of frequent Native American uprisings until the victories of Gen. Anthony Wayne at Fallen Timbers in 1794 and Gen. William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe in 1811.
Indiana's 41-mile Lake Michigan waterfrontâone of the world's great industrial centersâturns out iron, steel, and oil products. Products include automobile parts and accessories, mobile homes and recreational vehicles, truck and bus bodies, aircraft engines, farm machinery, and fabricated structural steel. Wood office furniture and pharmaceuticals are also manufactured.
The state is a leader in agriculture with corn the principal crop. Hogs, soybeans, wheat, oats, rye, tomatoes, onions, and poultry also contribute heavily to Indiana's agricultural output.
Much of the building limestone used in the U.S. is quarried in Indiana, which is also a large producer of coal. Other mineral commodities include crushed stone, cement, and sand and gravel.
Wyandotte Cave, one of the largest in the U.S., is located in Crawford County in southern Indiana, and West Baden and French Lick are well known for their mineral springs. Other attractions include Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, and the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park.
In 2005, a tornado hit Evansville, killing 22 and injuring 200. Storms and tornadoes again were the cause of loss of life in 2012, when Marysville was destroyed and 13 were killed.
Five people were killed and more than 40 were injured when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in 2011.
Vice President Mike Pence - who grew up in Indiana - served as Governor of Indiana for four years.
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Selected famous natives and residents:
- George Ade humorist;
- Leon Ames actor;
- Anne Baxter actress;
- Albert J. Beveridge political leader;
- Larry Bird basketball player;
- Bill Blass fashion designer;
- Frank Borman astronaut;
- Hoagy Carmichael songwriter;
- James Dean actor;
- Eugene V. Debs Socialist leader;
- Lloyd C. Douglas author;
- Theodore Dreiser writer;
- Bernard F. Gimbel merchant;
- Virgil Grissom astronaut;
- Phil Harris actor and band leader;
- John Milton Hay statesman;
- James R. Hoffa labor leader;
- Michael Jackson singer;
- Buck Jones actor;
- Alfred C. Kinsey zoologist;
- David Letterman TV host and comedian;
- Eli Lilly pharmaceuticals manufacturer;
- Carole Lombard actress;
- Shelley Long actress;
- Marjorie Main actress;
- James McCracken tenor;
- Steve McQueen actor;
- Joaquin Miller poet;
- Paul Osborn playwright;
- Cole Porter songwriter;
- Gene Stratton Porter naturalist and author;
- Ernest Taylor Pyle journalist;
- J. Danforth Quayle former vice president;
- James Whitcomb Riley poet;
- Knute Rockne football coach;
- Ned Rorem composer;
- Red Skelton comedian;
- Rex Stout mystery writer;
- Booth Tarkington author;
- Twyla Tharp dancer and choreographer;
- Forrest Tucker actor;
- Harold C. Urey physicist;
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. author;
- Dan Wakefield author;
- Robert Wise director;
- Jessamyn West novelist;
- Wendell Willkie lawyer;
- Wilbur Wright inventor.