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 - Other County Sites




 

Alpine Sport Club
Beatty's Corners Cemetery
Bootjack
Carmel Chapel
Coolspring Township Institute Hall
Door Prairie Barn
Door Village
English Lake
Fish Lake
Foster Cemetery
Hanna
Hesston Gardens and St. Paul's Monastery
Hudson Lake
Island in the Grand Marsh
Joliet Road
Kankakee State Fish and Game Area
Kingsbury
Kingsbury Industrial Park
Kingsford Heights
LaCrosse
Lake Shore Drive
LaPorte County Historical Steam Society
Lemans Academy
Lemon's Bridge
Low Cemetery
Maple Grove Methodist Church and Cemetery
Mill Creek
Miriam Benedict Memorial Cemetery
Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery
Morgan Cemetery
Mt. Baldy
Nickel Plate Cemetery
Norton Cemetery
Oak Grove Chapel and Cemetery
Old Channel of the Kankakee River
Otis
Pinhook
Pinhook Bog
Pitner Ditch
Plum Grove
Posey Chapel Cemetery
Reed-Eahart Cemetery
Roeske Mill
Rolling Prairie
St. John Lutheran Church
Salem Chapel and Cemetery
Sauktown Church
Schoolhouses
Springville
Stillwell
Tracy
Union Mills and Wellsboro
Wanatah
Waterford Inn
Westville
Wozniak-Forrester-Goldring Road


Mt. Baldy
(off U. S. 12 at the Porter-LaPorte County Line; National Park Service sign on U. S. 12 will direct you there)   

One of the largest open blowing dunes in Indiana, Mt. Baldy is constantly changing and moving inland with the wind. Almost all of the dune country in LaPorte County has been converted to residential use, but at Mt. Baldy nature has been allowed to continue its work. From its summit there is a good view of the harbor, the NIPSCO plant, downtown Michigan City, and the State Prison. All of the area between Mt. Baldy and the harbor was once huge dunes, including Hoosier Slide at the mouth of the harbor. These sand hills were mined away in the early 1900's.

Sheridan Beach

The Wellnitz family built the first beach cottage in the early 1900's.  Other cottages were quickly constructed, many by vacationing Chicago residents.  The beach development, with lots selling from $250 to $300, extended along a sandy Lakeshore Dr. to Stop 5.

Lake Shore Drive
(northeast of Michigan City)   


This beachfront drive is perfect for gawkers. It begins in Washington Park, bordering the grassy walks and picnic area that was once a collection of wooden shanties. After passing the zoo complex, Lake Shore Drive enters the residential community of Sheridan Beach (Bus stops 1-14). The first beach cottage was not constructed in this area until the early 1900's; even then the owner was considered eccentric for wishing to live among the windswept sand hills. Opinion of the beach did not improve until Mayor Krueger's development of Washington Park in the early 1900's. Cottages then slowly began to be constructed, many by wealthy Chicagoans who wished to summer in this area. Out-of-town visitors began crowding the beaches and by 1920 the Sheridan Beach Hotel was thriving. The development of Long Beach (Stops 14-31) boomed as the popularity of the automobile and electric interurbans increased. With the car and train, the employee no longer had to live near his job: he could commute to work. The sand hills were soon crowned with cottages built by wealthy Chicago and area residents. Many of these summer homes were designed by architects such as John Lloyd Wright. Although lot contracts included stringent business and residential restrictions, Long Beach residents enjoyed a lakefront dance hall and a country club golf course and swimming pool. Long Beach also had its share of notoriety as the Chicago gangsters and mob figures built lavish and well-guarded summer retreats here in the 1920's. Planned as a permanent residential area, it was not until the 1930's that Long Beach cottage owners began converting their summer homes into year-round residences. The cost of maintaining two separate establishments had become too great even for the wealthy. Construction increased after the Great Depression, extending along the beach into previously untouched sand dunes and Duneland Beach and Michiana Shores were developed. Like Sheridan Beach and Long Beach, these year-round communities reflect the continuing trend in lakefront living.

RoeskeMill

The Roeske Mill dam generated power to turn the huge griststones of the flour mill.


Roeske Mill
(southwest corner of Johnson Rd. and Michigan Boulevard along Trail Creek)   


One of the first requirements of the Pioneer farmers settling in LaPorte County was the construction of a mill where they could have their grain ground into flour for baking or have lumber sawn for building construction. Because of its position in LaPorte County and its reliable water supply, Trail Creek had many mills located along its length. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Roeske Mill. The mill had a long, complicated history. Begun by Christopher Roeske in 1880, the name actually was used for a complex containing the Roeske flouring mill and brickyard. Christopher Roeske had been born in Germany, coming to the United States in 1864. For a time, he worked on his father's farm and the Michigan Central RR. Eventually he learned the brickmaking trade in the Charles Kellogg brickyard and in 1868 he started his own brickyard. In 1875, he bought a brickyard and John Walker's sawmill on the banks of Trail Creek. He and his brother August built a flouring mill on the sawmill site in 1880. Known as the Eureka Flouring Mill the building was five stories high including the basement, with a capacity of grinding barrels of flour a day. While the Roeske Brothers' mill ground buckwheat flour, cornmeal and feed grain, their best known product was the "Bumble Bee" brand of flour. The millpond stretched all the why from the mill dam near Michigan Blvd. to Waterford. On the north side of Michigan Blvd. across from the mill dam were the Roeske Brickyards. The yards were able to produce 30,000 bricks a day and many streets and buildings in the county were built of Roeske bricks. Due to a combination of unknown factors, both the Roeske brickyard and flouring mill vanished. During the 1920's the buildings were destroyed, though one can still see remnants of the dam and mill pond along the banks of Trail Creek.

Springville
(Highways 20 and 39)   


The town got its name from a large spring of pure, cold water which flowed in great abundance. Springville, settled in the early 1830's, was once an important, busy community on the well-traveled Michigan Road. Like many other towns in the county's history, Springville in its early days had great expectations for future prosperity. In its heyday the people talked freely about the prospect of the town becoming the county seat. But in 1852, when the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana RR laid its tracks to LaPorte and bypassed Springville, the townspeople became discouraged and made no more effort to promote the growth of the town. The Springville Free Methodist Church on the corner of Springville Rd and Hwy. 39 was built in 1891. The cemetery here is very old, with several German tombstones.

Waterford Inn
(Wozniak and old Johnson Roads in Waterford, just to the south of I-94)
   

Until the 1960's there was actually two Waterford Inns. The first inn was a two-story structure built about 1838 as an inn and stagecoach stop on the LaPorte-Michigan City run along the Union Plank Road (now Johnson Rd.). From 1838 until 1865, the Waterford Post Office was located in the old inn. The two story, red brick building with the double bay windows, which was once known as the Waterford Inn, was probably built after the Civil War and used as a saloon. The advertisement for cigars can still be seen on the sides of the building. During the 1960's the original Waterford Inn was destroyed by fire with all its furnishings. The second inn is now an apartment building.

