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A live weekly radio adventure through Indiana history with host Nelson Price. Airs live on Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET at WICR 88.7 fm in Indianapolis.

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April 22, 2023

Bucket lists of Indiana sites

Why spotlight obvious "bucket list" sites and experiences like going to the Indianapolis 500 or attending the Indiana State Fair? Instead, during this show we will explore a range of Hoosier destinations that don't enjoy as much hype, but nevertheless have made it on a must-do list featured in a new book, "100 Things to do in Indiana Before You Die".

When the author, Indiana native Jamie Ward, joins Nelson as a studio guest, they will focus on a range of intriguing sites across the state: from a sanctuary for rescued pigs in Hendricks County, to one of the state's largest restaurants in Elkhart County (it's known for Amish comfort food), and to an abandoned amusement park in southern Indiana. Jamie Ward is a travel and food writer who lives in central Indiana. She describes her adventures in a blog, "Cornfields and High Heels", that, along with other descriptive info about the Midwest, is featured on her website at fieldsandheels.com.

The pig sanctuary is Oinking Acres Farm Rescue & Sanctuary, where visitors can meet, feed and interact with neglected, abused and unwanted potbellied pigs. According to Jamie's book, more than 300 pigs have been rescued since 2017 at Oinking Acres, which is near Brownsburg.

To folks who plan to visit the sanctuary, a former family farm, Jamie recommends bringing fruit or veggies if feeding the pigs is part of the appeal. She offers this tip: "They love cucumbers, carrots and apples."

Jamie also has tips for visitors to another site on her Indiana bucket list, the massive Essenhaus located near Amish communities in Elkhart County. The Essenhaus (its full official name is Das Dutchman Essenhaus) promotes itself as the largest restaurant in the state, with pies, doughnuts, rolls and other goodies also sold at its bakery. "Try the Amish peanut butter," Jamie recommends in 100 Things to do in Indiana Before You Die. "It is served with the rolls, and it is delicious."

At the other end of the state, an abandoned 1920s amusement park in southern Indiana also has a place on Jamie's bucket list. The ruins of the Rose Island Amusement Park are located in Charlestown State Park and accessible by trails, some of them rugged and steep. Visitors who believe in ghosts may have a field day. In her book, Jamie mentions rumors that the ruins are haunted by spirits from the amusement park's long-ago heyday.

She also gives thumbs up to some natural landmarks, including Cataract Falls, the state's largest waterfall. Located near Spencer in Owen County, Cataract Falls consists of two spectacular falls, upper and lower, in an area managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. In her guidebook, Jamie also urges visitors to check out a historic site nearby, the Cataract General Store. "It was built in 1860, and is the oldest general store in Indiana," Jamie says.

Other "bucket list" sites featured in 100 Things to do in Indiana that we will highlight during our show include:

  • Nick's Kitchen, the restaurant in Huntington that's credited with inventing a Hoosier delicacy: the breaded pork tenderloin. Nicks opened in 1908 and continues to serve the original recipe for its tenderloin sandwich, which Jamie reports is "as big as the plate".

  • The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo. Describing it as "small but mighty", Jamie notes that among the zoo's habitats (they include an Indonesian rainforest), the most popular is an Indiana family farm.

  • And Sweetwater, a massive music store in Fort Wayne where, Jamie says, you can "get your groove on". Sweetwater promotes itself as the largest retail music store in the country. Its campus includes demo studios that enable visitors to try out musical instruments before buying them. There's also an academy that offers music lessons.

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Roadtrip: Jug Rock in Martin County

Guest Roadtripper and veteran broadcaster Ken Marshall suggests a visit to an unusual rock formation along Highway 50 just north of Shoals, Indiana. Shoals is in Martin County in south central Indiana. Jug Rock is a table rock formation oddly set in the gentle woodlands, and it slightly resembles a jug. Geologists have named the area surrounding it the Mansfield Formation.

Jug Rock stands alone in a quiet forest with no open fields or similar rock formations nearby. It is forty-two feet high down in a valley and supports, on its top, a flat projecting layer which is called the "stopper." It is composed of sandstone and is the largest free-standing table rock formation in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

The strange rock can easily be missed due to foliage and trees in spring and summer weather. The surrounding area is part of the Hoosier National Forest

To find Jug Rock, Ken tells us to drive slowly on Highway 50 north of the town of Shoals until you see a street sign for Albright Lane. Pull off the highway there and park in the tiny gravel parking spot. Ken also tells us there is a steep walk down to the base of Jug Rock, and that you should have your hiking shoes on as you walk down to the base to explore or photograph.

Incidentally, the local high school sports teams are called the "Jug Rox" and the school mascot is the "Roxer Boxer". 

While searching for Jug Rock, Ken also found a great local restaurant called Velma's Diner for lunch. Happy Roadtripping!  

Hoosier History Live is an independent production group

Why is Hoosier History Live an outstanding media product? Because we are independent, and we because we make our own business and editorial decisions. We control our quality as best we can. Basically, producer Molly Head makes the business decisions and manages the project. And, she created Hoosier History Live! Host Nelson Price selects and researches the main show topic and guest. And is, of course, the effervescent on-air talent. Where else are you going to learn about history and be entertained all at the same time?

All of our contact information is on our website at www.hoosier history live.org, where you can also sign up for our free weekly enewsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter at Hoosier History Live. Look for our yellow logo to make sure you are at the right place! 

There are ways to help us. Would your business or organization like to offer prizes for the History Mystery on air question? You get an on-air mention by Nelson! Prizes must fit in a standard business envelope, as they are "snail mailed" to winners. Email our producer at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org for more info.

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Sometimes the news today is pretty dreary, and American society seems to become more and more fractionalized. Hopefully, as readers, listeners, and fans, you believe that Hoosier History Live is a project worthy of respect and support.    

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We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • Rachel Berenson Perry
  • Kevin Murray
  • Susan Bielawski in memory of Jane Bielawski
  • Jill Lough Chambers
  • Sandra Hurt
  • Tom Swenson
  • Peggy Hollingsworth
  • Mike Freeland and Sharon Butsch Freeland 
  • Dr. William McNiece
  • Robin Winston
  • Ann Frick
  • James Fadely
  • In memory of William (Bill) Mihay by Bob Wakefield
  • Florence and John Stanton
  • Aleta Hodge
  • Lorraine Phillips Vavul
  • Margaret Smith
  • Jane Hodge
  • Jeff Price

Molly Head, executive producer (317) 506-7164 
Nelson Price, host and historian
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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Leticia Vasselli, Heather McIntyre, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution at the yellow button on our newsletter or website. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in the show, contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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