The 10 Longest Rivers in Indiana

The Ohio River creates a natural border between the cities of Jeffersonville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.
The Ohio River creates a natural border between the cities of Jeffersonville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.

Indiana is the 38th largest US state and is located in the Midwestern region of the country. It is the 17th most populous state in the US, and Indianapolis is Indiana's capital and biggest city. Indiana is bordered by Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Lake Michigan, and Illinois. Some of the major river systems in the state of Indiana include: the White River, Wabash River, Maumee River, and Blue River. According to Indiana's Department of Natural Resources, the state contains about 65 rivers, streams, and creeps of scenic beauty or environmental interest. The largest river systems in Indiana cover a total of 24,000 miles.

Longest Rivers in Indiana

Ohio River

The Ohio River covers a distance of 981 miles and traverses through 5 other states: Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. The river is the most significant tributary of Mississippi River in the US in terms of volume of discharge. At the point where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet, the Ohio River is actually bigger than the Mississippi. The Ohio River also passes along the borders of six US states and drains a basin covering parts of 15 states. It had considerable historical importance to Native Americans, because many of the civilizations were formed along the valley of the river. For several centuries Native Americans utilized the river as a significant mode of transport and trading route. In the early 19th century, the Ohio River formed the border of the Northwest Territory, and it is often thought to be the westernmost extension of the Mason-Dixon Line, which divided Maryland from Pennsylvania. The narrow part of the river became an escape route for thousands of slaves from the south seeking freedom during the Underground Railroad movement.

Wabash River

The Wabash River covers a course of 503 miles, starting near Fort Recovery in Mercer County, Ohio and discharges into the Ohio River near the town of Shawnee, Illinois. The river flows in a southwest direction, close to the Indiana border in northern Ohio, and finally crosses the central and northern parts of Indiana. Finally, it runs through the southern part of Illinois, where it creates the Indiana-Illinois border before eventually draining into the Ohio River. The Wabash River is considered the state river of Indiana and its basin drains an area of 39, 950 square miles.

White River

The White River forms two forks which flow across southern and central parts of the state of Indiana. The river forms one of the main tributaries of the Wabash River that covers a course of 362 miles. The state capital of Indiana, Indianapolis, is located close to the White River. The western fork of the river covers a distance of 312 miles and the eastern fork river covers a distance of 192 miles. The two rivers join at the tripoint of Pike, Knox, and Daviess counties and flow as a single river through three of Indiana's state parks.

Conservation of Watershades

It is estimated that between 40% and 50% of the water bodies in the United States are either threatened or impaired, meaning that the waters do not support any of their intended uses. This means that the water is not suitable for uses such as swimming, drinking, and any fish caught from the waters should not be consumed. Most of the leading causes of pollution include bacteria, sediments, and excessive nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen. In 2010, an assessment of waterways in Indiana indicated that the top causes of water impairment included heavy metals like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyl, and pathogens.

The 10 Longest Rivers in Indiana

Rank´╗┐RiverLength (miles)Length (km)
1Ohio River9811,579
2Wabash River503810
3White River 362583
4St. Joseph River206332
5East Fork White River 192309
6Tippecanoe River182293
7Patoka River 167269
8Great Miami River 160260
9Maumee River137220
10Kankakee River133214

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