Coolspring Township Institute Hall
(2 miles south of 1-94 on Johnson Road)   


By the beginning of the 20th century in America, rural folks no longer outnumbered those living and working in cities. Although over 95% of the county lands were in farms, the number of farmers had dropped during the years following the Civil War. Many were displaced by the switch to machinery; a trend which continued as farmers mortgaged land to buy the reapers and combines necessary to produce enough food to feed the ever-growing urban population. To help county farmers produce enough for both subsistence and market sales, land-grant colleges such as Purdue University developed Farmer's Institutes. Providing instructors from the agricultural or home-economics department staff, the Institute brought a diverse array of topics for study by farmers. For a nominal fee, each farmer could attend a program at the local schoolhouse where he would learn the latest treatments for corn blight and cow T.B., machine care and market analysis, as well as enjoy musical entertainment and pot-luck dinners. These Farmer's Institutes, begun in LaPorte County in 1918, continued to provide research data to area farmers for many years until replaced by county agricultural offices and private farm services. Built in 1928 with $7,000 raised during 12 years of food sales, membership fees, and cash contributions, the Coolspring Township Institute Hall is used today for social and political gatherings, Farm Bureau meetings, and theatrical performances.

Low Cemetery
(Johnson Road and 625 W)  


Daniel Low, one of the pioneers of LaPorte County, deeded a portion of his land for a "public burying ground" in 1837. A land speculator and fruit grower, Low became involved in helping slaves escape from the south into Canada. The runaways were smuggled onto grain boats at Michigan City's harbor where they were transported to Canada. If Low or other members of the underground railroad felt they were being watched, the slaves were taken by wagon to New Buffalo, Michigan, where they were picked up by boats enroute to Canada. Candles were lighted atop the widow's walk of Low's home as a signal for safe transport. Sometimes the wait for clearance was a long one and the slaves were used to weed and dig potatoes at Low's farm. Buried in unmarked graves in this "burying ground" are two slaves who became ill on their journey northward and died while hidden in Low's care. Possibly 150 slaves were helped to freedom by Daniel Low and other county members of the Underground Railroad. Also buried in this cemetery are many Civil War veterans, members of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). It was never necessary to draft any men for this war from Coolspring Township as all the quotas were filled by volunteers. Some of the markers of the war dead are on upright boards indicating unknown soldiers.

Pinhook Bog
(Wozniak Road, 1/2 mile north of the Indiana Tollway and 1/2 mile south of 125N)   


Considered by many to be the finest example of a bog in the state, Pinhook Bog is one of the most outstanding natural areas in northern Indiana. The bog was originally a lake which had filled a depression in the Valparaiso Moraine about 16,000 years ago. Since then it has almost completely filled in with bog vegetation, including tamarack trees, highbush blueberry, and leatherleaf. Several rare and unusual plants flourish here, many restricted only to bog habitats. The bog is now owned by the U. S. Government and is part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This is no place for the timid or the lame. You will sink up to your knees in muck and have to walk through a foot or more of water on slippery boards to get in, as well as battling mosquitoes and deer flies. However, for those interested in nature and willing to put up with a few minor hardships, it is well worth visiting. Mr. Jack Jackman, who formerly owned part of the bog, is the unofficial caretaker and keeps a register of all the visitors who come to the bog. The board trail through the bog begins behind his house on the east side of Wozniak Rd., the only house on that side of the road adjacent to the bog. Please park on the road shoulder.

Wozniak Road-Forrester Road-Goldring Road

These winding county roads provide enjoyable drives through some of LaPorte County's many farms and orchards. The drive is especially beautiful when the roadside woods are ablaze with color. Wozniak Road, built as the Southern Plank Road from Michigan City to the Kankakee River, now runs from Waterford south to Pinhook on Hwy. 2. Once used extensively by farmers bringing wagonloads of grain to the market at Michigan City's harbor, Wozniak Road is now a major thoroughfare for homeowners who have built modern ranch houses where barns once stood. Much of the suburbia which lines this road has claimed acres of rich farmlands and thriving fruit orchards but there are still several family-owned orchards in the area with fruit to sell in season. It is because of moderating lake breezes that LaPorte County is one of the major producers of fruit in the state. The warm breezes lengthen the growing season, allowing farmers to cultivate the apples, peaches, pears and cherries for which the county is noted.

By turning east on 275N, Forrester Road and, further east on the same road, Goldring Road can be reached. Both are tree-lined and wonderfully winding roads. Swedish immigrants settled in this area in the years following the Civil War, attracted by the hills and forests reminiscent of their homeland. The Swedes first logged the area, clearing the hills of rich stands of timber and milling the wood for lumber. Later these hills were planted with oats, corn and other crops. Cucumbers were raised to be sold to the pickle factory in LaPorte. Machinery was almost useless for working sloping fields and man and horse labored to pull reapers, discers and wagonloads of crops up the hills. Most visiting between the scattered families was done in the winter when sleighs could glide smoothly over the snow and ice-packed roads and fields.

Carmel Chapel
(east of Garwood Orchards on 50S)   


As did other communities of peoples isolated by language and beliefs as well as location, the Swedish settlers built a church where they could meet and worship and show the young the ways of the old country. Built in 1872, the church still serves the people of this community as a religious center. A Swedish cemetery adjoins the Lutheran chapel.

Beatty's Corners Cemetery
(opposite the intersection of Highway 421 and 50 N on Highway 421)
   

The cemetery is named for John Beatty, who settled in 1833 at Beatty's Corners, located 1/2 mile north of here near the junction of Hwy. 421 and 100 N. Beatty was with a company of soldiers going from Detroit to Ft. Dearborn to take part in the Black Hawk War. When he got out of the army he returned to LaPorte County and, with the help of another man, built a saw mill at Beatty's Corners to exploit the tremendous stands of timber that once covered all of Coolspring Township. The town of Beatty's Corners (first known as Beattyville) never amounted to much. Laid off in lots in 1842, the town once had a blacksmith shop, wagon shop and hotel, but these soon went out of business and Beattyville became a ghost town. John Beatty, his wife Sarah, and two children are buried in the cemetery.

Otis
(1/2 mile west of Highway 421 on Snyder Road)


Settled in 1851, this town was christened Salem Crossing by the Michigan Southern RR along whose tracks the community grew. By the time the village was platted in 1870, it was called LaCroix, courtesy of the Monon RR. The town served as an important station during the Civil War since all soldiers from northern Indiana were required to travel by Monon troop trains south from LaCroix. The community bustled with the arrivals and departures of troops and the hotels and merchants thrived on the needs of soldiers for rooms, food and store goods. It was also along the Monon that the funeral train of the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln traveled to Illinois. Although the funeral cortege was not scheduled to stop at LaCroix, the crowd which had gathered around the refueling train was so large that the officials allowed the waiting people to view the body of the fallen president. After the war, LaCroix was still called Salem Crossing by some; to eliminate the confusion, the town was given the name of the district congressman, General Packard. In 1872, Packard himself suggested the name of Otis. The town today is a small community of farmers and commuters.

Post Office
(Snyder Road)

A post office brought recognition to a town by attracting merchants with the idea of capitalizing on the fact that the area farmers would come to that town for mail service. Built in the 1870's, the Otis Post Office is one of the oldest buildings in town.

