Moment of Indiana History

Daylight Saving Time

In Indiana, time itself has its own history. The state has always bucked the trend toward the standardization of time, Daylight Saving Time included.

There is no history without time, and in Indiana, time itself has its own considerable history. The state has always bucked the trend toward the standardization of time, a process initiated by the railroads in the 1880s. The Standard Time Act of 1918 divided up the country into four time zones, to be regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The act also called for the adoption of daylight saving time, a practice implemented in Europe during World War I to conserve lighting fuel. Upon the passage of the act, Indiana lay in the Central time zone. Daylight saving time was officially repealed nationwide in 1919, though a number of urban areas in Indiana continued to observe it. In the forties and fifties the state legislature repeatedly grappled with the issue of daylight saving time. Representatives from rural areas opposed the adoption of what they referred to as “fast time” as an unnatural measure, potentially unsettling for cows.

In 1961, the boundary separating the Eastern and Central time zones was shifted from Indiana’s eastern border to the middle of state. Within a decade, Indiana struck a compromise with the federal government that placed most of the state on Eastern Standard Time year-round. Five counties in the Chicago area and five near Evansville, however, would align themselves with the Central zone. Further complicating matters, Indiana was granted a dispensation allowing counties that so desired to observe daylight saving time. The ten counties in the north and southwest, along with a number of counties near Cincinnati, Ohio, and Louisville, Kentucky did so.

In the spring of 2005, a bill to adopt daylight saving time statewide was floated in the state legislature, on the grounds that synchronizing with the national time shift would be good for business. The passage of Senate Bill 127 mandates that all of Indiana join in the observance of daylight saving time starting April 2nd, 2006. Indiana will continue to be a patchwork quilt of time zones, however. In January 2006 the federal Department of Transportation decided to allow eight additional counties–out of 17 that made an appeal–to switch from Eastern to Central time.

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