Wabash River

Published: 2019-07-18 06:47:33
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The most popular and widely known river in the state of Indiana is the Wabash River. The river is believed to be 503-mile-long that has its fountain near Fort Recovery, it flows southwest from the northwest of the state of Ohio through northern Indiana and to the south of Illinois where it pours into the Ohio River. At the point of joining Ohio River, it forms a tributary perhaps the largest in the north of United States of America. The name of the river originally was Wah-Bah Shik-ki, a name purported to be accorded to it by the Miami native Indians which translates to water over white stones (Wabashriver.us, 2015). The Miami native Indians named the river so because of its crystal clear riverbanks of limestone in the upper stretches. When the French came along, they called the river Ouabache. The Britons during their settlement in Indiana Anglicized, the name to Wabash, the name of the river, has thus been retained as Wabash River. Geographers have claimed that the river was created at the end of the last Ice Age between 14000 and 15000 years ago. In America, the Wabash River has been an arena of events of epoch proportions. The river was a main route of transportation for the native Indians, the explorers, steamboats and canal flat boats. During the age of steamboats, the boats traveled through the river carrying the explorers, traders, and Native Indians (Wabashriver.net, 2015).

In the history of America, many historical events have occurred along the banks of Wabash River. The people who settled along the river have engaged in trade and fought battles that have shaped the history of the United States of America. The river was a primary segment of the French trade path which was connecting French colonies in Canada, Montreal, and Quebec, with their sister colony in the United States of America, found in New Orleans and Vincennes south of Indiana. During the 18th century, the river was the interstate highway of the period and was at the centerpiece of the British and French conflict to take control of North America to secure its immense economic potential benefits. The River also witnessed plenty of bloodshed in the battle that ensued between the native Indians vehemently resisting the invasion by the white men who were forcibly taking their lands and subjecting them to forced labor.

It is the battle fought along the banks of Wabash River that culminated into a string of events that led to the formation of the state of Indiana in 1816. The incessant conflict in the region and river trading route, especially among the native Indian Americans settled on the riverside, the British and the newly founded nation, the United States of America, was an imperative historical occurrence. In 1810, Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian leader, and his brother known as the Prophet founded Native American forces to oppose against the loss of land arbitrary to the United States of America. The last significant battle was fought in the present day Battleground town just adjacent to the Wabash riverside. The United States forces were led by William Henry Harrison, who valiantly fought the Tecumsehs Native American forces. Tecumsehs Native American forces woefully lost the battle and these smoothed the way for increased settlement by along the banks of the United States and this signified the definitive defeat of the Tecumsehs Native American forces in the Indian Territory (Google Books, 2015). The events culminated in the formation of Indiana State, and the Battleground has now been demarcated as National Park Service Memorial.

Another major historical event in along the banks of Wabash River is the infamous Battle of the Wabash which pronounced the worst defeat to be extended to United States forces by inexperienced Native Indians with crude weapons. The Battle of the Wabash, historians also refer to it as the St. Clairs Defeat, epitomizes the worst ever battle disaster to be experienced by the army of the United States of America under the hands of Native Americans. The battle occurred on the 4th of November 1791 and was among the first real test to the unseasoned army of the newly founded republic of the United States of America. The U.S at the time was experiencing untoward resistance to its authority by in a number of its territories; present-day Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, Indian tribes were violently attacking American settlers and government administrators in collaboration with British agents. An expedition led by Major General Arthur St. Clair was dispatched by the order of President George Washington; the regiment included 1400 men (Dame, 2014). The expedition was one weakened with the lack of enough supplies and shrouded in utter unpreparedness for war. In the wee hours of November 4th, Little Turtle led his forces of Native American forces to attack the St. Clairs forces across the Wabash River. The battle ensued for four hours, and in that time among the 1400 men more than half were either dead or wounded. In 1994, a regiment led by Major General Anthony Mad Anthony Wayne was selected to accomplish what Major General Arthur St. Clair failed to accomplish. In the battle of Fallen Timbers, Major General Anthony Mad Anthony Wayne distinguishingly and professionally defeated the Indian tribes (Dame, 2014).

Wabash River since time immemorial has proved to a significant strategic location for human exploitation. However, as settlement increased, industries mushroomed, and population increased around the river the Wabash River began to be affected negatively by the human undertakings. These human activities have diminished the value of the river environment due to the rapidly increasing human population along the river banks that have cleared the natural vegetation along the riverside and converted the ground to plant agricultural produce. This led to constructions of canals which offered the requisite navigable waters. These canals were eventually abandoned, but they had inflicted critical and extensive ecological harm to the aquatic systems and life of Wabash River. Moreover, a rapid increase in the human population and industrial undertakings eventually resulted in flagrant organic pollution of the river that gradually led to many human health effects that adversely affected them. These activities have caused a reduction in the number of species of fish found in the Wabash River this can be attributed to the increased siltation occurring due to soil erosion coupled with the effect of city sewage system, drainage from coal mine, paper mill wastes, waste from the cannery and the wastes from the dairy products factories ending up in the river (Armyhistory.org, 2015). The Federal Clean Water Act has classified the Wabash River waterway as impaired due to the large amounts of phosphorus and nitrogenous elements runoffs from adjacent farm fields. Often human and animal feces end up in the river a situation that has rendered the Wabash River to be classified as impaired due to the excessive levels of the bacteria E. coli.

2004 saw the establishment of Wabash River Enhancement Corporation to improve the quality of the river environment. The project was funded by North Central Health Service (NCHS) where the river flows, and its main objective was to formulate future planning, land acquisition programs and development projects that ensure the quality of the river is improved. The farmers who have agricultural farm fields adjacent to the river bank are encouraged to install water-control instruments to hold back phosphorous and nitrogen rich water in the drainage system, this elongates the path taken by the water to reach the river and thus aiding in the filtering of more nutrients (Dame, 2014). Farmers are discouraged from top dressing phosphorous based fertilizer and encouraged to put it directly into the soil to reduce nutrient flowing into the river. Reservoirs have been constructed to reduce the occurrence of downstream flooding, but they have been also exploited to provide recreational facilities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. There has been a remarked reduction in the loading of organic waste into the river due to improved waste management on the riverside. Positive social and health improvements have occurred due to intensive efforts to treat industrial in human waste mitigating their adverse health effects. These improvements if encouraged and broadened along the stretch of the river the pollution levels of the river will be remarkably reduced and aquatic life will no longer be in danger.


Armyhistory.org,. (2015). The Battle of the Wabash: The Forgotten Disaster of the Indian Wars | The Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from https://armyhistory.org/the-battle-of-the-wabash-the-forgotten-disaster-of-the-indian-wars/

Dame, M. (2014). Work ongoing to improve water quality in the Wabash River // Environmental Change Initiative // University of Notre Dame. Environmental Change Initiative. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from http://environmentalchange.nd.edu/news/52785-work-ongoing-to-improve-water-quality-in-the-wabash-river/

Google Books,. (2015). The Wabash River Ecosystem. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=pz_pfD-TUlsC&pg=PA231&lpg=PA231&dq=how+are+humans+polluting+wabash+river&source=bl&ots=4X2vJK36vg&sig=9uKqoQlD1QWJVs3DIunLvwc5jR4&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=how%20are%20humans%20polluting%20wabash%20river&f=false

Wabashriver.net,. (2015). Wabash River Enhancement Corporation - About Our Area. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from http://www.wabashriver.net/about-our-area/

Wabashriver.us,. (2015). WabashRiver.us - History. Retrieved 7 December 2015, from http://wabashriver.us/history/index.htm


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