St. Mary's Catholic Church and Cemetery
(Snyder Road)


As a railroad junction, Otis had been the home of a number of railroad workers. In the 1860's, a group of Polish immigrants settled in Otis and began to clear or acquire farmland. Perhaps these immigrants had raised money to buy this land by working in the Haskell-Barker Car Co. of Michigan City or the Studebaker Corp. of South Bend. Hundreds of Polish immigrants earned their first American paychecks working as cheap labor for these and other factories. As soon as they could financially afford to escape the factory and city, many would pursue their first dreams of becoming landowners. The group of Poles who arrived in Otis after the Civil War were attracted by the region's similarity to their hometown of Posen. Soon Otis was known as a Polish community, one of the many ethnic-based neighborhoods and towns which characterized LaPorte County. The community was made complete by the construction of St. Mary's Church in 1873, the first Polish church in Indiana north of the Wabash River. The present church was built in 1918. On the hill behind St. Mary's is the church cemetery, a silent record of the people who traveled so many miles to a place of their own.

OtisTrainWreck

Train wrecks were common occurrences.  Even impact with a stray cow could derail some of the nation's very first trains.  On May 2, 1893, a Louisville, Indianapolis and New Albany (Monon) engine wrecked when a bridge washed out near Otis.  A photographer appeared and the curious crowd posed amid the debris for this formal portrait of the disaster.

Reed-Earhart Cemetery
(350S, west of Holmesville, Road)   


Deeded to the inhabitants of New Durham Township by Joseph Reed and William Eahart in 1837, this pioneer cemetery has close ties with Miriam Benedict Memorial Cemetery. William Eahart's wife, Sarah, was Henly Clyburn's (Miriam Benedict's son-in-law) half sister. J. B. Howard and Samuel Johnson,who came from Michigan to help build the Benedict cabins and subsequently settled here, are also buried in this cemetery. An unusual double-faced tombstone, on one side the inscription and on the other a portrait of a woman and child, can be found here.

Pinhook
(Highway 2 and Wozniak Road)   


Originally known as New Durham, Pinhook is the oldest town in New Durham Township. The town sprang up around a mill constructed here in 1834. As early as 1837, New Durham had grown into a thriving little village. By 1854, the town included several stores, a hotel, blacksmith shop, tailor shop, cobbler, doctor, harness shop, and wagon factory. New Durham had a jealous rival only 1/2 mile away at a settlement called Flood's Grove. The two communities resorted to name-calling to disparage each other - New Durham began calling Flood's Grove "Squatham" while Flood's Grove called New Durham "Pinhook", a name that stuck. When the Monon RR reached nearby Westville in 1854, Pinhook went into decline as Westville began to grow. Many of its buildings were moved to Westville and the pioneer town of New Durham ceased to be a place of importance. In 1847 the Methodists built the Pinhook Community Church. Located on Hwy. 2, it is the oldest standing church in the county. In 1966 the Northwest Methodist Conference deeded the property to the Pinhook Cemetery Association which is now (1978) raising money for its restoration. A very old cemetery is adjacent to the church.

Door Village
(Joliet Road, southwest of LaPorte)   


Door Village is one of the most historic places in LaPorte County. Situated on the Sauk Trail (now Joliet Rd.), the great east-west Indian trail, Door Village saw Indians and pioneer wagons pass by in the early days. In 1831, Arba Heald built the first cabin on the village site. There were only two cabins in Door Village in 1832, one of them vacant, but there were many settlers living on the adjacent Door Prairie. In May, 1832, the Indian agent at Ft. Dearborn in Chicago sent word to Arba Heald that the Sac and Fox Indians led by Chief Blackhawk were on the warpath in Illinois. Since these Indians often passed through Door Village on the Sauk Trail it was feared that they might invade northern Indiana. Heald alerted the settlers living around Door Village and most of them gathered there to decide on a course of action; fear of the Indians caused some settlers to flee eastward to Ohio. The 42 men who remained erected a fort about 1/2 mile east of Door Village for the protection of their families. Completed in 3 days, the fort was 125 feet square, consisting of a ditch, earthworks and a palisade of sharpened logs with two blockhouses. Fortunately for the Door Prairie settlers, the Indians retreated beyond the Mississippi River rather than toward Canada along the Sauk Trail. After the Black Hawk War scare, the area around Door Village began to fill up as settlers came to farm the prairie. A Baptist church was built in 1840 and several businesses were started in the village. As time went by, Door Village was overshadowed by LaPorte as a commercial center.

Methodist Church and Cemetery
(Joliet Road)


While the present church is new, the original church was erected in 1832 and was the first Protestant chapel north of the Wabash River. There are two Revolutionary War soldiers, three War of 1812 veterans and many of the early settlers buried in this cemetery. An unusual feature is the number of white bronze markers.

Door Village Fort Historical Marker
(1/2 mile east of Door Village on the north side of Joliet Road)


This marker commemorates the location of the fort and includes a brief history of the structure as well as the names of the fort's builders.

I.M. Evans Home
(between 35OW and Long Lane on the south side of Joliet Road just east of Door Village)


This 1877 farm house is a fine example of the ltalianate Style. The handsome brackets under the eaves, the well-preserved porch, and the segmented arch windows are all typical of the style. The tablet over the door with the owner's name is somewhat unusual. This private home is not open to the public for tours.

Joliet Road
(from Westville to Door Village) 
  

The Joliet Rd. was once a segment of one of the Ernst important Indian Trails in the Midwest, the Great Sauk Trail. This trail began in Canada east of Detroit, crossing southern Michigan and northern Indiana and then continuing west across Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas. It was a main route for long-distance Indian travel. In LaPorte County the Sauk Trail passed just south of Hudson Lake and then went through the present-day towns of LaPorte, Door Village, and Westville. Later, in the early 1830's, the segment from Detroit to Westville was upgraded into the famous Chicago Rd. or the Chicago-Detroit Rd. Presently, the Joliet Rd. passes through beautiful rolling farmland. Before this land was converted to farmland, much of it was virgin tallgrass prairie, with its flowing ripples of tall grasses and colorful wild flowers tossed by the wind. Large areas of the central or southern parts of LaPorte County were originally prairie, but today it is almost totally gone; the prairie soils now support fertile fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans. But in Indian times the prairie wildflowers flourished in wild profusions of color, topped by 6 foot stands of big bluestem and Indian grass, over which roamed bison, elk, coyotes, and wolves.

Westville

WestvilleMainStreet 

Sidewalks were much higher than street level to allow graceful descents from high-wheeled buggies.  The telephone poles lining Main Street were installed when Westville residents received phone service after 1904.

Settled in the late 1830's, the town of Westville was not platted until 1851 with the completion of the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago RR. Once in competition with New Durham and Beaver Dam, the railroad established Westville as a grain shipping center and the community grew as the area's agriculture intensified. By 1876, the town was a leading commercial center of the county, offering residents their choice of attorneys, bakeries, gunsmiths, livery stables, well-drivers, express agents, wagon manufacturers, plasterers, harness makers, insurance agents, carpenters, and hotels. The school system was one of the county's finest. From 1860 to 1872, the Laird School, a private high school famous throughout the Midwest, enrolled 100 students annually. The city's location on one of the county's major thoroughfares allowed the community to prosper after rail shipping was replaced by overland truck routes. Westville thrives today as a commuter center, part of the labor base of Valparaiso, LaPorte and Michigan City.

