Trains Up Close
Thomas the Tank Engine is a hero in your house? You're also facinated by the big locomotives on those few occasions when you see them? If you have a half hour to spend, stop by Porter Junction and you'll have a great time.
Porter Junction isn't a store, it's not even a building. It's the cross roads of five Railroad lines. Lake Michigan forces transportation cooridors, (roads & utilities included) into a thin slice of land at the southern tip of the Lake. Porter Junction is one of those unique spots where trains come together every 5 or 10 minutes.
Check out Porter, Indiana for more
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
If you're traveling with kids be sure to stop at the Chellberg Farm, a working late 19th century style farm complete with animals. Kids of all ages, including this 25 year old kid, love it.
Like other Swedish families, Anders and Johanna Kjellberg's (later anglicized to Chellberg) settled in the Northwest Indiana region in the 1870s and tried their hand at yeoman farming. The family purchased this 80 acre plot from the Bailly family in 1872 and 1874. The farm was family run until 1972, when the descendents sold it to the National Park System.
The NPS hosts numerous special (and very popular) activities throughout the year including the Maple Sugar Time, Harvest Fest and regular Feed the Animal days. Visit the website below.
Once was a Ski Jump
Indiana Historical Bureau: ID#: 64.1997.1
Title: Ogden Dunes Ski Jump
Marker Text: Steel and wood ski jump with adjustable height and length was built here for Ogden Dunes Ski Club, incorporated in 1927 to promote winter sports. Five annual events with international competitors were held 1928-1932, with 7,000 to 20,000 spectators. Reputed to be the largest artificial ski jump at the time. Dismantled after 1932 event.
Credit Line: Erected 1997 Indiana Historical Bureau and Historical Society of Ogden Dunes.
Directions: Kratz Field, 82 Hillcrest Road at Boat Club Road, Ogden Dunes.
- Historical Travel
The Swedish Communities Roots
Part of Porter's early history is linked to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. After the fire, many Swedes who had been living in Chicago had lost their homes. The Swedish Lutheran Church in Lake County helped those folks get resettled into northern Indiana on farms. This became the Swedish Community where the French Baillytown was planned nearly 50 years earlier. More on the farms can be found at my Swedish FarmsTravelogue
The best reminder of this community is the Augsburg Lutheran Church on Mineral Springs Road at West Beam Street. The Porter community opened their own church and it has thrived ever since. The cemetery includes many of the early pioneers and their descendents.
If you drive north to Oak Hill Road, you'll be able to see the original Skola or school. This building served as the church and school in the early years. A cemetery crowns the hill behind it. Please respect the property as it is privately owned.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
See What's Happening in Chesterton
Porter and Chesterton are nearly twin sisters, who get along and sometimes don't. Each has a unique offering of things to do, places to see and food to eat. So, don't miss what's available across the tracks! Just don't ask which side is the wrong side of the tracks!
My Chesterton page
VT's Chesterton page
Inland Marsh Overlook
You won't get to view many marshes from the Inland Marsh trail, so travel a mile west from the Inland Marsh trail parking lot along US 12 to the Overlook.
This is a remnant of the much larger "Great Marsh," a giant, contiguous wetland that stretched from Gary to Michigan City. That was one big wetland! An important habitat for migrating waterfowl, insects, lizards and amphibians, wetland preservation is quickly becoming an important goal in environmental protection. And for those of you who are too shortsighted and stupid and can't view ecological concerns beyond terms of human financial gain, healthy wetlands prevent such minor annoyances like basement and street flooding.
Long known as "Tamarack Bog," the fen was renamed in honor of University of Chicago ecologist Dr. Henry Cowles (pronounced 'kohls") after the Save The Dunes Council purchased the land in the late 1950s. This haven for wildlife was where the good doctor did his landmark studies on plant succession in the early twentieth century. The NPS gives occasional tours into the bog (bring boots) but it is best observed from the Cowles Bog Trail.
This, along with the nearby Chellberg Farm, is the most popular non-beach site of the Indiana Dunes. Born near Montreal, Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein (1774-1835) was one of the first permanent settlers in Northwest Indiana, arrving for good in 1822 after almost 30 years of voyages into the area. Along with his half-Ottawa Indian wife Marie, the Bailly family made a very succesful living in the fur trade. Near the end of his life Joseph tried his hand at land speculating and even laid plans for the town. The giant Bethlehem Steel plant now occupies the site of Baillytown. Members of the Bailly clan lived at the homestead until 1918.
About a mile north of the Bailly/Chellburg Visitor Center and parking lot, deep in the forest is the final resting place of Honoré Gratien Joseph Bailly and family. The wooden cross of this huge memorial is sometimes visible from US 12, when there aren't leaves on the trees. Built in 1885 and 1914, other skeletons, some of early settlers, some of Natives, have been found here.
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