Columbus, Indiana Travel Guide

Columbus, Indiana is a place you will find the unexpected and the unforgettable. It’s a small town with a big-city attitude. There’s a lot to see and do here, from the arts to sports to stunning gardens and parks to the city’s national treasure. There are over 60 buildings and landscapes designed by some of the most noted and influential architects of the 20th century.

There are six national historic landmarks of modern architecture here, three churches, a private home, a public school, and a bank – all true American treasures of art. The city’s internationally celebrated architecture also includes post modern and contemporary design spanning decades of growth in Columbus where the goal in architecture is excellence. Columbus won the America in Bloom award in 2006, for its well designed and maintained gardens, parks, and green spaces, including 638 acres that make up 18 city parks.

Columbus boasts a large installation of exciting public art, spread throughout town these works inspire the imagination and create a unique and energetic cityscape. This is also home to international business of fortune 500 world headquarters and three higher education institutions. There’s a diverse population here with a strong economy and a skilled workforce. Located near several large metropolitan cities, Columbus sits at the crossroads of national transportation. The story of how this city came to be home to a national treasure of modern and contemporary architecture reveals the power of this community’s desire for excellence. The desire that has shaped a vibrant inspirational can-do culture.

In the early 1940s, a radically new kind of architecture came to this city. A local congregation was building a new church and wanted a contemporary design instead of a traditional one. They offered the project to architect Eliel Saarinen, a recent immigrant from Finland. Saarinen initially declined the job in Columbus until one of the parishioners J Irwin Miller asked for a chance to talk to him.

Miller won over Saarinen with his argument that the congregation was seeking an architect who could find the right expression for their desire to live a rich inner life and a simple outer life. The First Christian Church completed in 1942 was the first contemporary building in Columbus and one of the first modern churches anywhere in America. It is the oldest of the six national historic landmarks in the city and it’s one of the most beloved buildings in Columbus.

In the 1950s, the population of Columbus was expanding with the post-war boom. The city needed new schools, again J Irwin Miller stepped in, and he encouraged the city to find modern architects to design the schools. Exciting city architecture he thought would help Columbus be seen as a forward-thinking community, one that would attract businesses and top-level managers looking for opportunity. And hiring architects with ideas that required new construction methods and materials would help the city reach its goal to build with quality. To finance the schools and afford the architects fees, Miller proposed the creation of a public-private partnership for the first new school – the Lillian C Schmidt elementary.

His plan was this, his company’s foundation the Cummins Engine Foundation would donate the design fees if the school board would agree to choose an architect from a list prepared by the foundation. Costs for construction would come from the school corporation and the school board would supervise the projects. After the first school was successfully built through that partnership, the school board asked if the Cummins engine foundation would contribute the design fees for other schools. They did and what came to be known as the architecture program was born. With that program in place, modern and contemporary architects saw Columbus as a city that welcomed their bold ideas.

Nordic Combined Skiing vs. Cross-Country Skiing – Which one is for you?

Cross-country skiers live longer.” This popular German saying draws attention to the value many people see in the winter sport of cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Indeed, in many lands where winter snow abounds, the winter countryside is often crisscrossed by a grid work of ski trails. In some lands, distances between towns and villages are often posted, and many trails even have artificial lighting so that skiers can use them to commute between home and work. Isn’t that cool?

Practiced by relatively few before the 1960’s, cross-country skiing has in recent years become popular in many places throughout the world. Some estimate that as many as five million people a year enjoy the sport in North America alone! What is the secret of its appeal and charm? Its low cost and apparent simplicity. Compared with its better-known cousin—Alpine, or downhill, skiing—some aspects of cross-country skiing are uncomplicated.

The downhill skier needs specialized, costly equipment and clothing. He has to travel to specially maintained ski hills or mountains where he may be confronted with both the purchase of expensive lift tickets and long lines for the ski lift. Downhill skiing and ski jumping also demands a certain athleticism that may be beyond the grasp of many beginners. However, don’t despair not everyone will go on to become a professional in the sport. If you do practice though, ski jumping can be extremely invigorating and very thrilling. Cross-country skiing, on the other hand, can be enjoyed by virtually anyone at any age. The only things needed are a few inches of fresh snow, a little training, and relatively inexpensive skis, ski boots, and ski poles.

