Portage is a city in Portage Township, Porter County, in the U.S. state of Indiana. The population was 36,828 as of the 2010 census. It is the largest city in Porter County, and third largest in Northwest Indiana.
Prior to European settlement, Native Americans lived in Northwest Indiana. Mound Builders left a mound in the area now known as McCool, though the mound was destroyed in the early 1900s. Following the Mound Builders, the Wea tribe inhabited the area. The Wea were forced south by the Potawatomi.
Jacques Marquette, Louis Jolliet, Louis Hennepin or François Pétis de la Croix may have explored the area. Potawatomi chief, Leopold Pokagon, encouraged his tribe to sell tribal lands to European settlers. In 1812, Garyton became one of the first communities in Portage Township.
Samuel Putnam Robbins was among the first settlers, coming from Hocking County, Ohio, and he settled near modern-day Robbins Road between McCool Road and Indiana Highway 149. In 1834, Joseph Wolf squatted on land currently near the modern-day community of South Haven and operated dairy and beef farms there.