Mississinewa River in Indiana

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The verbiage below was supplied by Indiana DNR's Canoe Guide. The information was last updated at least 16 years ago. Put-in points have disappeared and new ones have formed.

It is very important that you submit any trip reports that you have and include what the put-in and take out points look like. With your help we can build a new and improved Indiana Canoe Guide. We will revise the information below as new information presents itself.


If you have a favorite river, chances are that you know it best. You can adopt a river for this site, then write about it and describe the put-in points. You will get full credit and you will be doing ALL Hoosiers a big favor.

The Mississinewa River originates in Ohio before taking a 100-mile journey west and north to the Wabash River near Peru in Miami County, Indiana. Its drainage area occupies an area of about sixty square miles.

The river flows through a low, flat, wide valley and its water is shallow at normal stage and comparatively clear, except during prolonged heavy rain. Falling 3.3 feet to the mile, the Mississinewa is one of the swiftest streams in Indiana. The village of Chief Shepoconah once stood along the Mississinewa. His wife was Frances Slocum, who was captured from her Pennsylvania Quaker family in 1778 when she was just five years of age. Over fifty years later she was finally found and her family urged her to return to civilization. She decided to remain among "her people" and was buried in 1847.

The river was named by the Miami Indians who called it "falling water". Many bloody battles were fought between the Americans and Miamis along the Mississinewa River before the Indians were finally subdued.

Today, a 12,000 acre reservoir covers much of this historical area. It was built to control flooding and to provide recreation in the form of boating, fishing, camping and picnicking and is operated by the Department of Natural Resources.

The river has carved some unique geological features in the limestone, the most notable being the "Seven Pillars" which is about two miles below the Mississinewa Reservoir and not within the section covered in this guide.

Phill Zimmerman submitted the following information regarding the river upstream of the sections we have described:
Ridgeville to Hwy 1: We did this trip last year on the Mississinewa River and there are about 5 large log jams that must be portaged. I sent an e-mail to the DNR about it and they said that it is up to the land owners to fix this. We have been from Albany to Eaton this year and it is a good trip. There is one log jam just after the HWY 67 bridge, but we went under it, jut before it is a nice drop too.

State Road 67 & 28 to Matthews

The first canoeable section is a long 19.1-mile stretch. The river is slow-moving and shallow with a rock bottom between low to moderate banks.

The corridor of the river is predominately lined with sycamore and cottonwood trees. There are several species of wildlife that inhabit the river basin such as wood ducks, blue and green herons, a few hawks and owls.

Fishing is fair in the deeper holes along the stream and sunfish, smallmouth bass, rock bass and catfish comprise the majority of the catches.

Doctor assistance is available in Eaton, Indiana. The closest hospital is the Blackford County Hospital, Hartford City.

Put-in is located at the State Road 28 & 67 bridge approximately five miles west of Albany. Parking and put-in facilities are on the southwest side of the bridge. The site consists of a cement drainage ditch and parking for two cars along the roadside.

The car shuttle should take State Road 28 west approximately 6 1/2 miles to Wheeling Pike, turning right. Follow Wheeling Pike northeast through Stockport and Wheeling to Matthews, Indiana. In Matthews turn right on State Road 221 and proceed through town to the bridge over the Mississinewa River.

Along the trip the muddy water hides some dangerous rocks. About four hours from the put-in is a flood gate that requires a portage on the left side. Further downstream near Matthews, about seven hours floating time from the put-in, a dam must be portaged; the right side is best. The take-out is at the southwest corner of the State Road 221 bridge at a boat ramp providing easy exit.

Matthews to Gas City

The 11 mile float between Matthews and Gas City takes approximately four hours. Beyond the tree-lined banks lies some of Indiana's best agricultural land.

Doctor's assistance is available in Upland, Indiana and the closest hospital is the Blackford County Hospital in Hartford City, Indiana.

The put-in site is at the bridge on State Road 221 approximately seven miles south of Upland. This fishing site has a natural boat ramp that provides easy access.