Whichever one you choose both cross-country skiing and ski jumping can be an exhilarating experience! The skier can go virtually wherever he wishes—through fields and meadows, over frozen lakes and icebound streams, into silent forests and snow-covered valleys. Cross-country skiing can lend itself to meditation, reflection, and thought, which can give us a chance to improve ourselves and become more grounded.

Winter puts a unique stamp on the forest. A glistening blanket of snow brings a hush to the landscape. The earth seems fresh and clean, as if awaiting discovery. Gliding through a forest, the trees laden with frost, is soothing to the heart and mind. The stridency of our mechanical world fades away, and soon the only sound is the whooshing of skis.

Physical Benefits

Nordic combined skiing is considered to be one of the safest of the popular sports. Although falling can result in minor sprains, serious injuries are rare, and they usually occur only when the cross-country skier ventures into steep terrain and back country.

Because the movements involved in cross-country skiing and Nordic combined skiing are so fluid and rhythmic, there is very little overuse of or shock damage to joints and muscles. Sports doctors will often prescribe cross-country skiing as therapy for those injured by jogging or cycling. It is one of the few activities that uses almost all the body’s major muscle groups, so the skier receives a complete workout. The heart and lungs benefit greatly, and active skiers usually have blood pressure and pulse rates lower than those of inactive people. Cross-country skiers and Nordic combined skiers are thus regarded as some of the fittest athletes in the world.

The combination of low risk of injury with smooth, dynamic movement also makes cross-country skiing an ideal endeavor for older ones. In some northern European countries, it is very common to see individuals in their senior years out for a ski.

Skiing generates a tremendous amount of body heat, so it is possible to be quite comfortable in relatively cold conditions. On the coldest of days, ski racers routinely compete in thin, one-piece racing outfits, often without gloves. Nonprofessionals, however, must take adequate care to protect their extremities from the cold. Experienced outdoor enthusiasts generally dress in layers, starting with a woolen or synthetic under layer and finishing with a waterproof and windproof outer shell. This enables them to regulate their body temperature and personal comfort. They just remove or add layers as needed. Wise parents do well to make sure that their little ones are properly attired, as children’s small bodies get cold much quicker than adults. Since children lose heat from their skin very rapidly, they are more susceptible to frostbite.

As you can see there are so many different benefits to skiing and it’s certainly a sport you want to try if you haven’t done so already!

Other fascinating facts

Do you know who the first ever recorded ski jumper actually was? It’s none other than Olaf Rye who was born on November 16, 1791. Olaf was a celebrated Norwegian and Danish major-general military officer. He is well known for influencing the Battle of Fredericia in 1849 which ended the persecution in the town of Denmark. He ended up dying during the battle and will always be recognized by the Danish as a war hero. Olaf was not only a war champion but also had another talent up his sleeve and that was ski jumping. He claimed the initial credit on being the first ever recorded ski jumper jumping 31 feet through the air in display of his fellow soldiers.

Also, another interesting fact is that Nordics have dominated this sport since its beginning. But this is not really that surprising since it’s been in there history for such a long time. Since the very first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix in 1924 Nordic combined individuals have been highlighted in every single game. Truly this sport has been prevailed over by the Finns and Norwegians. There was a turn of events though in 1960 when Georg Toma from Germany took home the gold medal at Squaw Valley Winter Olympics.

Why not add cross-country skiing to your winter experience! “If you can walk, you can ski” is a common catchphrase among cross-country skiers because the movements of the sport are so closely related to walking. While this statement is true to some degree, most of us would benefit immensely from an hour or two spent with a qualified teacher. Ski centers offer private or group lessons, and in a short while, the novice can learn the fundamentals of skiing cross-country—cruising the flats, skiing uphill, negotiating downhill’s and, of course, maybe a jump or two! Once shown these basic skills, most people are equipped to go out and tackle the terrain.

