County Profile: Huntington County

Posted on Feb 25 2021 in County
Person fishing
A fisherman plies the rushing water emerging below the dam of the J.E. Roush Lake in Huntington County. The dam, on the Wabash River, is the first of three along the Upper Wabash Valley Basin built for flood control in the 1960s.

Huntington County is home of the J.E. Roush Lake, the only impoundment on the Wabash River; and the county hosts the only museum dedicated to the vice presidents of the United States, particularly former resident Dan Quayle.

J.E. Roush Lake, first known as Huntington Lake, was completed in 1968 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a dam on the Wabash at the southeast edge of Huntington, the county seat. The lake is one of three Upper Wabash Valley reservoirs operating primarily to control flood waters along the Wabash as it winds its way westwardly through northern Indiana before heading south to the Ohio River.

Encompassing the 900-acre lake and 7,500 acres of surrounding land, the J.E. Roush Lake Fish & Wildlife Area provides quality hunting and fishing opportunities. The area is operated and maintained by the Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife. Spring is a great time for watching waterfowl at the lake. Other activities allowed at the lake include boating, camping, picnicking, and water sports.

The second of the three Wabash Valley dams is on the Salamonie River that runs through southern Huntington County before flowing into the Wabash River near Lagro in neighboring Wabash County.
The dam sits just west of the line separating the counties, but much of the serpentine reservoir it creates backs up into Huntington County. 

The 2,665-acre lake and its surrounding property provides scenic trails, wildlife and bird watching, hunting, and camping, as well as swimming, at several state-managed recreation areas. The third dam is on the Mississinewa River in Miami County.

Huntington Lake was renamed after J. Edward Roush, an Indiana congressman in the 1960s and ‘70s. A county resident, Roush was known as the “Father of 911” for his work in helping create the nationwide three-digit emergency call system. The first implementation of 911 by AT&T took place March 1, 1968, in Huntington. Roush died in Huntington in 2004 at the age of 83 and is buried in town.

Roush, a Democrat, lost his U.S. House seat in the 1976 election to Dan Quayle, a young Republican, also from Huntington. Quayle became a U.S. senator in 1981 and served as vice president from 1989-93 during the one term of President George H.W. Bush. 

The Quayle Vice Presidential Learning Center opened in 1993 in downtown Huntington. The institution has the stated mission of educating the public, especially elementary and middle school students, about the office of the vice president, as well as the history and workings of the government. 

County Facts

Founded: 1832

Named for: Samuel Huntington, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation which preceded the U.S. Constitution. Because Huntington was the president of the Continental Congress when the Articles of Confederation were ratified, some unconventional biographers and civic groups in his home state of Connecticut claim that Huntington was actually the first President of the United States.

Population: 36,240 (2018 estimate)

County seat: Huntington