Located just north of South Bend, Indiana and lying along the St. Joseph River near the Michigan-Indiana border, Niles is one of the oldest settlements in the Midwest. Rich in history and playing key roles in the American Revolutionary War and the Underground Railroad, Niles has a decorated past and a promising future.
Niles, named after Hezekiah Niles, a Baltimore editor, was first settled in 1697, when the French Fort St. Joseph, constructed to protect the recently established Jesuit Mission, was built. During the Revolutionary War, the fort was held by Spain, making it the fourth country (France, Britain, Spain and the United States) to hold the fort and earning Niles the nickname “City of Four Flags.” In the mid-nineteenth century, the town served as an integral part of the Underground Railroad, which helped tens of thousands of slaves escape to Canada and gain their freedom.
The Niles Community Schools consist of seven buildings: four elementary schools, two middle schools, and Niles High School. With an alternative education option, a special education school, and adult education, Niles serves numerous academic needs. Niles provides transportation throughout the town through its Dial-A-Ride Transportation System (DART), an on-demand and route-based transportation service. Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services both serve Niles, with daily service to Chicago.
Chapin Mansion, a popular attraction in Niles, is the former site of the city hall, and is currently a museum open to the public. A Michigan state historic site, it is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion also houses the Fort St. Joseph Museum, which includes exhibits on the Fort, the Underground Railroad, and artifacts of the Lakota people. The Riverfront Park spans across a mile and a half of the St. Joseph River, and hosts many of the city’s seasonal cultural events, as well as summer concerts and festivals.