Michigan City Public Library
Sand dune
100 E. 4th Street, Michigan City, IN 46360, phone 219 - 873 - 3044 fax 219 - 873 - 3067

      Portable LaPorte County - Michigan City


Barker Civic Center
Battle of Trail Creek
Congregational Church
First Log Cabin
German Methodist Church
Greenwood Cemetery
The Harbor
Henry House
Hoosier Slide
Hutchinson House
Indiana State Prison
International Friendship Gardens
Michigan Central Depot
Michigan Road Marker and Town Square
The Old Lighthouse
Porter-Kerrigan House
Public Library
Pullman Standard
Sacred Heart Church
St. John's Evangelical Church
St. John's Hall and 400 Block
St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception Church
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
South Shore Station
Trinity Episcopal Church & Barker Hall
Washington Park, Zoo and Lakefront

Franklin Street

An early view of Franklin Street (facing south) preserves the plank pavement and hitching posts of the era; lost are the smells of open sewers and the ever-present horse manure.

Michigan City probably got its name from the Michigan Road, the great thoroughfare which had its northern terminus at the mouth of Trail Creek. Farsighted people envisioned a great lake port and city arising there which would serve the whole Midwest.

Franklin & 10th streets

Until WWI, 5th Street continued to divide the business center from the tree-lined residential area.  Three Franklin Street churches are pictured in this late 1800's photo, taken north from 10th Street:  St. John's (l), St. Paul's (r) and the Methodist Church (7th Street.)

One of these visionaries was Major Isaac C. Elston of Crawfordsville, who bought the land containing the creek mouth in 1831. Laid out one year later, the town site was low and swampy. Two huge sand dunes (Yankee Slide and Hoosier Slide) dominated the lakefront and the creek mouth was almost silted shut with sand.

Undeterred by these gloomy prospects, the first settlers began to arrive from the East in 1833. Sailing vessels soon began to stop at the "Michigan City" to unload goods needed by settlers in northern Indiana and to take on the cargoes of grain, pork, and beef raised by them. The early citizens were characterized as "pushing, enterprising, intelligent, and active" people. Because of their efforts, Michigan City was a major grain port for farmers as far south as Indianapolis during the 1840's. But soon Chicago would overshadow it, due in part to the efforts of Chicago landowner, Stephan A. Douglas.

In 1852, the Michigan Central Railroad reached here, putting Michigan City on a direct rail line with Eastern markets. Industries began to locate in Michigan City, drawn by the easy access to markets and raw materials. The Germans, Irish and the Poles were coming to the area, working in the many factories and contributing to a boom which increased the population 85% between 1870 and 1880. Services such as hospitals, police and fire protection, public schools, street lights and streetcars were introduced as the community expanded. Lumber boats and excursion ships made up the majority of harbor traffic.

Culturally, the city was dominated by the "Inner Circle" of wealthy people associated with the Haskell-Barker Car Co. Some of the nation's finest drama companies, speakers, musicians, and vaudeville acts stopped in Michigan City on their way to Chicago. The physical environment was improved by the development of Washington Park in 1891.

By the early 1900's, though, Michigan City was in the midst of an industrial slump. In 1917 the Michigan Central repair shops were moved to Niles, Michigan, and by 1918, six hundred families had followed.

To combat this problem, a Chamber of Commerce was formed. During the next six years they succeeded in bringing 22 new factories to the area as well as building a new sewer system and the Spaulding Hotel. Michigan City was then advertised by the Chamber as a tourist resort and convention center. Tourists and summer vacationers flocked to city beaches, coming by car and electric interurban. Soon, Sheridan Beach and Long Beach were filled with the summer cottages of wealthy Chicagoans. Partly as a result of the Chamber's efforts, population rose 37% by 1930. The Depression put many of the new factories out of business, but no banks closed in Michigan City and WPA projects kept many men employed.


