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Nappanee History

Located in the fertile farmland of the headwaters of the Wabash River in northern Indiana, Nappanee (Elkhart County) is a thriving small city that marks the southern gateway to the Northern Indiana Amish Country.


Prior to 1800 Nappanee was home to the Miami and Pottawatomi Indians.  In 1830, the first white settlers came to the area and by 1870 there were seven farms and a population of forty providing the nucleus of a growing community.


The major catalyst for growth would come with the B&O Railroad in 1874.  Three pioneer farmers gave five acres to the Railroad for $1 to build a station along its new route to Chicago.  This access to a major transportation route brought more settlers to the town that B&O dubbed “Nappanee.”  The families who populated the area were deeply religious and conservative, founding their community on the values of hard work and integrity.


The B&O has now become CSX, but Nappanee has some ways stayed the Nappanee of the 1880s.  The city remains surrounded by many farm families of the Anabaptist religious sects, among them the Amish, Mennonite and German Baptist.  Many surrounding farms have no electricity, natural gas or telephone lines connecting them to the outside world and horse-drawn buggies the main source of travel.


These reminders of the past co-exist side-by-side with a modern American city, boasting a thriving light manufacturing industry focused on Recreational Vehicles and Modular Homes, as well as craftsmen who mix old and new in producing fine furniture and other woodwork.  Currently, Nappanee is home to a diverse population of approximately 7000 – with room to grow!

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