Eva Smith House
(Jefferson Street and Clybern Avenue)


This two story brick home built in 1879 is a fine example of the ltalianate style of architecture, characterized by the use of brackets, segmented window arches and an unobtrusive roof. A private residence, this home is not open for tours.

IOOF Lodge
(Main Street)


Organized in 1853, Westville's Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge is one of the county's oldest lodges. This lodge hall was built in 1868 with a $5,000 legacy from Daniel West, a prominent citizen of the town. The lodge, constructed in the ltalianate style popular for city buildings after the Civil War, is one of Westville's oldest buildings.

United Methodist Church
(Main Street)


When Reverend James Armstrong, the county circuit rider arrived in 1832, there was already a congregation of Methodists worshipping in private homes of the area. The first Methodist Church was built in 1843 and replaced by the present structure in 1868. The construction of the brick building was made possible by Daniel West's $5,000 bequest to the church.

Lincoln Marker
(along the Monon tracks on the north side of town)


In 1865, the funeral train of the martyred president Abraham Lincoln stopped for refueling at the Westville station on its way to Springfield, Illinois.

Westville Depot
(northeast corner of tracks)


Built in 1853, the Louisville, New Albany and Chicago RR boosted Westville's economy by attracting settlers with the promises of rail delivery and shipment of produce and goods. The Westville depot is one of LaPorte County's oldest and best preserved railroad buildings.

WestvilleLairdSchool 

Westville's Laird School offered a 19th century progressive education.  Laird students mastered astronomy, chemistry, Latin and geology.  Opened in 1860, the Laird School closed twelve years later with Professor Laird's entry into LaPorte County politics.

Westville Cemetery
(Highway 6, just west of town)


Some of the first settlers of LaPorte County are buried in this sprawling cemetery, including Henly Clyburn and his second wife Elizabeth Concannon Sherry. Clyburn entered the county in 1829 leading a party consisting of his first wife Sarah and her family, headed by Sarah's mother, Miriam Benedict. Clyburn was the first to build on the future site of Westville.

Norman Beatty Memorial Hospital
(Highway 421, just south of town)


Built in 1951, the state mental hospital was the largest employer of Westville residents. Beatty Memorial, consisting of 50 main buildings and 16 residence units for staff members' families, has since been acquired by the state prison and is in the process of conversion to high security facilities for prisoners needing psychiatric help.

Miriam Benedict Memorial Cemetery
(U.S. 6 between 800 W and 900 W, east of Westville)   

Originally named Union Chapel Cemetery, it was rededicated in 1971 as Miriam Benedict Memorial Cemetery in honor of one of LaPorte County's first white settlers. The Benedict family, Stephan, Miriam and their six children, originally settled in Illinois after traveling from New York State along the Erie Canal. They located near Ottawa where Sarah Benedict married Henly Clyburn and Stephan Benedict died in 1828. According to Illinois law of the time, the Benedict children would have had to have been placed for adoption. Henly Clyburn suggested that the family move to Indiana where the soil was good and there were no such adoption laws. The family arrived near the site of Westville on March 15, 1829, with 15 inches of snow on the ground. Two young men came from Berrien, Michigan, the nearest settlement, to help build their cabins. Descendants of the Benedict family still live in the county. This cemetery is rather pleasant. There is an unusual tombstone in the eastern end of the graveyard portraying a weeping woman leaning on an anchor. Miriam Benedict and several of her descendants are buried here, as are two veterans of the War of 1812, eight Civil War soldiers, and one Spanish American War veteran.

Union Mills and Wellsboro
(800S and 400W)  

UnionMillsCemetery

Farmers sold rich cream-topped milk daily to local dairies for resale to city dwellers.  Some, like the Union Mills Creamery, had direct rail access to Chicago and other urban areas.

In 1832, Joseph Wheaton built the first house on the site of Union Mills. But not until Dr. Sylvanus Everts built his grist mill on Mill Creek in 1838 did Union Mills begin to grow. Soon there was a blacksmith, a cooper, a wagoner and other professionals living in Union Mills. Local commerce received a boost when the Grand Trunk Western RR came through Union Mills in 1872. Three years later the Baltimore and Ohio RR was built north of town, followed by the Pere Marquette. The town of Wellsboro soon grew at the crossing of these railroads. For a time Wellsboro expanded rapidly and it was thought that it would become a large industrial town with its excellent rail connections and open land. But probably due to land owners who wouldn't sell, Wellsboro ceased to grow. Eventually Union Mills extended northeast to meet Wellsboro., Union Mills and Wellsboro have had several farm related industries as well as several booms and busts. In 1910 the officials of the Chicago stockyards were considering locating the yards in Union Mills; the railroads and the open fields made it an ideal location. But the owners of the land wouldn't sell and the stockyards remained in Chicago. The most successful business in Union Mills/Wellsboro was the Hunding Dairy Co. Located on Long Lane and the Baltimore and Ohio RR tracks in Wellsboro, the dairy was the largest industry in the area. About 50,000 gallons of milk (or $2,000) a day were shipped to Chicago by area farmers. It went out of business in the early 1950's. Union Mills remains a pleasant town with several fine houses on its maple tree shaded streets. One mellow red brick house is across from Weaver Funeral Home (a former Methodist Church) on Union Street. There are several houses in Union Mills and Wellsboro with these same round-cornered windows, probably the work of Union Mills' two brick masons during the 1870's and 1880's.

Mill Pond Park

This 20 acre park was created by the Union Mills Conservation Club and landscaped by the WPA in the 1930's. The pond and dam are the remains of the 1838 grist mill which virtually created Union Mills and gave the town its name.

UnionMillsGroupPicnic

In the seemingly innocent days before WWI, the picnic became a time-honored institution.  Friends and families gathered in the local woods or park to exchange gossip, eat home-made preserves, and perhaps sit for a portrait.  This group from Union Mills honored the occasion by dressing in their most stylish clothing.

Bethel Presbyterian Church
(Union and Hamilton Streets)


This 1892 Neo-Jacobean church was for many years the only church in Union Mills. The congregation was begun in 1851.

Wesley College
(Union and Hamilton Streets)


At one time this 1896 Richardsonian Romanesque building was the high school for Union Mills. With school consolidation in the late 1950's, the school was closed and the students bused to South Central High School. The building is now occupied by Wesley College, a small 4 year liberal arts school.

Bethel Presbyterian Church
(Union and Hamilton Streets)


This 1892 Neo-Jacobean church was for many years the only church in Union Mills. The congregation was begun in 1851.

Wesley College
(Union and Hamilton Sts.)

At one time this 1896 Richardsonian Romanesque building was the high school for Union Mills. With school consolidation in the late 1950's, the school was closed and the students bused to South Central High School. The building is now occupied by Wesley College, a small 4 year liberal arts school.

