History | Amenities | State Park Features | Local Attractions | Driving Directions
Legend says that Leopold Pokagon was the son of a Chippawa father and Ottawa mother, born around the year 1775. He was abducted from his Chippawa village by a Potawatomi chief and given to Chief Topenebee of the Potawatomi. He was given the name Pokagon because he was wearing a headdress which contained a human rib. The word Pokagon means "rib". However, books later written by his son, Simon, tend to refute this legend.
Simon Pokagon, son of Leopold, was born in an old Potawatomi village. When Simon was eleven years old, his father died and area settlers took the task of educating him. He eventually attended four years at Notre Dame, one year at Oberlin, and two years at Twinsburg College in Ohio. During his college career, Simon met and married a Potawatomi Indian girl named Lonidaw. They built a wigwam home of bark and poles in a stately wood near a crystal lake somewhere in Northern Indiana. Lake Lonidaw, in Pokagon State Park, got its name because it is said to resemble this legendary lake.
In treaties of 1826 and 1830, the Potawatomi tribe sold all their land which made up a large part of Northern Indiana and included the present site of Chicago. They were compensated with three cents an acre, which even at that time was considered an extremely small amount. It would be 70 years before they would be fully paid for the land. Following the treaty of 1830, the Potawatomi were evicted from the area and were relocated west of the Mississippi River to what is now Kansas. Leopold's band moved on their own to an area north of South Bend near Dowagiac, Michigan. In 1893, Simon Pokagon and his family attended the World's Fair in Chicago. It was there that Chief Pokagon transferred the deeds for the land. The occasion was a formality that was long overdue.
In 1925, after careful planning and negotiating, the residents of Steuben County purchased 580 acres along the shores of Lake James and Snow Lake. The land was tendered as a Christmas gift from the residents of Steuben County to the State of Indiana. Another additional 127 acres were added by the State to make a total of 707 acres.
1926 was the actual starting point of park construction. The park at that time consisted of 707 acres and was the third largest park in the state. After approximately two years, the twenty unit hotel (Potawatomi Inn) was completed, costing $3500.00 per unit. On February 23, 1927, Colonel Richard Lieber, State Conservation Commissioner suggested the name Pokagon after the Chief. By unanimous agreement, the park was officially named Pokagon State Park.
Most of the park construction was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) between 1934 and 1942. They constructed the roads, trails, camping units, walks, gate house, cabins, beach house, shelter house, Spring Shelter, Saddle Barn, and the first toboggan slide. In addition, they planted thousands of young trees.
The park presently has 1,260 acres of woods and shoreline. People come from all over the Midwest to enjoy the park and recreational activities offered all four seasons of the year.
- December 1925: 580 acres of land is purchased by the citizens of Steuben County for $35,000.00 and deeded to the Department of Conservation, State of Indiana
- 1926: Two additional tracts of land (127 acres) are added to make a total park acreage of 707.
- 1927: Colonel Richard Lieber, State Conservation Commissioner suggested the names Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- May 1927: 20 room Potawatomi Inn hosts the Lake James Cottage Owners Association as its first guests.
- June 17, 1927: Dedication ceremonies for the Inn are held.
- Circa 1940: The alcove addition was completed and the sun room is enclosed.
- Circa 1950: Individual restrooms are installed and the motel unit is converted.
- 1968: The Hoosier wing is added.
- 1980's: Partial renovation of the interior of the building and installation of the elevator is done.
- 1982: Indoor pool area is constructed.
- March 1994: Construction begins on $7.5 million expansion of Potawatomi Inn. 59 additional rooms bring the total number of overnight rooms to 142. Expansion included a full service Conference Center and additional facilities.
- July 1995: Construction continues as the Conference Center is completed and offices and Front Desk are moved to a new area.
- December 1, 1995: Dedication of the newly renovated Potawatomi Inn
- Lake front setting with large sandy beach front
- Pontoon Boat rentals available on site
- Adult and child bicycles available for rent at the inn and the park campstore
- Small watercraft also available for rent (Kayaks, Paddle Boats, Row Boats)
- Dock space available on a first come basis
- Indoor swimming pool, whirlpool and sauna
- Staffed Activity Room that offers daily activities and crafts for young and old
- Game room
- Exercise Room
- Guest Laundry
- Unique Gift Shop featuring Indiana made products as well as regional products
- Free Wireless Internet throughout the Inn
- Complimentary Coffee/ Hot Tea Station
- Satellite Television
- DVD Players available for rent at the front desk, please bring your own DVDs
- Bonfire pit near the Lake
- ATM on property
- Free parking
- Many lounging areas throughout the Inn many with fireplaces
- Full service Dining Room with a cozy fireplace
- Courtyard café for lighter fare with inside and outside dining
- Large sun porch facing Lake James
- Spacious Sundeck connected to the Inn a great place to sit and relax, beautiful enough for an outdoor wedding ceremony with Lake James as a backdrop!
