The Hoosierist: Our Bounty Of Counties

The chopped-up Indiana map, basketball bragging rights, and commemorative quarters. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Why do we have 92 counties? Is it too much for our population?
A: It depends on the century. Back in the early 1800s, when Indiana’s political map was drawn, that many counties seemed about right. But now that our state’s administrative and economic centers aren’t county seats, but large metro areas, it’s less practical. While Indiana’s top 20 counties contain 65 percent of the state’s population, its bottom 20 (all in the boonies) hold just four percent. In all of Ohio County, there are just 6,000 people, roughly the enrollment of Carmel High School. So yes, in a perfect world, it would make sense to consolidate some spaces into larger entities. And since we’re spitballing, we could do the same thing with near-metro areas. Say, some sort of Unigov arrangement for the doughnut counties around Indy. But considering all the government jobs that would endanger, it’s about as likely as finding a Wi-Fi hotspot in Union County.

Q: Please settle an argument for my friend and me: Which Indiana college basketball team has the best overall record?
A: The Hoosierist, who has participated in numerous, intractable arguments about Indiana hoops, sincerely doubts that this information will “settle” anything. But hey, let’s give it a shot. If you measure basketball prowess by a team’s winning percentage since the days when the goal was a peach basket, then the University of Notre Dame reigns supreme, enjoying a lifetime average of .650 since its inaugural tipoff in 1898. Next comes Indiana University, with an average of .639; Purdue with .632; Butler with .584; Indiana State with .533 (thanks, Larry); and Ball State with .519. Unfortunately, none of those schools comes close to the NCAA’s winningest program of all time, an honor that belongs, probably thanks to some long-ago pact with Satan, to the University of Kentucky (.765).

Q: I have a roll of those Indiana commemorative quarters. Are they worth anything?
A: The Indiana quarter, issued in 2002 as part of the America the Beautiful collection, features a map of Indiana, a race car, and other tiny details The Hoosierist can’t make out because he has misplaced his reading glasses. More than 362 million were made, so most of them are good for the parking meter and little else. If the Mint made some sort of production mistake, however, it could be worth more than face value. If one of your coins looks dodgy, visit a numismatic site to investigate the ways the moneymaking process can go wrong, creating valuable errors. Or just drop it in the vending machine, get that sack of Doritos you’ve been thinking about since 10 a.m., and move on.


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