Wednesday, June 25, 2008

30 Minutes AND It's Free: ISM 92-County Walk

During QUASH over the weekend, we had to go see the Steam Clock on the Canal Terrace at the Indiana State Museum, and on our way there, we passed a ton of cool sculptures embedded into the side of the building. Which made me remember the ISM's 92-County Walk.

You see, around the outside of the Indiana State Museum building, on the walls, the sidewalk, and a stair rail, are various sculptures -- 92 of them, to be exact (one for each county) -- depicting facets of Indiana life from agriculture to industry to literature to justice. (Anyone know what those four traits also represent? Bonus points for the first commenter...other than my brother post with the place in Indy where you'll find Agriculture, Industry, Literature, and Justice.)

Anyway. Here's the 30-minute rundown, again with minutes:seconds designated. It's slightly skewed, because I chose to park for a dollar at a meter at Ohio and West, rather than parking in the ISM's underground lot. (So sue me -- there was an Indians game starting and I didn't want to pay event parking fees!)

0:00 to 0:30 Walk inside the museum and ask for information on the 92-County Walk at the ticket counter. Receive a handy map which indicates which counties are where on the building's exterior.

0:30 Decide to start at #1 and work my way to #92.

0:30 to 0:45 Walk upstairs to ISM street level entrance, where #1 is.

0:45 Arrive at first sculpture. Not. At. All. Surprised to see that Scott is #1. (Haha.) But I am surprised to see that the counties are not in alphabetical order. Rather, they are in an order that I really could not figure out.

0:45 to 1:30 Hunt for Scott County sculpture and then read the plaque to discover its location (on the wall, over the rail, on the other side).

1:30 to 1:45 Try to figure out what a fish-looking sculpture has to do with Scott County's rich agricultural history.

1:45 Learn to accept it as a mystery of life, and move on.

1:45 to 30:00 Walk around the building and enjoy all 92 counties in "order" from Scott to Whitley. Because I spent all my time looking up, down and around, I really didn't keep track of my time the way I did at the IMA, so I'll just share some comments I texted myself as I was on the journey:

  • Oh. It's a waterfall.
  • Gypsum? What the hell is gypsum?
  • Bird's nest in Ernie Pyle's typewriter.
  • Tecumseh's brother The Prophet scares me in the Tippecanoe County one.
  • Boone County courthouse sits on the Second Prime Meridian. What is that? (Does this actually explain it?)
  • Delaware County's sculpture features Garfield (neither plus nor minus Garfield) in a Ball jar. This is hilarious to me, on many levels.
  • Couple walking past me sees me staring at a sign and then looking up at the building. She, to him: "Oh, it's not just signs along the building. There's also sculpture. Look at that!"
  • Dan Patch was from Benton County. I didn't really know what harness racing was, but I never did want to see some stuck-up jockey boy sittin' on Dan Patch. (Made my blood boil, well, I should say.)
  • The Great Big (1.5-ton, we learned in QUASH) Steam Clock still plays "Back Home Again In Indiana," even if it's, in the words of Randy Jackson, a little pitchy. Make sure you're at the Canal Terrace around the 15-minute mark so you (and your kids) can hear it.
  • The Franklin County sculpture is actually mounted under Blackford Street above the canal. Gotta look hard to find that one.
  • Parke County's covered bridges are as cool in the sculpture as they are in real life. (And you can take that either way, I suppose, although I mean it as a compliment.)
  • Owen County's glass waterfall is my favorite one. Very simple, yet with movement.
  • If you veer too far off the path, all of a sudden you're face-to-face with a mastodont's hind quarters, which is not a great place to be, let me tell you.
  • The Porter County dunes sculpture is pretty cool -- simple, elegant, beautiful. Much like Miss Indiana (formerly Miss Duneland) Katie Stam.
  • Around the corner into the final stretch, Madison County's sculpture includes some feathers made from taillights and turn signals. Which is much cooler than it sounds.
  • Posey County's sculpture is a large labyrinth on the ground, in the part of the Museum I've never even walked past. Seriously, the last 10 or 15 sculptures are in an area you wouldn't normally visit.
  • Union County's sculpture doesn't really hold a place in my memory. But the fact that it was named in honor of the spirit of national unity is pretty cool. (Also, did you know that the statue of Liberty at the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument faces south to keep an eye out for post-Civil-War Southern shenanigans?)
  • There's a beehive in the Pike County sculpture. Bee careful, honey. (Bwahaha!)
So, there it is. Not nearly as informative or time-oriented as my trip to the IMA post, but I definitely recommend you check this out. You can do it in 30 minutes, so it's good for lunch breaks and short attention spans. It's FREE, so it's good for penny-pinchers of all stripes. And there's tons of cool stuff to do nearby -- rent a Segway for a canal trip, have lunch on the terrace at the ISM or the Eiteljorg or the Government Center or the Indiana History Center, rent a paddleboat, see the Congressional Medal of Honor Memorial, etc.


Emily said...

I don't know the answer to your questions at the beginning of the post, but hoping for extra credit by knowing that the statue on top of the S&S monument is named Lady Victory. Which, in my opinion, sounds like a drag queen name, but whatever.

SSS said...

"Gentlemen and gentlemen,

Welcome to the stage Lady Victory and the Tragic Defeats!"

Or whatever. :) That's hilarious.

So I guess she's like a great big drag-queeny Screw You to the South. In bronze.


Anonymous said...

Indy's Federal Courthouse has those 4 icons on each side...Agriculture, Industry, Literature, and Justice.
And, by the way, you can go to and find all 92 icons and explanations as to the relevancy, etc....What is gypsum? A quartz-like mineral that has some warmth and flexibility and is often a compound in drywall. And, my fave is the canned Garfield, too, alongside the greenbeans!!

SSS said...

TOTALLY! Big props to mediakath for answering the question correctly. Ag, Ind, Lit, and Just(?) can be found at the US Courthouse in downtown Indy. (They were also a question on the QUASH Scavenger Hunt.)

And thanks for the reminder about (I've been using the old link, I, of course, linked heavily to the individual county pages on the Museum's site in my rundown. Many thanks for such a great site!

Kathi, do I understand that you work at the ISM now? What a cool job! Are there other free parts that I might turn into an upcoming "30 Minutes AND It's Free" feature?

K.T. and Trevor said...

Trevor and I went to the canal this morning for a bike ride. We also packed a lunch to enjoy outside the ISM when we were done. There are many blog readers out there doing the 92 county sculpture tour; we are sure that they are readers of your blog.

While Trevor and I didn't do the whole tour, our favorite so far is the toboggan going down the stair rail representing Steuben County's Pokagon State Park. This is where our family had held its annual family reunion for many years.

SSS said...

I *totally* agree that the toboggan down the stair rail is one of the best. Although I still like the waterfall one most of all.

I'm not surprised to hear that I'm such a trendsetter. :) Everybody wants to be like me -- the five people who come here intentionally each month AND the other 516 unique visitors each month who happen here by accident!

Sarah (The 7th grade science teacher) said...

Gypsum is used mainly to make sheet rock. Which makes it a pretty useful mineral. I kind of like having walls in my home.

Visually interesting cleavage as well.

SSS said...

Heh. "Cleavage."

Natalie said...

Gypsum is a liquid, with a wax like property, that is used to make or coat drywall. I believe it makes it resistant to mold. It will also knock your ass onto the floor of a big rig if the tank that is carrying it is not baffled. It is not my friend.