Volume 8, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Jeffrey B. Webb
Watershed Redesign in the Upper Wabash River Drainage Area, 1870-1970
The Huntington, Salamonie, and Mississinewa reservoirs in northern Indiana control seasonal flooding in the Upper Wabash River drainage area. They appeared in the 1960s after a long period of study and planning in response to large-scale flooding in central and southern Indiana in the first half of the twentieth century. Their construction disrupted the pattern of human ecology along the Wabash and its tributaries for many of the watershed’s inhabitants. Supporters touted the projects’ economic and recreational benefits, while opponents experienced the change as a desecration of sacred space. The projects saved millions in property damage and perhaps many human lives, but at the cost of an enduring sense of place amid the advent of a new regime of scientific watershed management and state control over natural resources in the region.