Travel,  United States

Conner Prairie – Fisher, Indiana

On our recent summer trip to Indiana, we went back in time to Conner Prairie. It is one of the largest attractions in the region and one of the most visited outdoor museums in the country. Conner Prairie is Indiana’s first Smithsonian affiliate. It is driven by a mission to inspire curiosity and foster learning. According to their website, Conner Prairie’s collections are focused on Midwest and Indiana material culture circa 1800 to the present, including domestic and agricultural objects, historic textiles, and science materials reflecting invention. They also have live animals that help visitors make connections with the natural world.

It all began in a cabin down by the White River in the early 1800s, where a man named William Conner lived in a log home with his Lenape Indian spouse, Mekinges, and their six children. To make a living, he bought furs from Indians who trapped animals in the forests of Indiana. But Conner’s life soon changed when he became an interpreter and liaison of the Treaty of St. Mary’s in 1818, in which Delaware ceded lands in central Indiana for that west of the Mississippi. The Lenape tribe, including William Conner’s wife and children, chose to leave Indiana with their fellow tribe members, but William Conner decided to stay. He eventually remarried Elizabeth Chapman and, in 1823, built a grand house on a hill overlooking a flood plain that came to be known as Conner Prairie.

William Conner and his wife Elizabeth had ten children, and he became a major landowner, statesman, and wealthy businessman. Many years passed after Mr. Conner’s death, and in 1934, Eli Lilly, then president of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Co, bought the 111-year-old structure.

As a person who believed in the importance of history, Lilly opened the house and surrounding land to the public so people could see their heritage brought to life. Today, Conner’s Prairie is a place of living history where the staff still dress, act, and speak as if they are currently living in the mid-1800s.

The 1859 balloon voyage ride is a wonderful treat. The balloon is one of only four tethered helium balloons in the whole country and is the only one in the world to put balloon flight into a historical context. Marty enjoyed a spectacular view from above. However, I did chicken out. I must admit I am a bit scared of heights, but there was no better day to take this ride, as we can see from our video. Conner Prairie is located in Fishers, Indiana. 

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