Wanatah, Indiana is a town with a population of about 1,000 located in the northwestern corner of the state in southern LaPorte County. It is approximately 30 miles south of Lake Michigan at the intersection of US Hwy 30 and Hwy 421.
Early settlers to the area found a huge marshland, but they persevered and they eventually turned the rich soil into good farmland. Game was also abundant, providing a steady food supply for these young families. Wanatah was founded in 1865 and included a hotel, flour mill, several stores and blacksmith shops, lumber, grain and agriculture businesses, physicians, churches, and telegraph offices. Its proximity to the two railroads which crossed in Wanatah was a strong contributor to its early growth.
Like many small towns, Wanatah has had its share of hardships and significant historical events. Among the more notable were the Yellowstone Trail going through Wanatah and the Abraham Lincoln Funeral Train making a stop in Wanatah.
The name ‘Wanatah’ has some debate surrounding its meaning and origin. One of the theories is that it was the name of a beautiful Indian girl, and another common explanation is that it was named after the Potawatomi Chief Wanatah and that the name means ‘Knee Deep in Mud’. However, according to several publications including a book titled “Indiana Place Names” the name Wanatah is actually derived from an Indian Chief by that name and the name is interpreted as “He who Charges His Enemies” or “The Charger”.
Wanatah continues to enjoy growth while maintaining the closeness and friendliness of a small community. Those seeking the familiarity and pace of rural life while also enjoying the benefits of being near several large cities find Wanatah to be an ideal location.