Wanatah
(Highways 421 and 30)   


Wanatah received its impetus for growth with the coming of the Monon and Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago RRs in the late 1850's. The promise of railroad jobs and the prospect of a thriving market center caused many of the early settlers to relocate to the site. The trains brought many newly-arrived German immigrants both as workmen and passengers and soon German was the language of the streets and schools. Platted in 1865, Wanatah quickly overshadowed the earlier towns of Bigelow Mills, Haskell Station, Roxelle and Morgan. Farmers shipped their corn, cattle, wheat and wild marsh hay from the warehouses and traded in the general stores. Lumber was cut and sent by rail to larger markets. Frogging, hunting, trapping and fishing were all available on the surrounding prairies and marshes. With the construction of major roads through the area, Wanatah continued to prosper as a commercial center. Today, its growing population supports an economy based on agricultural operations and business services.

Wanatah Railroad Depot

Railroads transformed the small farming community of Wanatah into one of the area's leading market centers.  In the early 1900's, the depot was the hub of the city's activities: farmers arguing with grain merchants over the price of corn; salesmen arriving to entice the shopkeepers with the latest of the big city's delights; passengers waiting to begin journeys to Chicago or Pittsburgh; and groups of men and children dreaming about the gleaming engines.

Monon Depot
(south of Cross Street along Monon tracks)

The New Albany and Salem R.R, later known as the Monon, was completed in 1853 and a station and freight house were later built along the tracks. Watertanks and coal docks near the town served as fueling stations for the locomotive and as job opportunities for Wanatah residents. Many traveled to Michigan City's lakefront attractions by way of the Monon excursion trains, boarding the train at the Wanatah depot.

Old Town
(2nd and Main Streets)

With the arrival of the railroads, Wanatah's potential as a marketing center was quickly capitalized on by craftsmen merchants and speculators and the streets were soon lined with shops boasting the latest dress-stuffs, tobacco and farm implements from Chicago. The antique store on the southwest corner of 2nd and Mains Sts. is a remnant of these shops which once provided the isolated farm family with many of the necessities and luxuries of the day. The false front building, over 100 years old, would probably not have been painted by its original owner either. The buildings on the corner diagonally opposite the shop have been remodeled but still retain atmosphere of a town where sidewalks were a few feet off the ground so descent from a high wagon was easily made and hitching posts accented the streets.

Wanatah

The town's businessmen met nearly every need of the farmer and resident.  On busy days, shoppers searched in vain for an empty hitching post along the dirt streets and wooden sidewalks of a turn-of-the-century Wanatah.

Wm. F. Hunt Memorial Park
(Cross Street)


This picnic area was named after the editor and publisher of the Wanatah Mirror, Wanatah's weekly newspaper from 1899 until 1963. Hog Creek, which winds through the park, flooded the town in 1908 after a mill dam which the creek flowed through failed, causing Hog Creek to back up and flood its banks. Boats floated down Main St. that week.

Wanatah Christian Church
(Illinois and High Streets)


This Gothic-style church, built in 1889, was originally one block east of the present site. It was moved and extensively remodeled in 1914. It was once very common to move buildings. They had been carefully constructed and were expected to stand for many years.

Wanatah Junior High
(High and Main Streets)


Constructed in 1914 as the Wanatah High School, the building is now in use as the junior high school for Cass and Clinton Townships. Wanatah students were bused to the larger consolidated South Central High School in the late 1960's. With the removal of their own high school, Wanatah and other similar county towns lost a community center which had once helped to bind the population together.

Sacred Heart Church
(E. Cross and Ohio Streets)


As all the county churches, the Sacred Heart Church is a monument to the builders as well as the beliefs. Built in 1887 by German Catholics, the beautiful Gothic-style structure represented their successful transplantation into the new world. The building on the right was constructed in 1888 as the priest's rectory. The building on the left was built in 1888 as a schoolhouse in which German was the spoken language. The Sacred Heart Church has changed little structurally in the years since it was proudly erected.

Nickel Plate Cemetery
(2.4 miles south of Highway 30 on 900W)   

This burial ground attests to the German heritage of Wanatah and the surrounding farm community. The Nickel Plate Cemetery, so named because the Nickel Plate tracks (New York, Chicago and St. Louis) adjoin the lot, is about two well-kept acres. Many of the pre-1920's tombstones are inscribed in German, a practice dropped along with the use of that language in religious services because of anti-German sentiment during the first World War.

Morgan Cemetery
(1400S between 750W and 700N, near Hanna)   

This cemetery is all that remains of the towns of Morgan and Callao. Settlement of the area was hampered by the marshy ground. Though the first settler of Morgan moved there in 1844, the town got started when the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago RR (now the Pennsylvania RR) came through in 1857. Wm. A Taylor, who surveyed and plotted the town, ran the local grain warehouse for the area farmers, many of them Germans. By 1861, Morgan had absorbed the nearby town of Callao, begun in 1857 in anticipation of the railroad which finally built a depot 1/2 mile east at Morgan. The cemetery is located about one mile south of the ghost town of Morgan on the nearest high ground. Morgan was very successful for a short time, but the nearness of Wanatah finally killed it as a commercial center.

St. John Lutheran Church
(3 1/2 miles south of Hwy. 30 on 900w)   

The history of this church dates back to 1858 when German settlers in this area met at various schoolhouses and private homes to celebrate their religion. In 1869 the congregation constructed a modest frame church south of Wanatah. This church is now a storage building behind the present St. John Lutheran Church built in 1915. The church cemetery, located across 90OW, is well-preserved with many German markers.

LaCrosse
(Highways 421 and 8)   

One of the most recently formed towns in the county, settlement in the LaCrosse area was inhibited by the presence of the very wet, marshy conditions. Almost all of the region was Kankakee marshland, supplying marsh hay in abundance. The dried stalks of the wild marsh grasses were the area's major crop until reclamation. LaCrosse first started to develop in the early 1860's with the completion of two railroads, which helped to bring in settlers, chiefly German immigrants. Many of the first buildings were situated on the highest ground available: the railroad rights-of-way. Houses were built on stilts because the town was flooded with every rise of the river; old-timers recall walking on Hwy. 8 in hip boots. These conditions changed after the marsh was drained. The wild marsh hay lands were transformed into extremely fertile corn fields, yielding today as much as 160 bushels per acre. LaCrosse has remained primarily a small farming community, in spite of the presence of 4 railroads (formerly 5) passing through it.

LaCrosse Depot
(just south of Highway 8 on 421 at the Pennsylvania tracks)


A second depot on the C & 0 tracks burned in 1977.

LaCrosse High School
(Michigan Street, one block east of Hwy 421)


Built in 1915, it is one of the oldest high school buildings in the county still being used as a high school. An elementary department is also included in the school.

St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
(Lowell and Dominic Streets, at the northwest corner of town)


The church began very early in the history of the township, before 1860. The present building was erected in 1931, after an older building, built in 1914, burned.

LaCrosse Grain Elevator
(east of the depot along the Pennsylvania tracks)


Once corn and wheat began to be raised in quantity in the area, a grain elevator was needed to store the crops. The Bailey Elevator, the first of four, was built in 1903 and later burned. The present LaCrosse Grain Elevator was built in 1956.

