The 1830 surveyor’s map of Elkhart County outlines the Elkhart Prairie, highlighted here in green. The surveyor also located a trail (blue line) used by Native Americans for centuries, noting where it crossed the section lines that he was marking for the purpose of selling parcels of land to settlers.
Before the arrival of European settlers, Indigenous Peoples of numerous tribes used this trail to travel between what would later become Ft. Wayne and Indigenous settlements on the Saint Joseph River to the north. Just south of the St. Joseph River, a branch of the trail continued directly west to more settlements at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.
Both Myaamia (Miami) and Bodéwadmi (Potawatomi) lived in what is now northern Indiana. When European settlers arrived, the Myaamia were primarily in the southern areas and the Potawatomi were in the north.
Eighth Street Mennonite Church is located on what was the far northern tip of the prairie where it transitioned into oak savannah. The trail passed a few yards east of the church property and then northwest to what is now the Elkhart County Courthouse square in downtown Goshen.
To the south, the trail passed through today’s Greencroft Goshen campus, through the main lobby of Manor IV and between Walnut and Sycamore Courts. Goshen College is located between the Elkhart Prairie and the Elkhart River.
The trail name and logo have been selected by a volunteer organization that is preparing to erect signs memorializing the historic trail. Miami and Potawatomi heritage leaders have been advising in this process.