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Lafayette, Indiana

Lafayette, the seat of Tippecanoe County, is a major commercial and manufacturing center. Before white settlement began, it was the homeland of the Miami Indians, also known as the Ouiatenon or Weas. The first Europeans to arrive were the French, who established Fort Ouiatenon across the Wabash River in 1717. The fort served as a trading post for the fur trappers, merchants and Indians. A trader named William Digby established the town of Lafayette in May 1825, at the site of Fort Ouiatenon. It was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, who fought alongside the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Being located on the banks of the Wabash River, the town developed into a shipping center. With the construction of the Wabash and Erie Canal in the 1840s, Lafayette’s dominion in the river trade was firmly established. The arrival of the railroads in the 1850s further boosted trade. Lafayette was re-incorporated as a town under the laws of the second Indiana Constitution, in 1853. In August 1859, Lafayette became the site of the first official air mail flight by the U.S. Post Office, in a balloon trip that covered only 30 miles. The town's development received a significant boost following the establishment of Purdue University in neighboring West Lafayette, in 1869. Lafayette has an art museum, the Greater Lafayette Museum of Art, as well as a historical museum, the Tippecanoe County Historical Museum, plus Imagination Station, a hands-on family science center. Greater Lafayette Health Services operates two hospitals: Home Hospital and St. Elizabeth Medical Center. The latter is located in West Lafayette. A school of nursing has been part of the center since 1897.