Pitner Ditch
(from Highway 421, turn east on 2300S and go 1/4 mile to a small bridge crossing the ditch)  

The Pitner Ditch is a good example of the numerous drainage ditches that lace the southern third of the county. Before settlement by white men, this whole area was part of a great marsh called the Grand Marsh of the Kankakee. The Grand Marsh formed a swath of rich wetland which bordered both sides of the Kankakee River for most of its length through northwestern Indiana, covering scores of square miles in southern LaPorte County. The Kankakee, about a mile south of here, flooded this land much of the year and provided a vast, watery habitat for incredible numbers of fish, waterfowl, fur-bearing animals, and other wildlife. In the late 1890's and early 1900's, a systematic effort was undertaken to drain the entire marsh for agricultural use. Large drainage ditches were cut through the marsh and the Kankakee River was deepened and straightened to increase runoff. The ditching converted one of the most famous and productive wildlife paradises in the world to some of the richest farmland in the state. As you drive around the southern part of the county, you will see many other ditches.

Old Channel of the Kankakee River
(one mile east of Hwy. 421 along 2300S) 
   

As you drive along on 2300S you will be next to one of the old channels of the historic Kankakee River. Originally, the Kankakee slowly wound its way in countless bends and turns. The straightening of the river in the early 1900's cut off these bends and left them as isolated quiet backwaters. A few still contain water, such as this one.

Marsh Hunting

By 1916, much of the wildlife paradise of the Grand Marsh of the Kankakee had been converted into rich croplands.  In its pre-ditching days, one marsh hunter could have easily bagged all the game shot by these latter-day sportsmen.

Island in the Grand Marsh
(take Bigler Road southeast from 2200S along 2 sets of railroad tracks) 
  

On your left you will see a partially wooded hill rising above the general level of the land. This is a fairly good-sized example of what was once a wooded island surrounded by Kankakee Marsh. Such islands dotted the marsh before draining, providing convenient camp sites for Indians who once roamed the area and later for hunters, fishermen and trappers who, like the Indians, were attracted by the abundant wildlife.

Alpine Sport Club
(west side of Bigler Rd. Between 2200S and 2300S, north of English Lake) 


Built by wealthy sportsmen in 1869 or 1870, the Alpine Sport Club is the only hunting lodge left along the Kankakee River. During the late 1800's, the Grand Kankakee Marsh was a world famous hunting ground, teeming with waterfowl, fish, opossum, raccoon and other animals. Dozens of hunting lodges stood in the marsh for the use of rich American businessmen, such as Marshall Field of Chicago, and European nobility. The Alpine Sport Club was located in the heart of the marsh along a channel of the Kankakee, since dried up, and was unusual in having a direct rail connection with Chicago. Trains used to stop in front of the lodge in its heyday. At one time there were perhaps a dozen boathouses in a ring near the main building; only one of these remains today. Only part of the entire hunting lodge complex is left: the main lodge, the dining hall, one boathouse, and the winecellar. Although no longer in use, the main lodge is in excellent shape. Three stories in height, this lodge was used as sleeping quarters for the club members and still contains many of the original furnishings. The small building across from the main lodge was the club's dining hall. The wine cellar is behind this building. The Alpine Sport Club finally closed in the 1930's, partly because of the Depression and partly because ditching and the subsequent draining of the Kankakee Marsh had destroyed the area as a wildlife habitat. The present owner lives with his wife in the old dining hall. Tours of the hunting lodge may be given upon request.

English Lake
(from 2300S take 650W south toward the town of English Lake in Starke County)   
  

You will immediately come to four closely spaced bridges that cross four channels with wooded banks. These are respectively, from north to south: the Tuesburg Ditch, the Kankakee River, the Yellow River, and the Kline Ditch. These all merge a few hundred yards to the west. To the east, the Kankakee once broadened out into a large shallow lake, called English Lake, which drained away during reclamation. This was a favorite hunting and fishing area for sportsmen from all over the United States and Europe.

Kankakee State Fish and Game Area
(access where Hwy 8 intersects the Kankakee River, 7 1/2miles east of LaCrosse)   


This state game area preserves some of the Kankakee bottomlands. To the south of Hwy. 8 you can walk along the dikes of the straightened Kankakee through wooded bottomlands. Although not completely natural, these probably look quite similar to those originally found along much of the old Kankakee. Bird-watchers will especially enjoy this area, where large numbers of ducks and song birds may be seen, especially in spring and fall.

RumelyOil

Dr. Edward Rumely increased the Rumely company annual sales from $1 million to $38 million with his development of the Oil-Pull tractor in the 1910's.  One of the nation's first liquid fuel powered tractors, 'Kerosene Annie' helped to transform much of the western prairies into fertile wheat fields.  The kerosene burning behemoth was shipped by rail and freighter to all parts of the world.  This massive Oil-Pull is pictured plowing in southern LaPorte County in the 1920's.

Hanna
(Highway 30)   


Settlement of Hanna Township was slow. Arriving in 1839, the earliest settlers formed small isolated neighborhoods and survived by tilling tiny patches of high ground. The abundant game of the marsh was hunted, fished and trapped using home-crafted boats, traps, spears and gun stocks. Muskrat, mink and otter pelts were sold to the fur buyers who arrived every spring. The town of Hanna itself was not formed until the completion of the Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago RR in 1858. Its location on one of the main trunk lines to the east caused Hanna to flourish as a grain market for the southern part of the county. In 1870 the Chicago and Western Michigan R R laid tracks through the town and Hanna grew as a hay shipping center, sending tons of harvested marsh hay to Chicago and Cincinnati to be used as packing material and livestock feed. With the draining of the marsh, the hay shipping business ended for Hanna as well as for the other hay centers of Wanatah, LaCrosse and Hayville. While the marsh thrived, Hanna was also the frog-shipping capital of the county. In early spring, youngsters would pull the hibernating frogs from the icy marshes. Later the frogs were captured with nets or were clubbed as they leapt out of the path of the hay-mowers cutting the wild marsh grass. Only the frog legs were shipped to the old South Water St. Market in Chicago, kept fresh in hay-packed ice cars for the city's cooks.

Denison Home
(southeast corner of Thompson and Hooper Streets, private residence)


This Gothic-style home was built by Dr. George Denison at the turn of the century. A leading merchant and druggist, Dr. Denison operated a local creamery and owned farms in Indiana, Georgia and Canada. The doctor also harvested hay from 1000 acres of marsh land. The tall bluejoint grass was cut and stacked during summer dryness, baled and stored in Denison's large barn adjoining the railroad in the center of town. From here, Denison bought and sold marsh hay, shipping it by the carloads to the large city markets.

Converted Hotel
(S. Thompson Street, private residence)


Salesmen, or drummers as they were called because they drummed up business, arrived daily in the bustling market of Hanna selling farm equipment, seeds, dry goods, tools and everything else the merchant needed to stock his shelves. Most of the drummers and others who traveled the railroads spent the night in a Hanna hotel much like this one. Here, for 50c or $1.00 and the news of the outside world, visitors were treated to warm beds and simple meals.

Home
(southwest corner Thompson and Hooper Streets, private residence)


This large home is a beautiful example of the Queen Anne or Neo-Jacobean style of architecture. Popular at the turn of the century, the style is characterized by projecting bays, an irregular roof line with many gables and the general feeling of spaciousness.

Methodist Episcopal Church
(Hooper Street)


Built in 1888, the Methodist Church has since been extensively remodeled. Until funds for a church could be raised, the congregation met in schoolhouses and private homes. The lot was donated in 1865 but it wasn't until 23 years later that the church was erected at a cost of $1,160.81.

