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Behind the Journeys

BarbDIBarb Dirks, director of collections digital resources, is the main person behind the content for Destination Indiana. She pored over research and images for the 188 virtual journeys in the interactive experience and was involved with the process from its conception to the first editing stages to the final review.

What was your most interesting find?

This is a tough question, but I’d say it was reading about the history of travel on the Ohio River. I read early travel logs – from the early 1800s – and got a sense of the adventure people felt when traveling on the river to this territory and the danger involved, especially on the boats themselves. Boiler explosions were common – with complete loss of the boat. I was surprised to find British author Charles Dickens’ comment on being advised to request a cabin at the rear of the steamboat as it was safer to be there in case the boiler exploded. If I were given that advice, I don’t know that I’d book the trip. But he was here to see the country and probably had that sense of adventure.

Do you have a favorite journey?

I enjoyed the discovery of fun facts and small stories within the history of the counties – that John Dillinger robbed a bank in this little town or that a covered bridge in a county is supposedly haunted. I enjoy looking at pictures of Main streets with businesses lined-up along a dirt road and Model Ts and horses and wagons parked along the sidewalks. Sometimes if you zoom in on a picture, you can see the interior of a store. The panoramic images in some of the journeys are great fun to zoom in on. You see the fashions, hairstyles, people’s expressions. I wonder if they could have imagined that the picture would be presented on large screens for the public to see in 2010? Did they ever even think about the year 2010? 

What do you hope visitors will take away from Destination Indiana?

Over the past two years, I’ve sometimes thought of this project as dealing with a family reunion. We have 92 family members – the counties – coming together here. In some ways we are very much alike and in others very different. We tend to know the relatives who live close by, but not so much those living further away. We’re all part of the same family; we are Indiana. 

Destination Indiana is presented by American Red Ball Transit Co. Inc.