Wabash River Heritage

Scene On The Wabash
George Winter

Stretching 475 miles long and draining 33,000 square miles between its source and its junction, the Wabash River has been a vital contributor to the development and prosperity to the midwest. The Wabash River banks were home to the Pottawatomies, Shawnee, and the Mound Builders as well as settlers. George Rodgers Clark followed this river as he scouted the territory. General William Henry Harrison also followed this river to meet the famous Indiana, Tecumseh, in the Battle of Tippecanoe. The Wabash River also carried flatboats full of produce all the way to New Orleans to market.



Fort Ouiatenon, Tippecanoe Co.

The Wabash River valley contains a wealth of evidence that the region contained Native American settlements and camps. In fact, the Wabash River was originally named, Wah-Bah-Shik-Ki, which means “pure white.” (Later, the river’s name was changed to Wabash by the English.) In the beginning, the Indians accepted the entrance of settlers to the region. In these instances, the Indians would trade furs, and other goods. Despite good relations, some Indian tribes did not accept the settlers and their push for more land. These revolts lead to the establishment of forts; for example, Fort Ouiatenon located outside West Lafayette in Tippecanoe county. Many bloody, historical battles took place between the Indians and militias.

Perrysville, Vermillion Co.

While touring the around the river consider using a GoPro Selfie Stick to capture great footage.

Wabash and Erie Canal

As settlers moved into the Wabash Valley region, they discovered the potential of resources of the landscape for development of production centers and significant industries. The Wabash River was the initial source for the establishment of trade. Cities like Logansport, Lafayette, Montezuma, Perrysville, and Terre Haute flourished in trade of agriculture products. As technology advanced and ideas of development grew, many cities saw opportunities with the birth of the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1826. By 1975, the Wabash and Erie Canal became obsolete due to lack of funds, malarial mosquitoes, dysentery, cholera, and other difficult working conditions. Remnants of the canal can still be found today.

Clinton Depot, Vermillion Co.

Many cities jumped at the next opportunity of development as railroads made their way across the nation. The purpose of the railroad was to provide transportation of goods to the waterways. The railroad eventually grew to become the most efficient way of moving material from market to market. This paved the way for large-scale surplus farming to occur throughout the region. Today, you can still find the depots for these trains.

The Wabash River is responsible for the Indiana county borders of: Warren, Fountain, Vermillion, Parke, Vigo, Sullivan, Knox, Gibson, and Posey. This web site contains historic information for the following counties:

Cass | Carroll | Tippecanoe | Warren | Fountain | Vermillion | Parke | Vig