Niles lies on the banks of the St. Joseph River, at the site of the French Fort St. Joseph, first built in 1697 to protect the Jesuit Mission established in 1691.  The town was named after Hezekiah Niles, editor of the Niles Register.  The town of Niles, as it exists today, was settled in 1826.  Niles was an integral part of the underground railroad.