Marion is the birthplace of actor James Dean and cartoonist Jim Davis. It was the wedding venue for actress Julia Roberts and singer Lyle Lovett in 1993. It was also in Marion that “Hog” became synonymous with Harley Davidson motorcycles, after the winner of the 1920 Cornfield Classic race carried a piglet on his return from victory. For information on Marion and Grant County, visit this museum at the historic Carnegie Library (190).
Built in the Beaux-Arts style, this building served as Marion's public library in 1991 and opened as a museum a few months after the library changed to a new building. When we compiled this list, the main exhibition was Made in Marion, which shows the days of the natural gas boom in the region, which drove incredible growth starting in the 1880s, especially in the glass industry. A public space that any city would be proud of, Matter Park is located a short distance from the Mississinewa River from downtown Marion. A product of Marion's boom days, this park grew at the turn of the century and even had a zoo that remained open until the 1970s.
After a period of decline, Matter Park has recovered over the past 20 years or so and has become the setting for a growing list of events in summer, such as Cruisin' in the Park in June and a 4th of july celebration with fireworks and a concert by the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra. Also worth mentioning are the 6.3 acres of landscaping that make up the Gardens of Matter Park. The gardens, an ideal setting for weddings, meetings and graduations, have more than 7,000 plants a year and feature the award-winning Butterfly Garden, which houses monarch butterflies. Two, Tom Shipp and Abe Smith, were lynched in the square, while a third, James Cameron (1914-2000), was saved by a woman who defended him.
Cameron later became an activist and founded three chapters of the NAACP, and was here in 1995 to help deal with an under-attended KKK demonstration. During the war of 1812, the Battle of Mississinewa was fought on the riverbank, seven miles north of present-day Marion. It was an expedition ordered in December 1812 by William Henry Harrison (1773-1884) against the Indian villages of Miami, in response to the attacks on Fort Harrison and Fort Wayne. In River Town you can visit more than 140 artisans, merchants and food suppliers, from gunsmiths to potters and master printers.
The most picturesque way to get to Matter Park from downtown Marion is by taking this 2.25-mile trail that begins at the Washington Street Bridge and ends in the north, at the Matter Park pond. Created in the 1980s, the Mississinewa waterfront has been designed for both physical activity and passive recreation, passing through a chain of public parks. All of them have facilities such as grills, shelters, play areas, as well as historic monuments such as the Mississinewa 1812 monument in Willis Van Devanter Park. The Riverwalk is a multi-purpose trail, with capacity for hikers, runners, cyclists and skaters.
The famous quilt designer and businesswoman Marie Webster (1859-1895) was born in Marion. The beautiful house, built in 1905, where she settled with her husband George and lived from 1909 to 1942, now houses the Quilters Hall of Fame. In the southeast of the city is the quiet resting place of more than 8,000 men and women, veterans of numerous wars over the past 160 years. What would become the Marion National Cemetery was established in 1889 following a request by Congressman and Civil War veteran George Washington Steele (1839-1892) for a soldier's home in Grant County.
One of Indiana's best family water parks is here in Marion. Open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, Marion Splash House is a mix of fun and relaxation, with all kinds of attractions and more than 30,000 square feet of terrace space. Movie lovers or fans of James Dean (1931-195) can follow in his footsteps in Grant County. Dean's birthplace is right in the center of Marion, on the site of the Seven Gables Apartment House.
At 723 W 4th Street there is a wonderful Colonial Renaissance house, built in 1912 for banker J. The track is half a mile long and on Saturdays there are several racing classes, including sedans, unlimited all-wheel drive and 6 unlimited speeds. Garfield's creator, Jim Davis, was born in Marion in 1945 and grew up just south of the city, in Fairmount, before attending college at Ball State in Muncie. As a way to honor Davis and his sarcastic cartoon cat, 14 fiberglass statues of Garfield have been erected in cities across Grant County, 6 of which are located in Marion, each with a specific theme for each location.
Also visit Fit for Life Garfield, standing at Matter Park Gardens, Duffer Garfield, at the headquarters of the Arbor Trace Golf Club, and Paws for Thought, on a pedestal in the Garfield Garden, at the Grant County Community Foundation. To continue with the James Dean theme, you can visit this magnificent museum founded in 1988 in an elegant Victorian house on Main Street. The Marion Power Shovel Company, formerly known as the Marion Steam Shovel Company, was historically one of the largest employers in the county, but in 2003, only three hundred people were working for this business. In 2000, Marion was the largest population center in Marion County, with a total population of thirty-eight thousand residents.