State Park Features
- Nine walking trails throughout the park ranging from easy to moderate with the longest trail at 2.2 miles in length. Eleven miles of total walking pleasure (Power wheelchair available for use by people with mobility limitations at the Nature Center). Two trails are accessible with power wheelchair.
- Bike trail 1.6 mile in length which connects the campgrounds, Nature Center, Saddle Barn and Inn
- Campground equipped with flush toilets, hot water and showers. Sites also have picnic tables and fire ring. Electricity also available
- Concessions open seasonally for camping area and beach
- Fishing - Bass, bluegill, walleye, crappie, northern pike and catfish just to name a few. Licenses are available at the Park Office.
- Nature Center - Exhibits on park’s natural and cultural history. Staffed by an interpretive naturalist to help with your discovery of nature at its best.
- Shelters throughout the park, some featuring a fireplace, picnic table, fire ring and grills.
- Stables offering guided horseback riding as well as pony rides for the younger set. Hayrides also available upon request.
- Large swimming area with a bathhouse and concession area
- Indiana’s only refrigerated Toboggan run, 1,780 feet of two refrigerated tracks; you never need snow to enjoy this wonder, it is even equipped with a speedometer! Click here for the Toboggan's Website
- Cross-country Skiing on groomed trails available only with a six inch base of snow (equipment rental available)
- Ice Skating, Ice Fishing available on Lake James weather permitting (at your own risk).
- Group Camp with cabins that sleep eight, full kitchen facility in a separate building with dining area or meeting area. Close to the beach
Within two minutes from the Inn:
- Every shopper’s dream - Outlet Shoppes of Fremont - featuring such brand names as Coach, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and Jockey.
- Pokagon Falls Miniature Golf - Fun for young and old.
- Country Meadows Golf Course - 18-hole par 71 course, snack bar and bar.
Within ten minutes from the Inn:
- Yogi Bears Jellystone Park - Featuring several Water Slides and Camping
- Briali Winery
- Angola Motor Speedway - offering Stock Car racing on most Summer weekends
- Chapman's Brewing Company
- Satek Winery - featuring local award winning wines
- Historical downtown Angola, featuring soldier’s monument, antique shopping, jewelry stores and dining
- Buck Lake Ranch - an indoor and outdoor flea market, summer concerts and dances
- Nature Preserves - Pokagon Nature Preserve, McClue Reserve, Ropchan Wildlife Preserve, and Beechwood Nature Reserve
- The Strand Theater and the Brokaw 1 & 2 featuring new releases
- Golf Courses for every skill set. From easy to championship.
Within thirty to forty minutes from the Inn:
- Auburn, IN - Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum featuring an exhibit of more than 100 unique classical automobiles, plus a small theater presentation
- Also in Auburn a World War II museum, just off of I-69 - don’t miss Kruse auction Labor Day weekend
- Mongo, IN - a town just west of Angola featuring Pigeon River Canoe Rental, Indiana State Fish and Wildlife area
- La Grange, IN - visit Amish Country attractions
- Shipshewana, IN - featuring the famous Shipshewana flea market and a quaint town with old time stores and shopping area
- Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Voted one of the top ten best children’s zoos in the United States.
- State Line Golf Center featuring 36 holes of miniature golf, pro shop, driving range and grass tees
Chicago, IL | Detroit, MI | Ft. Wayne, IN | Indianapolis, IN | Lansing, MI | Toledo, OH
- Chicago, IL:
(Approximately three hours and 160 miles) Take the Tri-State East 294, onto the Indiana toll road, I-80/90. Take the Indiana toll road east and merge onto I-69 south, exit 144. Follow I-69 to exit 354 and turn right off exit ramp. Continue straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- Detroit, MI:
(Approximately two and a half hours and 150 miles) Take I-75 south toward Toledo. Merge onto the I-80/90 toll road west exit 144 to I-69 south. Follow I-69 to exit 354 and turn right off exit ramp. Continue Straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- Ft. Wayne, IN:
(Approximately 45 minutes and 44 miles) Take I-69 to exit 354 and turn left off exit ramp onto 127 and turn left at stop light onto 727. Continue Straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- Indianapolis, IN:
(Approximately three hours and 170 miles) Take I-465 north, merge onto I-69 North exit 37B toward Ft. Wayne. Follow I-69 to exit 354 and turn left off exit ramp onto 127 and turn left at stop light onto 727. Continue straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- Lansing, MI:
(Approximately one and a half hours and 86 miles) Take I-69 south toward Ft. Wane, Indiana. Follow I-69 to exit 354 and turn right off exit ramp. Continue straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.
- Toledo, OH:
(Approximately one and a half hours and 90 miles) Take I-80/90 toll road west exit 144 to I-69 south. Follow I-69 to exit 354 and turn right off exit ramp. Continue straight, as this is the road into Pokagon State Park and Potawatomi Inn.