History of Fort Wayne

Exciting Events in Fort Wayne



General Anthony Wayne, who had won the Battle of Fallen Timbers in Ohio, traveled west to the confluence of three rivers, the St Marys and the Maumee. Fort Wayne, now known as Kekionga, was the home of a Miami settlement 30 years before Wayne’s victory over Fallen Timbers. Wayne constructed a fort there, though the French had built Fort Miami in 1722. Fort Wayne was also born in 1794. The U.S. Government now has jurisdiction over the area, so the fort was named in honor of General Anthony Wayne.


The third fort was constructed in 1816. Today, you can see its replica on Spy run Avenue. You can visit the Historic Fort Wayne today during historical reenactments and demonstrations. It was constructed during the U.S. Bicentennial Year of 1976 and has been renovated since then.

Fort Wayne’s first school was built in 1825 when there were only 200 people. It was a small, private school that also doubled as a public meeting house and church. Hugh McCulloch and Charles Case founded the first public school in 1853. William Stewart was its founder. McJunkin School was the name of the school. It was located at Lafayette Street. Due to the many children who helped at home harvesting and planting on their family farms, schools were not very common in those days.


Three rivers are the reason our city is so well-known. In the 1830s, locals decided to build a canal. The canal was chosen over a railroad after much debate. This huge project took 18 years to complete and attracted many Irish and German workers to the area. It covered 452 miles from Fort Wayne to Evansville.

For $3.25, you could take a canal boat from Fort Wayne to Toledo. Fort Wayne’s rapid growth was due to it. We reached 2000 in 1840. Fort Wayne was incorporated in 1840 and George Wood was elected its first mayor. Fort Wayne was an important docking place for boats when the canal was in its prime. Columbia Street, the next street, was nicknamed “The Landing” and quickly became the heart of Fort Wayne’s activity. The canal has been closed and sold to Nickel Plate Railroad. However, The Landing is being revitalized to bring life back to its original location. Sweet Breeze is Fort Wayne’s 1840s-replica canal boat that offers a scenic tour of the rivers.


In 1840, Dr. Schmidt’s home was the first to have a Fort Wayne Christmas tree. It was lit with candles and arrived via the Wabash and Erie Canals.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church was the first German congregation to be established in Fort Wayne in 1848. This Fort Wayne landmark was destroyed by lightning strikes in 1994. On the original site, the current church was constructed in 1999.

1848 was the year that the canal’s first telegraph line was established. It linked Fort Wayne and Toledo.

The canal brought the first railroad locomotive to Fort Wayne in 1854. The railroad was born.

Fort Wayne’s first electric car was built in 1891. It was powered by a battery and could travel 12 miles an hour. Soon trolleys were introduced as a mode of transport.


Fort Wayne celebrates its 225th birthday. Fort Wayne is continuing to build on its history. Fort Wayne is second in Indiana’s largest city, behind Indianapolis. The Summit City, City of Churches and the All-American City are some of our nicknames. We’re also known as the City that Saved Itself after the 1982 floods. Fort Wayne is experiencing a remarkable revitalization, which makes it a great place to live and visit. The city is returning to its roots in many ways. The new Promenade park is helping us to reconnect with our rivers in new ways. The Landing brings back the excitement of canal-era Columbia Street days. Fort Wayne’s future is exciting!