Hanna Farm Bureau Cooperative
(Moore Street)


In 1975, the Hanna-Union Mills Twp. Farm Bureau Elevator sold $9,564,476 worth of grain for farmers and farmers bought $1,896,265 worth of supplies. The Co-op represents the agricultural base of Hanna's economy; continuing as a commercial center as long as Hwy. 30 passed through town, reconstruction of the road outside of town and the earlier loss of railroad shipping has shaped Hanna into a community of farmers and industrial commuters.

Door Prairie Barn
(1.7 miles south of county courthouse on Highway 35, private property) 
 

It is uncertain why Marion Ridgeway built this octagonal horse barn in 1888. Perhaps he approved of the fashion of eight-sided buildings which spread across the country after being praised in the 1840's and '50's as efficient and healthful uses of space. This barn features 8 stalls, each with its outside entrance, surrounding a central area into which hay was dumped from the second floor loft. The only remaining county example of the octagonal style of architecture, the Door Prairie Barn ranks as one of the more unique structures in the state.

Kingsbury
(just off U.S. 35, south of LaPorte)   


Kingsbury is typical of many small towns across LaPorte County and the Midwest. The town began as a cluster of buildings, including a general store, blacksmith shop and cabins, around the Kingsbury sawmill in 1835. Soon it was a bustling little center of several stores and a post office established in 1839 with biweekly mail service to LaPorte. Competition with LaPorte caused Kingsbury to develop slowly, but hopes for the town's growth were raised when the Chicago and the Lake Huron RR (now the Grand Trunk Western RR) passed through in the 1870's. Kingsbury then became a grain shipping point for the surrounding farms. But the nearness of LaPorte kept Kingsbury from developing into a larger center. The town gained some prominence during World War II when the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant was erected nearby. U.S. 35 was rerouted for plant traffic so that it was no longer Kingsbury's main street.

First Baptist Church and Cemetery
(junction old U.S. 35 and 500S)


The Baptist Church was built in 1851 in the Greek Revival style. The building is very handsome with the pilastered corners (recessed columns) typical of the style. The cemetery is made up of the church's own graveyard and Winchell Cemetery, which was moved from the ordnance plant site.

Depot

Moved from its original site on the north side of the Grand Trunk Western tracks on the south side of Kingsbury, the depot has been converted into an art gallery on the south side of the tracks.

Mill Pond
(500S or West Street)


The meadow to your left as you cross Kingsbury Creek was once the mill pond for the 1835 mill. The red brick building on the west bank was the electrical generating station for Kingsbury.

Kingsford Heights
(Highway 6)   

Constructed in 1942 to provide housing for workers at the nearby Kingsbury Ordnance Plant, Kingsford Heights remains today the commuter town the government developed it to be. The labor needs of the ordnance plant were attracting thousands of workers to the area in the early '40's. Housing was found in nearby cities or in government-constructed dormitories and trailer camps. When more homes were required, over 2,600 single and duplex houses were built on the site of leveled cornfields near Kingsbury. The first residents moved into the Heights in 1943 and the town was soon filled to capacity, but within a few years, Kingsford Heights was practically a ghost town. KOP had closed and its workers began drifting away. The government sold the Heights to a corporation of townspeople who, in turn, sold each individual home to its occupants or other interested buyers. Many of the homes were removed by former KOP workers returning to their native western and southern states and soon the town was marked by sidewalks and electric lines pointing to empty lots. Many of these abandoned sites are still visible although the Heights has enjoyed a recent surge in modern home construction. Some of the original duplex homes stand as they did when first occupied by ordnance workers and the barrack-like center built by the government still serves as the town's commercial center. An interesting contrast to the Kingsford Heights housing is that of the development on OAK WOOD DRIVE (1.9 miles north of the Heights off Hwy. 6; dangerous intersection). These spacious homes, now private residences, were built by government agencies as quarters for the high-ranking military and civilian personnel who operated the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant.

Tracy
(Highway 6)  
 

A station on the Baltimore and Ohio RR, Tracy was settled by German immigrants in search of rich farmlands upon which to build their lives in their new homeland. Dozens of similar towns sprang up across the county as the immigrants worked their ways west on their railroads. The villages they established served primarily, as did Tracy, as a market and social center for the isolated farm community, providing a school, general store and possibly a grain elevator. The pride of the young community was usually its church. The Tracy Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, built in 1875, still stands on Cass Road off Hwy 6. Its adjoining cemetery is lined with tombstones inscribed in German, proof of the heritage of the area.

BigelowMills 

County towns sprang up at mill sites, crossroads or as the result of chance.  In 1835, Abijah Bigelow platted a town in Clinton Twp.  because he wanted to create a city.  By 1861, Bigelow Mills was a cozy little village with a gristmill, harness shop, gunsmith shop and two dry-goods stores.  But the growth of the surrounding towns fortunate enough to have received railroad connections overshadowed that of Bigelow Mills.  Soon it was nothing more than a name from the past.  This fate was shared by many of the county's once-prosperous settlements - Roxelle, Morgan, Willvale, Callao, Beatty's Corners, Wilder and Haskell Station.

Kingsbury Industrial Park
(Highway 35)   


In 1941, one of 73 ordnance plants operating throughout the entire country during the years of the Second World War was constructed at Kingsbury. Chosen for its central location with regard to land, labor, raw materials and railroads, 13,454 acres of rich Kingsbury farmland was transformed into testing sites, barracks, bunkers and dormitories. Over 80 miles of railroad tracks and 134 miles of highway system wound through what had been fields of corn and wheat. The area was soon flooded with job applicants, many of them women supporting husband or fatherless families. Employees were carefully screened before being hired at 70c per hour for women and 90c per hour for men. Buses and trains from cities throughout northwestern Indiana transported the commuters daily. Others boarded in nearby cities or in KOP-constructed housing. By mid-1943, the immediate area labor supply was exhausted and recruiting drives were begun into midwestern, western, and southern states. Blacks and Jamaicans were hired for warehouse duty and the dangerous detonator line. An average production day at KOP saw 180,000 point-detonating fuses assembled, 46,671 40mm high explosive shells loaded and 500,000 complete rounds of 20mm ammunition packed. KOP was one of the world's largest plants for loading ammunition and at its peak production employed over 20,000 workers. Only 4 deaths from explosives were recorded but over a thousand known cases of poisoning from exposure to TNT were treated at the plant hospital. At the war's end, KOP was shut down. The overall costs of the 4 year period had been over 800 million dollars. Its construction and operation had radically influenced the development of the area. This once scattered community of farmers had received the largest number of immigrants to enter LaPorte County since the 1910's. Tensions were heightened by the unfamiliarity of races and creeds. Industry began to locate in the area, attracted by improved roads and railroad systems and a ready labor market; ranch home suburbias housing workers who commuted to city jobs along these roads began to fill the countryside.