“Nothing hardens the muscles and makes the body so strong and elastic,” said Fridtjof Nansen in 1890 regarding cross-country skiing. Perhaps you too would enjoy the sport. It could very well add excitement to your winter experience or you could go watch some professionals in the Nordic combined skiing sport. It truly is fascinating to either watch or take part in.

More on the Origins

Skiing was such an integral and fundamental part of the Norwegians way of life that they even worshiped and honored a ski god and goddess! Today many towns and villages in Norway and Sweden carry the remnants of those bygone pagan beliefs in their names. Why, the very name Scandinavia may refer to the goddess of skiers, Skade.

While skiing has been a necessary part of Nordic life for centuries, the popularizing of Nordic combined skiing as an international sport had to wait until the 19th century. At that time Norwegians improved the traditional skis by shaping, tapering, and refining them. They also developed a system of heel straps and toe straps that were the forerunners of modern binding systems. In Telemark, a mountainous area of south-central Norway, they soon initiated a series of competitions. The first recorded and timed cross-country ski race is believed to have been held there, with the winner covering the three-mile course in about 30 minutes. Cross-country ski racing and ski jumping became popular in northern European countries soon thereafter, but it was another event that introduced it to the rest of the world.

In 1888 the Norwegian explorer and scientist Fridtjof Nansen led an expedition across Greenland on skis. Fridtjof was an amazing and talented explorer that led many fascinating expeditions. He subsequently wrote a book about his experience that in 1891 was translated into English, French, and German. The account, which described his grueling journey across the stark Arctic landscape, captured the imagination of its Victorian readers. It stirred romantic notions of conquering the untamed wilderness. His tale enthralled and fascinated many and caused an increase in interest in the sport.

In the 1960’s, family ski touring was organized and launched on a major scale. Ski centers that specialized in cross-country skiing began to spring up. Manufacturers took note, and new, sophisticated equipment appeared. Fashion even entered the picture, making cross-country skiing chic. The demand by the public for areas in which to ski saw many municipalities scrambling to groom any available land, including golf courses and city parks.

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Norwegian Beginnings

Imagine a rough mountainous countryside on a cold winter’s day and a rugged Norwegian Viking on skis hauling his collected wood for his fire. Some people may believe that cross-country skiing or Nordic combined skiing is a current innovation, but it is far from new. Yes, the modern skies we use today actually originated from Norway and there are ancient rock drawings to back this up. In fact, archeologists discovered an old rock painting dating back to 4000 BC showing a man on skis with a stick in his hand.

In 1927, rock carvings thousands of years old were discovered on the Norwegian island of Rødøya. One drawing displays a hunter who is obviously wearing a rabbit mask. He appears to be gliding on a pair of very long skis. They have also uncovered, in the peat bogs of Scandinavia, hundreds of ancient skis in excellent condition.

The word ski even comes from Norwegian origins and stands for “skid.” In Old Norse wording, it means stick of wood or cracked and split piece of wood.

It’s certainly true that skiing was an essential form of travel for early Nordic peoples during the long, snowy, cold winters. Skis were mainly used in these ancient times for simply ease of traveling and purely functional reasons. It wasn’t until the mid 1800s that skis starting becoming used for sport. The first ever documented skiing training and competition was for military purposes. They practiced the sport doing downhill races on difficult terrain and doing target practice wearing a weighted backpack.

I feel the Holmenkollen Ski Festival is also important to mention in Nordic combined skiing history as it was a very famous event that started in up 1892. It quickly gained popularity and starting drawing in skiers from close surrounding countries. In the 1920s King Olav V of Norway even participated in the event! Holmenkollen is the name of the huge jumping hill situated in Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway. Fittingly named I would say.

The opening large-scale competition was in 1892 in Oslo which then transitioned into the 1924 Winter Olympics and has been in the plans ever since.