The Wabash River is an 810 km long river that flows southwest from northwestern Ohio and through northern Indiana to southern Illinois. The river forms the border between Illinois and Indiana, then empties into the Ohio River – which is its largest northern tributary. The Wabash River is considered Indiana’s most famous river, flowing through the entire state and providing drinking water to over 70% of Indiana’s counties.
Course of the Wabash River
The Wabash River is the longest river, located east of the Mississippi River, and ranks 49th among 135 U.S. rivers that are over 100 miles long. The river widens from 200 feet at Huntington to 400 feet at Covington. The Wabash River is 1,200 feet wide at its mouth, dividing the state from northeast to southwest and drawing 200 miles from Indiana’s border with Illinois before entering Ohio after a total route of 810 km. The depth of the river is about 30 feet in the lower 50 miles, with a depth of 5 feet above Huntington. The Wabash River drains an estimated area of 86,000 sq km, which covers approximately two-thirds of the 92 counties, as it flows more than 766.05 km west through Indiana passing through the towns of Huntington, Wabash , Logansport and Lafayette, then south to Terre Haut. Additionally, the river is joined by several creeks, which are topped primarily by the White and Tippecanoe rivers, as well as Little Wabash, Embarrass, and Vermilion. The Wabash River eventually empties into the Ohio River near the Lake Hovey Fish and Wildlife Area.
Wabash River Ecology
The climate where the Wabash River flows is classified as humid continental, with a lush environment, which makes the river home to around 120 endangered or unique plants and animals, many native species, such as osprey, bald eagle, white-headed bats, Indiana bats, as well as river otters and bobcats. These animals inhabit the Wabash River, along with more than 150 species of fish, such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, sauger, catfish, and paddlefish. On the other hand, unique wildlife experiences and unparalleled views can be found along the Wabash River, home to a variety of rare and common native plants, including young blue flag iris, black-eyed susan, flower cardinal, young purple coneflower and many others. .
History of the Wabash River
The area was initially inhabited by indigenous peoples who populated the vicinity of the Wabash, establishing numerous villages along its length. French explorers were the first settlers to arrive in the region through their missionaries and fur traders, and the Wabash was used as an important trade route linking the lower Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Later, the colonies of France and England tried to take control of the Wabash, which ultimately resulted in the scene of the British being defeated by George Rogers Clark and eliminated from the Northwest Territories. Then, in 1811, Governor William Henry Harrison and his army conquered the Tecumseh Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe near Lafayette. Additionally, the Wabash contributed to Indiana’s growth, serving as a vital transportation link. Where the Wabash-Erie Canal – the longest canal in America – was built along the river when it was not reliable enough to serve its purpose, in addition to contributing to the reason for the variety of ethnic groups who came to work on the canal and then stayed to live in the valley, where canal towns began to develop, along with production industries alongside the main vocation of transport.
Points of interest along the Wabash River
Wabash Heritage Trail
The Wabash Heritage Trail is an 18-mile scenic trail along Burnett Creek and the Wabash River. The north trail begins at Tippecanoe Battlefield and follows Burnett Creek to the Wabash River. It crosses the towns of Lafayette and West Lafayette and ends at Fort Ouiatenon. No horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles are allowed on the path in the rural areas of the trail. However, bicycles are permitted on the paved trail, where visitors can cycle five and a half miles in Lafayette and West Lafayette, while camping is not permitted anywhere along the trail.
Named after the Wea tribes of the area, the French built the park in the 1700s as a fur trading post. Currently, the park is used for recreational purposes and includes picnic facilities in addition to hosting the annual Hunter Moon Festival each fall.
Moreover, the river offers many water activities like swimming, rafting and kayaking, as well as fishing activities due to its variety of fish. In addition, the river flows between a list of other public parks, topped by Tapawingo Public Park, where public events and festivals are held regularly by the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation, which brings together residents, experts and governments to improve water quality and expand public access and leverage the Wabash River’s ability to provide an enormous opportunity for active recreation, attractive beauty and sustainable economic development.