Terre Haute: In Sunlight and Shadows
What better place could there be to embrace life’s joy and sorrow than right here in the Crossroads of America? In the space between sunlight and shadows live the stories of this little, big town. A seemingly typical midwestern city, Terre Haute is the hometown you miss on a long, far away journey. With its fists up and feet dug into firm soil, it’s a city not afraid to fight for its traditions and bears the scars of its ongoing social and economic battles. Terre Haute welcomes those who come in search of new beginnings. Like the Wabash River that runs along the city’s west side, at times Terre Haute can be peaceful, while at other times, as moody as the waters are muddy.
It was the river after all that first caught the attention of early French explorers. They named the area Terre Haute, meaning “Highland," which describes its geological location above the river.
It was the home of the Wea Native American tribe, who whites forced to relocate to Missouri and Arkansas in 1820. They found the rich soil perfect for planting and the river to offer a plentiful supply of fish and water.
This abundant region also caught the attention of William Henry Harrison. At the time he was the territorial Governor of Indiana and, in 1811, was commissioned to build a fort overlooking the Wabash River. The stockade was critical in the War of 1812.
The village of Terre Haute became the County seat of Vigo County in 1818, and was declared an official city in 1853. An expanding population led to growth in business as well as industry. Terre Haute was an epicenter for prosperity and entrepreneurship.
The home of small town success and big time influence, Terre Haute has seen its share of setbacks, but manages to surmount. With grit and tenacity it rises to meet each challenge, past and present.