Located in Lake County, less than an hour from downtown Chicago, Merrillville is a hub of retail trade and commerce in Northwest Indiana. Although it is not characterized by heavy industry like many other parts of northern Lake County, Indiana, Merrillville is still home to a number of large businesses, including NiSource, a Fortune 500 company.
The land that Merrillville sits on was originally owned by the Potawatomi Indians, but it wasn’t until Jeremiah Wiggins arrived in 1835 that Merrillville was named Wiggins Point and resembled a true town. It soon began to grow as a stop for wagon trains heading to Joliet, Illinois along the Old Sauk Trail. Joliet wasn’t the only destination, as there were once as many as 16 Native American trails that ran through Wiggins Point. Merrillville was not officially named until 1971, when it was incorporated as a town.
The Merrillville Community School District serves the area, with five elementary schools, an intermediate school for grades 5-6, a middle school, and Merrillville High School for grades 9-12. There is one private high school located in Merrillville— Andrean High School, a Roman Catholic School operated by the Diocese of Gary. Two commercial airports located within a half hour of Merrillville are the Griffith-Merrillville Airport, and the slightly larger Gary/Chicago International Airport located in nearby Gary. Merrillville is located just off the Indiana Toll Road, as well as Interstate 65, making travel across the Midwest readily accessible.
Merrillville has one of the most extensive parks departments in the state, with broader-based activities like the popular annual coach trip to New York City sponsored by the Merrillville Parks Department. There are over a dozen parks in Merrillville, with many featuring athletic fields, playground equipment, picnic areas, and lakes and streams for fishing.