During Covid, I got into the habit of driving into the countryside of Indiana. It is a great way to see the many small towns that make up the state. As I am more of a city girl by nature, this has broadened my perspective. I first wrote about Covid changing my artistic perspective last Fall and have followed up with another email on Jonesboro, Indiana. Here is another edition to those emails/blogs.*
In early July, we found a little gem of a town called Farmland in eastern Indiana. Farmland was first developed in 1852. The general belief is that the name is based on rich planting soil. As I live in central Indiana, where the soil is full of clay, I’m envious!
Farmland became part of the Indianapolis and Bellfontaine Railroad Line, with a station built in 1852. The railroad has changed hands many times but is still in use as a freight line, owned by CSX Transportation.
The town thrived on agriculture, gas, and oil production, like many areas in north-central Indiana. Have never heard of gas and oil production in Indiana; then look up the history of Gas City, Indiana!
There was a significant fire in Farmland in 1897. According to Jordan Hammer of The Historic Farmland USA & Farmland Community Center, “No one was killed or knew how the fire was started. It destroyed a great deal of Farmland, causing $40,000 in damage. Once the fire began, the Muncie Fire Department was contacted.” Currently, by car, Muncie is roughly14 miles from Farmland. “The Fire Department said they would be there in 40 min, but they showed several hours later. When they did arrive with their water tanker, the water was empty because they forgot to put water in it!” Oh my goodness, someone must have felt foolish in 1897!
And yet the people of Farmland prevailed. The community built six major buildings within two years of the 1897 fire, which is impressive even by today’s standards.
Population-wise, the town is small and has been for most of its existence. In 1870, 532 souls lived in Farmland; the 2020 census shows 1270 people.
We came across Farmland at the end of a long day of antiquing in eastern Indiana. I spotted several lovely, older buildings on the main strip that I needed to photograph, so we stopped!
The Historic Farmland USA & Farmland Community Center was sponsoring an event in downtown Farmland, in which they cordoned off a side street. We caught the tail end of Jerry Fest, a day-long event honoring a longtime resident, historian, and musician of Farmland. There was a marvelous blue-grass band playing on a perfect summer evening.
What amazes me is to find these beautifully cared for historic buildings, especially in such a small community. Having seen a lot of small towns throughout the state of Indiana, it is a complete rarity to see a small, rural town that has been able to maintain its buildings with such care. This can’t be an inexpensive cause. I suspect it is the community spirit driving it.
Indiana is a state heavily driven by manufacturing. Sometimes we are referred to as part of the rustbelt due to all of the manufacturing in the state and, in some cases, its loss. I don’t know Farmland well, but I saw no apparent signs of a prominent manufacturer in or near the community. That leads me to assume that this gem of a town is maintained so well due to the people who live there.
Even in the case of an older home on the main strip that has been converted into apartments. It’s true; it might need a nail here and a hammer there, but it still has a worn beauty with its multi-color painted trim and beautiful decorative grasses and roses at the front door. The wind was gently blowing, rustling the grasses and roses, creating a beauty the camera couldn’t capture.
As each year passes, I find I appreciate these small gems like Farmland Indiana more and more.
** Currently not on my site, but if you are interested in purchasing a print of these photos, please email me.