As photographed from Hoosier Slide, the city was a major lumber and excursion steamer port in the late 1800's.  Enormous lumber stacks lined Trail Creek, covering the land which would later become Washington Park.

The years of World War II brought a boom in farming and manufacturing all across the country as the nation's industries switched from peacetime to wartime production. In Michigan City, Pullman-Standard built troop carriers and other railroad stock needed by the Allies, while Reliance Manufacturing made military uniforms rather than children's clothing.

The years following World War II have seen the problems plaguing most American urban areas come to Michigan City: inner-city decay, increasing disparity and tension between Black and White residents, loss of industries, etc. The city responded to these problems with some success and in 1966 Michigan City was chosen as one of Look magazine's 13 All-American cities.

1966 was also the year M.C. Elston won the coveted Indiana State Basketball Championship. Since the 1960's, the city government has continued their efforts to rejuvenate both the industrial base and physical environment of Michigan City.

Michigan City Harbor

Michigan City owes its existence to the presence of Trail Creek flowing into Lake Michigan.

As early as 1828, a group of surveyors determined that the mouth of the creek provided the best location along the Indiana shoreline for the development of a commercial harbor and city. A signal day for the new town was July 4, 1836, when the first commercial vessel ever entered Trail Creek. The small vessel, called the "Sea Serpent", was pulled and dragged by a group of enthusiastic citizens across the sand bar that blocked the mouth of the creek. That day also marked the first federal appropriation of $20,000 for the development of the harbor.

Even though the harbor remained unfinished and inaccessible to most vessels for the next 35 years, Michigan City rapidly developed into a leading forwarding port on Lake Michigan, shipping out great quantities of grain and other farm produce which were hauled to the harbor by wagon from as far south as Indianapolis. Temporarily stored in huge warehouses which lined the harbor, the grain was loaded into lighters, small boats which took the grain to larger ships anchored offshore in the lake.

Sailing ship

2000 sailing ships plied the Great Lakes in 1868, many of them stopping at Michigan City with cargoes of lumber, shingles and stone.  Twenty years later, at the time of this photo, lumber schooners were already archaic reminders of the past.  Steamers carrying both freight and passengers had supplanted the graceful sailing vessels.

Incoming vessels brought quantities of salt, stone, shingles and other commodities. By 1875 the harbor had seen much improvement and large sailing ships were able to enter the mouth of the creek for the first time. But by then the grain and produce business had disappeared because the railroads were shipping these products directly from the hinterlands to city markets. In place of the grain warehouses, huge lumber yards sprawled across the area that is now Washington Park, lining both sides of Trail Creek with lumber piles as high as men could stack them.

The late 1800s was the time of the great timber harvests in northern Michigan and Minnesota. Huge quantities of lumber were shipped south along the Great Lakes to ports such as Michigan City, where the lumber was then shipped by rail south and west or used locally in the county by the many wood-consuming industries such as the planning mills, cooperages, chair factories and car shops. This period marked the peak of lumber shipping to the harbor, when millions of board feet passed through the hands of the dock wallopers, or lumber shovers.


Such steamers as the "Joseph C. Suit" transported millions of board feet of lumber cut from the virgin forests of Michigan and Wisconsin.  Michigan City, as one of the lake's busiest ports, shipped much of this rough wood by rail to the expanding western settlements.  Other lumber shipments were transformed by local craftsmen into fancy mouldings, doors and furniture.

Coupled with this was the booming excursionist business which brought tens of thousands of visitors to the local waterfront by steam-powered excursion ships. Visitors came to town to tour the State Prison, climb Hoosier Slide and to enjoy the recreational facilities at Washington Park. Excursion ships gradually faded out during the Depression, while the lumber ships and other commercial vessels had ceased to be important in the 1920's, ending for all practical purposes almost 100 years of busy commercial activity at the harbor. Today's emphasis is on summertime recreational boating and fishing.

