As Indiana citizens prepare to celebrate state’s bicentennial in 2016, it doesn’t really make sense for them to hop on a plane—but they can catch a train.
Originally known as the Indiana History Train, the Indiana Bicentennial Train has welcomed more than 71,000 visitors in its six years of travel. Relying heavily on IHS’s extensive visual and archival collections, the onboard traveling exhibit The Next Indiana occupies three 65-foot renovated Amtrak freight cars.
Temporary “depots” are set up at each location, where visitors can participate in hands-on and educational activities (including marking their “Indiana-versary,” courtesy of Indiana Humanities), catch a 1916 interpreter presentation, connect with the mission and offerings of the Indiana Historical Society, and purchase items from a pop-up History Market.The Indiana Historical Society is in the midst of bringing the Indiana Bicentennial Train to several locations in the southern half of the state. Opening weekend was a huge success in Columbus, where the train welcomed 3,497 guests, including almost 900 local students. Upcoming stops include Jasper (Sept. 25-27), Terre Haute (Oct. 2-4) and Bargersville (Oct. 9-11).
At each stop, visitors also get to connect with several local organizations that offer additional displays and interactive opportunities in the afternoon on Thursday and Friday, as well as all day Saturday.
Even though visitors only get a stationary look at the Indiana Bicentennial Train, its statewide tour requires the cooperative effort of several additional railroads, led by The Indiana Rail Road Company and supported by Norfolk Southern Corporation. Unlike city streets and state and federal highways, most of the 140,000-mile American rail network is owned by private companies that move the nation’s freight.
“Getting the train on the tracks takes an extraordinary effort on the part of our staff and partners, but the train and its associated activities are continuing to generate a lot of enthusiasm for the bicentennial,” said John A. Herbst, IHS President and CEO. “It is designed to have communities look to the past, and then contemplate Indiana’s future and what qualities will make us more successful.”
The Bicentennial Train and its accompanying activities are all free and open to the public, operating 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Every visitor will receive a complimentary pass to visit IHS’s Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.
For more information, to volunteer or to schedule a group visit for the Indiana Bicentennial Train, call (317) 232-1882 or visit www.indianahistory.org/train.
Pictures courtesy of Indiana Historical Society.