No other place in Indiana offers the variety of scenery and recreational activities than Wabash County. Forested landscapes, historic rivers, waterways and reservoirs await thrill seekers, explorers, hikers, campers and fisherman. The Wabash River, Eel River, Mississinewa River, Salamonie and Mississinewa Reservoirs inspire many thousands of visitors annually to experience undisturbed natural beauty and wildlife. Years of intensive land management has served to protect the quality of the waters, vegetation and geological formations further adding to the beauty of Wabash County.
Nature and history come together all over the county in protected State parks, nature reserves, covered bridges, rivers and streams.
The storied Wabash River, unpredictable and rich in history, was a major transportation route for Native Indians, explorer’s and canal boats. Early French explorers named it Quabache which lead to the current name of Wabash. Native Miami Indians would later name it Wah-Bah-Shik-Ka, meaning “water over white stones” due to the clear waters which made the limestone riverbed mostly visible.
The Eel River, located in northern Wabash County is a tributary of the Wabash River. The Stockdale Mill, built by pioneers in 1857, as a water powered flour mill is located on the river in Roann, Indiana. It is amazingly restored, operational and operates as a small museum as well. Upstream, the Roann Covered Bridge is further evidence that this northern Wabash County waterway provides unique resources and recreational activities including, sightseeing, canoeing, fishing and hiking.
The Mississinewa River at the very southern tip of Wabash County is one of the principle tributaries of the Wabash River. It is scenic and rich in history. Native Miami Indians named the river which means falling waters. The Miami Indians tribes considered themselves superior Indians. They were regarded as excellent warriors and hunters. The Miami’s at Mississinewa fought hard for their beloved lands against aggressors.
The Indiana Division of State Parks and Reservoirs manages the thousands of acres of historically significant property. The many thousands of acres encompassing the Mississinewa area provide historians and nature lovers alike a view of raw natural beauty. The lands, once inhabited by proud Native Americans is preserved, protected, loved and visited by thousands who seek a connection to the past as well as for recreational purposes.
The Mississinewa Reservoir and lake is one of two flood control reservoirs in Wabash County. With part of 14,386 acres and a 3,210 acre lake partially in Wabash County, it offers an abundance of fishing, hunting, beaches, boating and seasonal camping opportunities. Huge expanses of prairies, forest and farmland makes for a natural wildlife habitat that draws birdwatchers to view eagles as well as a wide variety of wildlife.
Mountain bike trails, horseback trails and hiking paths inspire and motivate visitors to explore the natural beauty where Native Americans once lived and hunted. Relics and artifacts, tools, weapons and remnants found in this area document the history of occupation and a cultural past.
Mississinewa comes alive in September with an annual event, the “Mighty Triathlon”. Where Natives once raised gardens, hunted and fished; adults swim, bike and ride. Kids run.
The Mississinewa Battlefield, adjoining Wabash County at its most Southern point, comes alive in October each year featuring exciting living history. The event is the largest living history event in the United States. The 1812 Battle of Mississinewa is reenacted here; it’s historically accurate and is authentic in its presentation. Many thousands from all of the country travel here to attend this yearly event that has become a commemoration of the war between the United States and Native American Indians. Visitors to this forested wilderness, as it existed in 1812 will be amazed by actors as soldiers, storytelling, demonstrations, music and food.
Salamonie Lake Dam in the eastern most part of Wabash County impounds the Salamonie River. Built in 1966 by the Army Corps of Engineers for flood water control it is operated by the Corps and Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The Salamonie Lake and adjoining areas encompass 12,000 acres of land and water. The Department of Natural Resources also operates several properties on the lake including the Salamonie River State Forest, Lost Bridge West State Recreation Area, Lost Bridge East, Dora-New Holland, Mount Etna and Mount Hope Recreational Areas. The Lake has 2,655 acres of water during summer months and is a popular fishing area for white crappie, white bass walleye and channel catfish.
Rain or Shine, any time of the year, recreational activities offered at Salamonie are available to the many thousands that visit the area each year. Biking, hiking trails, bridle trails and walking paths are groomed and maintained for enjoyment and relaxation. Trails are open throughout the year. Adventure and challenge await any enthusiast with different skill levels to enjoy.
Boating, launch ramps and Marina availability encourages water skiing, canoeing, and kayaking. Fishing piers, swimming, picnicking and a shelter house make for family fun days, reunions and celebratory events.
Interpretative centers staffed by Indiana’s Division of State Parks and Reservoirs associates offer family and group programming. Visitors to the interpretive center are introduced to the properties natural uniqueness, wildlife and cultural resources.
The Salamonie site tells many stories. Once home to glaciers and tundra, forest and farmland, altering this sites natural beauty towards flood control and preservation has insured areas downstream are protected for current and future generations. The story of succession is an important theme in managing waterways. Utilizing multiple use principles and preservation has created wonderful recreational use parks and lakes.
A visit to Wabash County will inspire you to get outside. Being out in nature is good for your mind and soul. Its restorative, relaxing and makes one healthier and happier. Hearing the wind blow through trees, walking in a trickling stream and watching sunsets over a forested hillside makes you feel energized and alive.
Get outside, find your bliss
By Sam Frazier