Hoosier Slide
(NIPSCO Generating Plant Site)

Hoosier Slide sand dune

Hoosier Slide, standing 175 feet tall on the west bank of Trail Creek, dominated the area's landscape for centuries.  Tourists from all parts of the world arrived by excursion trains and ships to climb the huge sand dune, rewarded at the top with a spectacular view.  Like many other lake dunes, Hoosier Slide was mined for use as land fill and in glass making.  By the 1920's, nothing remained of the giant dune.

Once Indiana's most famous landmark, Hoosier Slide was a huge sand dune bordering the west side of Trail Creek where it entered Lake Michigan. At one time it was nearly 200 feet tall, mantled with trees. Cow paths marked its slopes and people picnicked upon its crest. With the development of Michigan City, the timber was cut for building construction and the sand began to blow, sometimes blanketing the main business district of the town on Front St., which nestled near its base.

Climbing Hoosier Slide was very popular in the late 1800's with the excursionist crowds who arrived in town by boat and train from Chicago and other cities. The summit, where weddings were sometimes held, afforded an excellent view of the vast lumberyards which then covered the Washington Park area.

When it was discovered that the clean sands of Hoosier Slide were useful for glassmaking, the huge dune began to be mined away. Dock workers loaded the sand into railroad cars with shovel and wheelbarrow to be shipped to glassmakers in the U. S. and Mexico. Much of the sand also went to Chicago in the 1890's as fill for Jackson Park and for the Illinois Central RR right-of-way. Over a period of 30 years, from about 1890 to 1920, 13 1/2 million tons of sand were shipped from Hoosier Slide until the great dune was leveled. NIPSCO acquired the site for use as a generating plant in the late 1920's.

Old Lighthouse Museum
(west of the Washington Park entrance of Trail Creek)

The Old Lighthouse Museum is probably the most historic structure left in Michigan City. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum preserves Michigan City's past.

The building was constructed in 1858 by the U.S. government to provide navigation aid to ships on Lake Michigan. Over the years Michigan City's beacon became known as "Old Faithful" because of the conscientious services of its lighthouse keepers. The most famous of these lighthouse keepers was Harriet Colfax, who worked for 43 years until her retirement in 1904. Extensively remodeled in 1904, the lighthouse served exclusively as quarters for the keeper and his assistant; the beacon light had been moved to the pier lighthouse in the late 1880's.

The Coast Guard took over the lighthouse service after the death of the last lighthouse keeper in 1940. In 1965, the Michigan City Historical Society leased the building from the city, restoring and establishing a museum in the lighthouse. The Old Lighthouse Museum is open to the public for tours.

Washington Park Zoo and Lakefront 

Life Saving Service

Captain Allen Kent (center) of the U.S. Life Saving Service and his eight man crew were sources of pride to city residents at the time of this 1902 portrait.  In 1915, the forty year old Life Saving Service became part of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Until 1891, when Mayor Martin T. Krueger managed to secure the land between Lake Michigan and Trail Creek for $7,500 through political finagling and the building of a bridge, the people of Michigan City had no access to the lake front.

As soon as the park became a reality, people began to donate trees and plants to the city for park beautification. The Civil War Memorial at the entrance to Washington Park was placed there by John H. Winterbotham and dedicated on Decoration Day, 1893. John H. Barker paid for a bandshell and a picnic peristyle.

The beach, grassy picnic areas, band concerts and an amusement area soon made the lake front popular with Michigan City residents and excursionists during the 1900's.

During the Roaring 20's, many improvements were made in Washington Park. The Oasis Ballroom was built (probably in front of the present concession stand) in 1922 for dance-mad Chicagoans and Michigan Cityites. All the big name bands played there as well as the local groups.

The Zoo was begun in 1928, financed and built by area residents. During the 1930's the park and zoo expanded into what we see today. Such government relief programs as the WPA sent almost 2,000 unemployed workers into the park to build the stone benches, zoo buildings and the Observation Tower, and to landscape Yankee Slide, a tree-covered sand dune. On April 9, 1934, 10,000 pine trees were planted by 5,000 school children around the Observation Tower. Some of these trees can still be seen.

