The St. Joseph-Kankakee Portage
Backstory and Context
Though French explorers traversing the area now on the outskirts of South Bend kept few records of their travels through the Midwest, what they did make note of about the portage was the abundance of wild animals such as bears, bison, minks, muskrats, wolf, foxes, and wild-cats.This land surrounding the portage would eventually be called by an early American writer "the garden of America", due to its plentiful game and flora.The path was where canoes used to travel down the the main trade routes of Indiana, its rivers, could not be used had to be carried across miles of wooded area and marshland to the next waterway. Carvings made on trees from French explorers like Rene-Robert Cavalier still were visible and able to be photographed in the late 1800s from where they marked their path. La Salle, one of the most influential French explorers of the time, would use Indiana and the portage as an essential route to expand French influence and make peace with tribes in the area.
Baker, George A. “The St. Joseph-Kankakee Portage.” Northern Indiana Historical Society , vol. 1, no. 1, 1 May 1899.
Cox, I. (1905). The journeys of Rene Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle.