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Peru, Indiana

Peru, Indiana
Peru downtown
Peru downtown
Nickname(s): Circus Capital of the World
Location in the state of Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Country United States
State Indiana
County Miami
Founded 1834
Founded by William N. Hood
 • Mayor Jim R. Walker (R)
 • Total 5.18 sq mi (13.42 km2)
 • Land 5.11 sq mi (13.23 km2)
 • Water 0.07 sq mi (0.18 km2)  1.35%
Elevation 650 ft (198 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 11,417
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 11,257
 • Density 2,234.2/sq mi (862.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 46970-46971
Area code(s) 765
FIPS code 18-59328[4]
GNIS feature ID 0441047[5]

Peru is a city in, and the county seat of, Miami County, Indiana, United States. The population was 11,417 at the 2010 census, making it the most populous city in Miami County.[6] Peru is located along the Wabash River, which divides the city in two.

Residents usually pronounce the name of Peru like the name of the South American nation of Peru is commonly pronounced in American English. Elderly Hoosiers commonly use the archaic pronunciation of .


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
  • Demographics 3
    • 2010 census 3.1
    • 2000 census 3.2
  • "Circus Capital of the World" 4
  • Notable people 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Peru was founded in 1834 by William N. Hood.[7] Frances Slocum was reunited with members of her family near Peru in 1837, after nearly sixty years of captivity among Native Americans.

Early in the 20th century, Peru was home to a pioneering automobile maker, Model Automobile Company;[8] like many other early automobile manufacturers, Model did not survive.

In 1913 Peru, Indiana suffered a massive flood, the worst of its time. Between March 24 and March 27, 6 inches (150 mm) of rain fell on Peru, and sent water from the Wabash and Mississinewa rivers rushing down its streets at speeds of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h), destroying everything in its path. Before the flood of 1913, Peru was a busy town, full of activity, jobs, with its 15,000 inhabitants, 100 factories, a trolley service, railroads, a new hospital (Duke's), circus (which employed 1000 people on the road), and a new concrete bridge (largest of its kind in the world at the time). The total loss for Peru was estimated at $3,000,000 (1913 figures). Many people died, as well as many of the circus animals.

Public enemy John Dillinger and his gang robbed the Peru police department armory on October 21, 1933. They acquired two Thompson submachine guns, two Winchester rifles, two shotguns, four .38 revolvers and a half-dozen bulletproof vests.

On June 23, 1972, Martin J. McNally hijacked American Airlines Flight 119 while in flight from St. Louis to Tulsa. After receiving a ransom of $502,500 he jumped out of the back of the Boeing 727 in what was the ninth copycat hijacking in the style of D. B. Cooper. The entire ransom as well as a weapon were found near Peru. A fingerprint led to his arrest.[9] The money was found in a 45-pound (20 kg) sealed canvas mail bag by local farmer Lowell Elliott while he was working in his soybean field. Another farmer, Ronald Miller, discovered a Spitfire submachine gun in his corn field when a blade hit it while applying liquid nitrogen fertilizer.[10]

The movie Little Big Top, which starred Sid Haig, was shot and directed in the town of Peru. Scenes show the famous drive up to the "Mr. Weenie" restaurant and the Circus building.


Peru is located at (40.757690, -86.067791),[11] along the banks of the Wabash River.

According to the 2010 census, Peru has a total area of 5.173 square miles (13.40 km2), of which 5.1 square miles (13.21 km2) (or 98.59%) is land and 0.073 square miles (0.19 km2) (or 1.41%) is water.[1] Peru is the largest town or city in Miami County, and is the site of the tribal headquarters of the Miami Nation. Peru is located nearby Grissom Air Reserve Base, whose groundwater is contaminated with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) at 20 feet below the ground. Peru's water treatment plant tested negative for PFC in September 2015.[12]


Miami County courthouse.
Peru High School.

2010 census

As of the 2010 census,[2] there were 11,417 people, 4,791 households, and 2,961 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,234.2 inhabitants per square mile (862.6/km2). There were 5,704 housing units at an average density of 1,116.2 per square mile (431.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.1% White, 2.5% African American, 1.3% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 4,791 households of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.0% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 38.2% were non-families. 33.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.96.

The median age in the city was 39 years. 24.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.8% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.1% were from 25 to 44; 27% were from 45 to 64; and 15.6% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.5% male and 52.5% female.

2000 census

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 12,994 people, 5,410 households, and 3,397 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,815.5 people per square mile (1,085.9/km²). There were 5,943 housing units at an average density of 1,287.7 per square mile (496.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 92.71% White, 2.95% African American, 1.52% Native American, 0.43% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, and 1.83% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.32% of the population.

There were 5,410 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 32.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.97.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 88.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,668, and the median income for a family was $39,440. Males had a median income of $31,631 versus $20,440 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,497. About 9.5% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.

"Circus Capital of the World"

Peru was the winter headquarters for several famous circuses, including Ringling Brothers, Hagenbeck-Wallace, Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and others.[15] The International Circus Hall of Fame is located in Peru. Annually during the third week of July, the Peru Amateur Circus holds performances for the whole week, ending with the Circus City Festival and Parade. All of the performers are amateurs, ranging in age from 7 to 21 years. Peru is also the home of the world's only remaining manufacturer of steam calliopes.

Mariya Rasputina, daughter of Grigori Rasputin, was mauled by a bear in Peru while working for the Ringling Brothers Circus, but survived.[16]

Notable people


  1. ^ a b "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1".  
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  3. ^ "Population Estimates".  
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ "History of Miami County (archived)". Miami County Tourism Office. Retrieved 22 August 2015. 
  8. ^ Clymer, Floyd. Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877–1925 (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.57.
  9. ^
  10. ^,602320
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  12. ^ Associated Press (19 September 2015). "Grissom officials: Well tests show no chemical pollution". LIN Television Corporation. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  13. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  15. ^ Adkins, Kreig A. Peru: Circus Capital of the World ISBN 9780738560717
  16. ^ Barry, Rey (1968). ""Kind Rasputin"". "The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)". Retrieved February 18, 2007.
  17. ^ "Cole Porter Is Dead; Songwriter Was 72".  
  18. ^ "Keith O'Connor Murphy". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  19. ^ "Landmark Series :: Outside the Classroom | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  20. ^ Peru Daily Tribune Newspaper, June 30, 2012, Front Page.
  21. ^ "Thompson, G. David". MetMuseum. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 

External links

  • City of Peru, Indiana website
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