By the 1960's much of the WPA work was showing its age and a funding drive, utilizing private and public monies, was begun to renovate and expand the park and zoo.

Both Washington Park and the zoo are open to the public. Parking, a beach and picnic sites are available.


Swimming was almost impossible in the heavy woolen bathing costumes stylish at the turn of the century.  These properly attired bathers were content to sedately wade and splash at the foot of Hoosier Slide.  Originally, men and women had used separate bathing beaches.

horse & wagon

An unknown photographer captured a wagonload of joyful dune residents in the early 1900's.  Although lakefront cottage construction did not boom until the 1920's, many homes built of scrap lumber had earlier been scattered among the sand hills.  Snarltown, a thriving red-light district south of Hoosier Slide, had long attracted many to the dune area.

Michigan Central Depot and Vicinity
(Washington Street and the harbor)

This now abandoned structure was the third depot of the Michigan Central (Penn Central) RR. The original depot, built in the 1850's, was located on the opposite side of the tracks.

It was in front of that depot that the funeral train bearing the body of Abraham Lincoln stopped at 8:25 A.M. on May 1, 1865. The train halted under a 35 foot memorial arch which had been constructed over the tracks. The arch bore sayings in honor of the president and was decorated with flap, evergreen boughs, and choice flowers.

The people of Michigan City were able to enter the funeral car to pay their last respects to the great man before the train continued on to Chicago and eventually Springfield, Illinois.

The second Michigan Central depot, located approximately at the site of the present depot, burned in 1914. A large freighthouse and handsome passenger depot built in 1856 by the Monon RR were a block further west across Franklin St. To the north, at the harbor on the east side of Franklin St., stood a large complex of engine repair shops, turntable, and roundhouse of the Michigan Central. Once a familiar landmark at the harbor, the engine repair shop building, built in 1851-52, was on the National Register of Historic Places until it was demolished in June, 1978.

The railroads, along with the harbor, once played a major part in the economic activity of the town. Now only the tracks and the small depot remain as evidence of their prominence in our past.

The grain elevator at the harbor was built by Cargill, Inc., in 1956. For a time the company shipped out tens of thousands of tons of soybeans by large commercial ships. Grain ships, along with those transporting salt to be used on highways during the winter, were the last large commercial vessels to use the Michigan City harbor.

Michigan Road Marker and Town Square
(Michigan Boulevard and Washington Street) 

The historical marker on the southeast corner near the courthouse commemorates the passage of the Michigan Road, which ran from Madison, Indiana, on the Ohio River, to Lake Michigan at Michigan City. It terminated at the corner of Michigan Blvd. and Wabash St., giving all the communities along the road access to the harbor. Completed in the mid 1830's, the road was the main route north-south across the state.

The present LaPorte County Circuit Court Building stands on the north end of what once was the original Town Square. Set aside by Isaac C. Elston, the founding father of Michigan City, this square block was used as a park and as an open air market for various goods and farm produce. The square was later divided into lots and sold to help finance the purchase of part of Washington Park.

Michigan City Public Library
(East 8th Street, now the Blank Center for the Arts)

The former Michigan City Public Library on 8th St. was the result of a $5,000 bequest in the will of George Ames. Quickly, prominent citizens organized a committee to establish a library. The building was finished in 1897, one-third of the cost being paid for by John H. Barker.

The old library is constructed of Indiana blue Bedford stone with a magnificent marble interior graced by 3 large stained glass windows. The library provided good service to Michigan City until it became obvious in the 1970's that the space was inadequate.

In1977 the new Michigan City Public Library opened at 100 E. 4th St. Designed by Helmut Jahn of C.F. Murphy Assoc., a Chicago firm, this unique structure features translucent walls and a central courtyard, and has won a design award from the American Institute of Architects.

The new Michigan City Public Library building provides more space and services to the residents of the area, while the old building has been converted into a community arts center.

St. John's Hall and 400 Block
(Franklin Street)

The 400 block of Franklin St. contains almost all that remains of early Michigan City. These are the last High Victorian Italianate commercial buildings left in the old business district. Many of these buildings were built in the 1870's and used new construction techniques such as cast iron for the bracketed pediments at the tops of the buildings and around the windows. Other structures used the more traditional stone sills.

The finest example of this Italianate style in Michigan City is St. John's Hall or St. Johannes Verein, the 3 story brick building in the middle of the block. Built in 1877 by German immigrants, the building housed stores and a meeting hall for the Germans. An interesting detail is the cast iron pediment showing two clasping hands and the name St. Johannes Verein at the very top of St. John's Hall.

Site of the First Log Cabin in Michigan City
(Southeast corner 5th and Franklin Streets, near Citizens Bank)

An historical plaque marks the reputed site of the first log cabin built in Michigan City. It was constructed in 1832 by Jacob Furman, assisted by B.F. Bryant.

Franklin & 4th Streets

Shortly after construction of the Leed's Bldg. in 1902, the owner's pride compelled him to film the view from his second floor window.  Looking east along 4th St. from Franklin Street, the camera records the presence of the McNulty Brothers Livery Stable in the old Congregational Church and of Elston School next to it.

Congregational Church
(Northwest Corner 6th and Washington Streets)

Many of the area's first settlers were from New England, one of the homes of Congregationalism. In 1825 a congregation was formed. The first church stood about where the new Michigan City Public Library is now. In 1881, the present church was constructed. In 1907 the structure burned and was rebuilt in 1908, a part of the money coming from a legacy of Mr. Fred Haskell of the Haskell-Barker Car Co.

The bell in the steeple is believed to be from the 1843 or 1844 church. The colors of the bricks and the stained glass in the windows blend well together and make for a very handsome Gothic-style building.

Palm sisters

The bright hopes and expectations which highlighted this period are reflected in the portrait of the Palm sisters of Michigan City.

Trinity Episcopal Church and Barker Hall
(Southeast Corner 6th and Franklin Square)

The first Episcopal church to stand on this site was a wooden Gothic-style structure built in 1858. In 1886, John H. Barker erected Barker Hall next to the church in memory of his children from his first marriage. Barker contributed a large part of the cost toward the construction of the present Romanesque-style church in 1889.

Michigan City became a cathedral city when Trinity Episcopal Church was named the cathedral church for Bishop White of northern Indiana. Barker Hall was rebuilt in 1929 by Catherine Barker Hickox.

Henry House
(Southeast Corner 7th and Pine Streets)

A beautiful example of the Neo-Jacobean style, the Henry House was built in 1904. The date of construction is rather late for this style but the builder A.J. Henry of the Henry Lumber Co., probably used the men and materials of his own company to build his home in a style he had admired. The stained glass window on the north side of the house is particularly beautiful.

The Henry House is classic Neo-Jacobean design and may have been built directly from an architect's pattern block. This is a private residence, not open for tours.

The Brewery
(Michigan Boulevard between 8th and 9th Streets)

From 1871 until 1934, the Zorn Brewery was located in this building. The Zorn Brewery produced 15,000 barrels of beer annually, supplying the saloons on Franklin St and in the surrounding area with liquid refreshment. During Prohibition, soda pop was made. The brewery has since been converted into office space.

The spring-fed well which supplied water for the brewing process is still in the building. Weidner's Tavern, on W. 9th St., was once the Zorn Brewery stables.

Barker Civic Center
(Northwest corner 7th and Washington Streets)

This Jacobethean style mansion was the home of Michigan City industrialist, John H. Barker. Extensively remodeled and refinished in 1905 by Chicago architect Frederick Perkins, the house is a monument to the style of living of the great American industrial barons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The interior of the house, with its wealth of wood and marble, is an imitation of an English manor home. Given to Michigan City in 1968 by Catherine Barker Hickox, the house is a memorial to her father. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public for tours.

The YMCA building, diagonally opposite the center, was one example of John Barker's generosity to Michigan City: The industrialist contributed 1/2 of the $100,000 cost of the building. The YMCA has since relocated to the south of Michigan City and the Old YMCA building has been now demolished.

Haskell-Barker Company shop

Final assembly of the Haskell-Barker Company freight cars took place in the Erecting Shop.  Only one of six departments in the huge plant, the shop was housed in a building over 1500 feet long.  The entire factory occupied 100 acres.

Pullman Standard Factory Site
(Wabash Street from 4th to 8th Streets)

The importance of this factory to Michigan City's economy can be seen from the size of the site. Makers of railroad cars, the firm was begun in 1852 by three men from New York. In 1855, John Barker, an established Michigan City grain dealer, joined the firm which then became the Haskell-Barker Car Co.

In 1869, John H. Barker took his father's place in the firm where his use of ruthless business techniques and the importation of labor from Turkey, Syria and Poland caused the company to expand rapidly. Haskell-Barker was employing 500 men and producing 1,000 freight cars a year by 1879.

In the early 1900's the industry was the most complete factory for the construction of freight cars in the United States, manufacturing 10,000 cars annually.

The M.C. plant also employed the largest number of workers of any Indiana manufacturing firm. More than 3,500 men worked in the car shops, earning $12 for 72-hour work week. Many west side homes were painted boxcar red or refrigerator car yellow. Haskell-Barker was purchased by Pullman-Standard in 1922.

During WW II Pullman-Standard manufactured sleeper cars for Allied troops. Labor troubles and other problems forced the factory to close in the 1970's. In 1973 most of the 100 acre plant burned.

Haskell-Barker workers  

By 1908, the Haskell-Barker Car Company produced 15,000 cars annually and employed 3500 men.  Many earned $12.00 for their 72 hour work week.

German Methodist Church 
(8th and Buffalo Streets)

This small brick church was built in 1889 by German Methodists living on Michigan City's west side. Undoubtedly, many of the men worshipping at this church worked in the nearby Haskell-Barker Car Factory. There is a stone marker bearing the name of the church written in German under the main window.

Sacred Heart Church
(1001 West 8th Streets)

Located on Michigan City's west side, Sacred Heart Church was built in 1916.

The parish is mainly Catholic Syrians who came to Michigan City in the early 1900's to work in the foundry of the Haskell-Barker Car Factory. At one time, Michigan City had the largest Middle-Eastern population in the United States.

The first mosque built in the United States, the Asser El Jadeed Temple, was constructed by members of the Syrian and Lebanese Moslem community opposite the present police station. In the early 1920's, the Asser El Jadeed ("The New Generation") became a social and religious center for Middle Eastern descendants throughout the Midwest.

Indiana State Prison

Built by 150 convicts, Indiana State Prison North was completed in 1868.  It quickly became a Michigan City point of interest.  One of the city's three streetcar lines ran to the prison entrance and tours of the facility were popular with excursionists.  Many bought picture postcards showing the convicts in their striped uniforms.

Indiana State Prison
(Chicago Road opposite Hitchcock Road)

The second state prison was located in Michigan City in 1857 to help relieve an economic slump which was affecting many of the city's industrial firms. Convict labor could be contracted for as little as 30c a day, making it very attractive to businessmen seeking to cut their production costs.

The convicts constructed the prison and, when it was finished in 1868, several of Michigan City's cooperage and wagon making firms were within the walls. Since Michigan City was a major lumber port during this period, many of the firms using convict labor worked with wood, such as the Ford & Johnson Chair Factory. The use of prison labor was finally made illegal in 1904.

Today the inmates are employed in various prison shops. 50c tours of the prison were popular with excursionists coming to Michigan City by boat and train during the 1800's and early 1900's.

The streetcar tracks which once brought carloads of these visitors to tour the prison at the turn of the century still cross Willard Ave. before its intersection with Chicago Road.

St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception Church
(West 10th and Buffalo Streets)

In 1867 the two Catholic parishes in Michigan City combined, building this church on the site of the old Catholic cemetery. In 1886 a school and convent were constructed.

The church, while one of the oldest church structures in continuous use in Michigan City, has been extensively remodeled over the years. The parish has been mainly German and Irish. St. Mary's is the mother church of all other Catholic parishes in Michigan City.

Hutchinson House
(220 west 10th Street, now the Spiritualist Church)

This large house was built for William B. Hutchinson. Mr. Hutchinson came to Michigan City in 1867 and became a pillar of the community: mayor from 1876-1878, state senator from 1880-1888, and founder and president of Citizens Bank. The house, Neo-Jacobean in style, has been extensively remodeled since its construction in the 1870's or 1880's. The carriage house and servant's quarters are still in the back of the house on 11th St.

Culbert house

Houses reflect in brick, stone and wood the social position of their owners.  This Neo-Jacobean structure stood at 732 Pine Street and was the home of the Hon. Uriah Culbert: state senator, bank director and a moving spirit behind harbor improvements.

Porter-Kerrigan House
(Northwest corner 10th Street and Washington Boulevard)

Built in 1895, this house is a combination of the Romanesque and Neo-Jacobean styles. The original owner, Charles Porter, became the manager of the Haskell Barker Car Co. in 1879. In 1877, he had married Jennie Chamberlain, niece of Mr. Haskell. The couple became well-known for their hospitality. This private residence is not open for tours.

St. John's Evangelical Church
(Southwest corner 9th Street and Franklin Square, now the Canterbury Theater)

On May 14, 1856, the congregation of this former church was established under the name of the German United Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Congregation.

This structure, the second housing the congregation, was dedicated in 1867. During 1875 a schism developed in the congregation and St. Paul's Church was formed. In 1882 the schoolhouse to the west of the church and the parsonage on the north side of the building were built. German was spoken in the school and until 1919, was used for all church services.

During the 1960's, the congregation, which has remained strongly German over the years, moved quarters to the south side of Michigan City. The church building was converted into a summer stock theatre.

Bridge collapse

On June 24, 1910, the excursion steamer "United States" backed into the Franklin Street bridge while being towed to her berth by a tugboat.  The bridge immediately collapsed, sinking the tug up to the smokestack.  Built in 1906, the bridge had always been notoriously cranky, frequently refusing to open or close.  A new bridge was built one year after the accident.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church
(Northeast corner 9th Street and Franklin Square)

Constructed in 1876, St. Paul's had been organized one year earlier after the minister and part of the congregation of St. John's Church split off from the rest of the congregation because of religious differences.

Some animosity lingered on between the two churches and they were known to interrupt each other's services by pouring water in the basement windows. One of the oldest houses of worship in Michigan City, the building is still in use as a church by the St. Paul congregation.

Colburn office

In an age when architectural flights of imagination abounded and houses were embellished with tasteful wooden accents, it was only fitting that the office of A.R. Colburn, Michigan City's formost lumber merchant, should be lifted out of the ordinary by fancy lettering.  It was equally fitting that the building be of brick.

South Shore Station
(11th Street between Franklin and Pine Streets)

Constructed in 1908, the South Shore Line ran between South Bend and Chicago by way of Michigan City. It was one of several electrically-powered interurban trains connecting cities all over the Midwest. The company was totally reorganized and rehabilitated in 1925 when railroad tycoon Samuel Insull purchased it and built the present station in Michigan City. New cars were acquired and older ones were enlarged and remodeled. These are the same cars used into the late 1970's.

The 11th St. tracks are similar to those which once marked streets in cities all over the country. The Depression and the automobile drove most of the electric trains out of business, but the South Shore survived. It is presently the only remaining electric interurban train running in the U. S.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church
(Northeast corner Washington and Ann Streets)

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is one of the many ethnic churches in Michigan City. Until 1890, the 90 Polish families attended church at St. Mary's of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. In 1891, Father Emmanuel Wrobel was authorized to form a Polish Catholic Congregation. The church was built in 1892 in imitation of the huge churches of Europe.


The city's first steam engine was purchased in 1883, two years after a plan was formulated to put the fire department on a semi-professional level.  The acquisition of the gleaming pumper and the installation of alarm boxes in 1887 made the city's fire department as modern as any in the nation.

Michigan City band

Organized in 1869 as a drum and bugle corps, the city band became known as the Ames Second Regiment Band after local philanthropist George Ames took a personal interest in the group.  Since then, the Ames Band has delighted thousands with their lakefront concerts.

Central School

Ames also donated a great deal of  time and money to Michigan City's Central School, landscaping the school grounds at 8th and Springs Sts. with intricate designs of trees and shrubs.  The Italianate structure burned in 1896.  George Ames also willed $5000 towards the creation of a public library.  The city's athletic field, Ames Field, was named in memory of this man.

Greenwood Cemetery
(Tilden Avenue)

The original Greenwood Cemetery lay on the hill now occupied by Elston School. The land had been deeded to Michigan City by Major Elston as a public burying ground. At that time considered to be out in the country, the cemetery was a popular site for Sunday afternoon walks and kite-flying.

In 1865, the cemetery was moved to its present location and named for Jane Greenwood, the first person to be buried there. One of the most historic graves is that of Abijah Bigelow, a Revolutionary War veteran thought to be one of the original Minutemen. He died on Oct. 23, 1842, at the age of 92 and was buried in the original Greenwood Cemetery. Most of the prominent families of Michigan City are buried here and it is interesting to see how the competition for social position and recognition is carried on even to the choice of tombstones.

Greenwood Cemetery is actually four cemeteries in one: the public Greenwood cemetery, a Moslem cemetery, the Catholic Calvary cemetery in the southern section, and the Jewish cemetery in the northeast section.

Karpen employees

By WWI, the factory method of production had greatly replaced the practice of skilled workmen hand-crafting fine objects.  Photographed in 1916, these Karpen Furniture Company employees worked at one of the few Michigan City factories using trained craftsmen and still in operation.

Battle of Trail Creek
(A historical marker in Memorial Park on Liberty Trail)

After the British burned an American-occupied fort at Cahokia, Illinois, a small group of about 16 Frenchmen and Americans living at Cahokia plotted a surprise attack on Fort St. Joseph at Niles, Michigan. This group, led by Capt. Hamelin and Lt. John Brady, easily captured the British garrison at Fort St. Joseph.

While they were returning, a group of British soldiers and Pottawattomie Indians pursued and overtook the raiding party somewhere near Trail Creek, on December 5, 1780. The Americans were badly defeated in the battle.

The Memorial Park marker honors those who died in this skirmish. The park itself came into being after World War I, when Mayor Martin T. Krueger donated a tract of woods to be known as Memorial Park in honor of the 19 Michigan City men who died in the war.

Memorial Park is also the site where Father Marquette, the great French Jesuit missionary, preached to a group of Pottawattomie Indians in 1675 upon his return from Chicago to St. Ignace in upper Michigan, just before his death. Marquette Spring, near Friendship Gardens, is named for him.

International Friendship Gardens

A collection of gardens representing several nations of the world, the International Friendship Gardens was established just after the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago. Here, on over 100 acres in the valley of Trail Creek, are growing typical plantings from all over the world.

Dedicated to world peace, love and understanding, Friendship Gardens is a lovely spot to amble around in for an afternoon and browse among the flowers.