The History of Fort Loramie
In 1769 Pierre-Louis de Lorimier (Peter Loramie), a French-Canadian fur trader, built a trading post just north of the present-day village of Fort Loramie where he traded in furs with the Wyandot and Shawnee Indian tribes. Known as “The Frenchman’s Store” or “Loramie’s Station”, the post was burned to the ground during the 1782 campaign of General George Rogers Clark in an attack led by Col. Benjamin Logan. The site remained abandoned until 1795.
After the Battle of Fallen Timbers in August 1794, which ended the Northwest Indian War, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne ordered a fort built at the site as a supply depot for Fort Adams, Fort Defiance, and Fort Wayne. It was originally a stockade, but Wayne decided that a blockhouse and storage buildings were more vital. Construction was completed in December 1795.
During the War of 1812, Fort Loramie served as a supply depot for forts in northern Ohio, and as a waystation for expeditions against the British in Michigan and Canada. In 1815, the United States sold the fort to James Furrow, who constructed a post office and tavern out of the buildings. The business had closed by 1820, but a small settlement had grown up around the site.
A town was laid out and surveyed by Jonathan Counts. Lots were sold at auction, and the name Berlin was given to the town. When work started on the Miami-Erie Canal in 1836, German immigration began in earnest. The immigrants came mainly as laborers on the canal and soon purchased land and became permanent settlers. The canal was opened in 1841, bringing finished goods, groceries, clothing and machinery to the area, and taking wood products, grain, pork and other farm items back to the cities. Canal boats hauled the limestone for the foundation of St. Michael Church, built by German Catholic settlers starting in 1849.
The first flour mill was built in 1858, and the first general store, Willman’s, was established the same year. Other early establishments included Quinlin’s pharmacy and two taverns, Brucken’s and Vogelsang’s Café. In 1883 the community fire company was established.
The name of the town was officially changed from Berlin to Fort Loramie in 1911. By that time, the canal was almost a thing of the past as a result of the network of railroads that were expanding in all directions. The canal area, which ran through the center of town, fell into disrepair, but was eventually cleaned up, landscaped, and turned into a community park. The canal area north of town is part of a 40-mile Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Hiking Trail, which is part of the 1440-mile Buckeye Trail. The most important feature remaining from the early canal days is Lake Loramie, the reservoir that kept the canal filled with water. It is now a state park and a haven for fishermen, boaters, campers, and vacationers.