For the car shuttle take State Road 221 north through Upland and turn west on State Road 22. Take State Road 22 to Seventh Street in Gas City, then go south on 7th Street to South H Street. Turn west on South H Street and drive for approximately seven blocks to Gas City Park.

The take-out at Gas City Park is equipped with a small boat launch, picnic area, playground and restroom facilities.

Gas City to Mississinewa Reservoir

The 15 mile float between Gas City and the Mississinewa Reservoir is 7 1/2 hours long and very sluggish and muddy. It flows through an industrial area into sparsely developed land but further downstream the water flow increases and the area becomes more scenic.

Doctor's assistance can be received in Gas City or Marion, and the closest hospital is in Marion.

Put-in is on South H Street in Gas City Park. The access is equipped with a small boat ramp, picnic area, playground and restroom facilities.

Leaving Gas City Park the car shuttle moves north on State Road 15. North of Marion proceed across the river to 500 N and turn left; drive three miles to the bridge near Jalapa.

Charles Mill and Matter Parks, located in Marion along the river, are available for picnicking. A dam in Charles Mill Park requires a short, easy portage. Take-out is at the 500 N bridge, which is steep and can be dangerous when wet.


Mississinewa River,
Dam south to the Wabash River confluence (entry point for this segment is not mapped on the site)

I have canoed this trip more than a dozen times. You can put in right at the Mississinewa Reservoir Spillway at the little town of Peoria, where there are a couple of convenience stores for supplies and bait. There are ramps on the other side of the river maintained by the DNR Mississinewa State Recreation Area, as well as public restrooms. It is a popular fishing spot.

The Mississinewa winds through the first several miles through the Francis Slocum Forest. The river is somewhat deep and moves relatively fast. You'll pass the Wabash Valley Coon Hunters Association near a bridge, and then the river is bordered by the Miami Indian tribe-owned land. Across the river, about three miles from the dam, is Seven Pillars, which is beautfilly carved limestone made by centuries of the river's brute force. If you climb the pillars, you'll find old State Road 124 and there are holes on the surface overlooking the pillars and the river. Across the highway is Old-Fashioned Gardens, the home of legendary songwriter Cole Porter's grandmother. It was the inspiration for the Porter song of the same name.

For the next mile or so, the banks along this part of the Mississinewa are high, with towering sycamores creating a cathedral-like effect over the river. The river breaks out into open farmland - with affluent farms with names like "Good Enough" and another owned by Emil Schram, president of the New York Stock Exchange back in the '40s, and after it crosses under State Road 124 then it becomes quite shallow and strewn with many boulders. It was here that during the first part of the 20th Century, a number of famous circuses like Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey had their winter quarters along Mississinewa, where it wasn't uncommon seeing exotic animals being bathed by their keepers in the river. Some of the barns are still visible from the banks. The Miami County Museum in Peru has the skull of a circus elephant with a bullet hole. It was shot after it slammed its keeper on the rocks in the Mississinewa. The current Peru Circus Hall of Fame is now located just off the banks of the Mississinewa, where the roars of lions and tigers can still be heard by those canoeing past during outdoor performances.

The final mile of the Mississinewa cuts through the Wabash River Valley. It has some of the richest farmland in the world - as Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut might describe - as rich and black as chocolate cake. The Miamis had an Indian village in this part of the river as it gradually widens out and drafts deeper. Finally, after about nine miles, it reaches the muddy old Wabash River amidst the river bottom lands. The Mississinewa appears quite clear, compared to the Wabash, where it is lined with big sycamores.

You can take the Wabash into Peru, taking out at the city Power Plant just before reaching the Wayne Street Bridge. Click here for a map there

The stretch of the Mississinewa from the dam to the Wabash is one of my favorite in Indiana because of its history, natural and historic landmarks.

- Submitted by Brian A. Howey, of Indianapolis, and a resident of Peru from 1966 to 1978.


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