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Saint Joseph County, IN
Saint Joseph County is located on the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River in northern Indiana. The river dips down into Indiana from Michigan, meandering through woods, wild fields, small towns and big cities. The communities that make up this county include Granger, Indian Village, Lakeville, Mishawaka, New Carlisle, North Liberty, Notre Dame, Osceola, Roseland, South Bend and Walkerton. The county’s population was recorded in the 2007 census as 266,088—92 percent urban and eight percent rural. According to the same report, the estimated median home value is $114,000.
The northern Indiana climate provides opportunities for all types of outdoor activities, from water skiing and hiking in the summer to tubing and cross-country skiing in the winter. Both nature and sports fans alike enjoy watching Olympic champions during national and international slalom whitewater races down the East Race Waterway.
In addition to this, there are plenty of indoor activities available as well, including a generous selection of shopping, dining and theatre venues. St. Joseph County is also home to more than eight different colleges, including the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University of South Bend, Saint Mary’s College and Bethel College.
In the mid-19th century, the area now known as St. Joseph County consisted of swampland and fertile planes. The local Indiana tribes that occupied the land were the Potowatomis, Ottowas and Chippewas. In 1820, French explorer Pierre Navarre settled at the south bend of the St. Joseph River and began a fur trade business. By 1830 287 residents called the river’s elbow their home and the area became officially known as St. Joseph County by Indiana Legislature. The people made their living from fur trading, lumbering, milling and farming.
The St. Joseph River, of course, served as the main form of transportation for traveling, exporting and importing. In 1831, the first ferry license was granted. However, once the first railroad was built in 1851, the necessity for river transportation dwindled.