Although the KOP facilities were utilized to produce ammunition during the Korean War, the plant complex today is used as an industrial park for concerns ranging from greenhouses to golf-cart manufacturers. The Kingsbury Industrial Park also includes a U.S. Military Reservation used by the Indiana National Guard. The park is closed to visitors but an excellent view of the barracks can be obtained by driving east on 500S off Hwy. 35. By later turning right onto Stillwell Road, many of the grass-covered bunkers used by KOP officials to test and store explosives can be seen behind the barbed wire fences. These areas are off limits due to contamination from the tests. Some of the railroad tracks you cross while driving on Stillwell Rd. are a part of the system of plant railroads used to transport explosives and ammunition throughout the KOP complex. Stillwell Rd. will also lead to the KINGSBURY STATE FISH AND WILDLIFE AREA. Some of the 20 square miles of the ordnance plant was acquired by the department of Natural Resources and is now used as a state-owned hunting, fishing and camping area. Inquiries about license regulations and area facilities should be directed to the Kingsbury State Fish and Wildlife Area, LaPorte, Indiana, 46350.

LloydFamily

In the late 1840's, the Lloyd family left the Pennsylvania Dutch country to settle in LaPorte County.  Here they built a frame house and a four-story banked barn.  The farm is still owned and worked by the Lloyd family, a testimonial to the permanence of many of the county's pioneers.  This portrait, taken in 1894, is representative of the era's photography.  Itinerant photographers traveled the countryside, offering many residents their only chance of being photographed.  Unable to assure good interior lighting, many portraits were taken outdoors.  Often the most valued pieces of china, furniture or toys were included in the once-in-a-lifetime photo.

Norton Cemetery
(turn north at intersection of 500S and 300E - turn west on 450S and go 1/2 mile)   


The earliest burials in Norton Cemetery date to 1838, the year known as the "sickly season". An epidemic, probably of influenza, was sweeping northern Indiana. Entire towns were suffering and the shortage of trained doctors in the young county was painfully felt. Hundreds of residents died in this and subsequent epidemics. Buried among the pioneers in this secluded well-preserved cemetery is the Indian wife of Thomas Stillwell, an eccentric hunter and trapper. Stillwell, like many of the very first whites to enter virgin territory, did so partly because of a strong desire to be freed of white society. Married to an Indian woman, this pioneer would stay in one place only until he saw the smoke from 3 cabins. He then moved on further into the western frontier.

Stillwell
(Highway 104)   


The present town of Stillwell dates to 1870, when a post office was established here. The town is named after Thomas Stillwell, who settled near here in 1832, one of the pioneer settlers of Pleasant Township. He later moved to Oregon when things became too crowded for him in LaPorte County. Before the present Stillwell started, there was a place called Old Stillwell, located about a mile northwest of here along the Nickel Plate RR (now the Norfolk and Western). Here were a store, schoolhouse and dance hall. Old Stillwell became a ghost town when the Grand Trunk RR was put through in 1870, since people began settling at the junction of the two, railroads where the trains stopped. The railroads contributed greatly to the economic life of the new town. The Grand Trunk maintained large coal docks here for fueling the trains from 1874 to 1911. During the height of dock activity, Stillwell's business section was much larger than today. At one time 80 men were employed at the docks, feeding coal and water to the locomotives.

Slack's Grocery Store and Post Office

Although no longer a grocery, the Post Office is still housed in this 100 year old building. It was originally located on the south side of town across from the Grand Trunk tracks and was used as a pool hall, ice house, general store, and barber shop. In 1939 it was sawed in two and moved to its present location.

Gene's Grocery Store

The building is over 100 years old.

Friends' Church

This simple basic structure in the Quaker tradition was built in 1893. Presently without a minister, the church does offer Sunday School.

Salem Chapel and Cemetery
(Highway 4 and 350E, just north of Salem Heights)   

The first Salem Chapel was built in 1853 by Methodists on land donated by J. G. McCasky. The present chapel, built in 1885, remained in use until 1976, when a new Salem Methodist Church was built. It has since been converted into apartments. Over 50 veterans from various wars are buried in the cemetery.

Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery
(2 1/2 miles southeast of Stillwell; located in the Kingsbury State Fish and Game Area, about a mile south off Highway 104 on 675E. There is a sign on 104 pointing out the road)   

Unique in the state of Indiana, the newly-built hatchery is presently the only facility in the state which raises coho salmon, steelhead and brown trout, primarily for stocking in Lake Michigan. Here you can see, in outdoor tanks, thousands of these fish of fingerling size.

Lemon's Bridge
(Highway 104 and the Kankakee River, 4 miles southeast of Stillwell)   

The history of the site dates to Indian times. Before the first white settlers arrived in LaPorte County, the Indians had a ford across the Kankakee River between Mud Lake and Goose Lake (both now gone) where the present bridge is located. Wilderness paths led to the ford from the Upper Wabash River Valley on the south and the St. Joseph River Valley on the north. The Indians would meet at a place in Lincoln Township called Cold Springs where they would pow-wow and hold wild dances. When the first white settlers came up from the south they were told about this Kankakee River fording place and crossed the river here, building rafts to ferry their oxen-pulled covered wagons across. The first bridge at this site was a crude affair, consisting of two flat-bottomed scows which floated end-to-end between two abutments. In 1834 this bridge no longer proved adequate to handle the wagons and the county commissioners gave Mathias Redding a permit to build a large ferry to carry wagons across. This operated until 1840. The commissioners also decided to build a road from the county line to a point on the Michigan Rd. about 5 miles east of Michigan City, where Hwy. 35 now runs into Hwy. 20. This was called the Plymouth Rd. at first, then the Plank Rd., and then the Yellow River Rd. One of the first roads in the county, it followed the route now covered by Hwys. 104, 4, and 35 to Stillwell, LaPorte, and Michigan City. By 1840 traffic on the Yellow River Rd. was too heavy for the ferry since farmers to the south were using the road and ferry to bring large quantities of grain, cattle and hogs to the harbor at Michigan City for shipment to other ports on the Great Lakes. The commissioners made a deal with Major John Lemon to build and operate a good toll bridge, with the county getting a share of the revenue. The new bridge facilitated the passage of ever-increasing numbers of wagons hauling produce along the road, which, because of heavy traffic, was almost impassable at times. The road brought so much business and so many settlers to the county that the commissioners had the road planked so that it could be traveled more easily in all seasons. Tolls were charged to use both the bridge and the road until after the Civil War, when the plank road gave out. The present bridge was constructed in 1935 and is still called Lemon's Bridge.

Fish Lake
(Highway 4 southeast of LaPorte)   


Now a residential and summer home area, Upper and Lower Fish Lake were once the site of a bustling ice business. Before modern refrigeration, large blocks of ice were used in refrigerators to keep food cold. Obviously this ice had to be cut in winter from bodies of fresh water, stored in insulated warehouses, and shipped to where it was needed in the summer. Upper and Lower Fish Lakes were perfect for this industry. In 1888 and 1889, Swift and Co., Chicago meat packers, bought the land around both of the lakes. Construction of 3 huge ice houses with elevators on the outside for the ice was begun in 1889. Two of these buildings were 50 feet high, 250 feet long, and 280 feet wide. A boarding house and horse barn were also built. During the winter work season, 300 to 400 men would be sent to Fish Lake from Chicago to harvest ice for Swift and Co. refrigerators. Horses were used to haul the ice plows which cut the lakes into ice blocks. These blocks were then conveyed up into the ice house and covered with a layer of marsh hay for insulation. In the early 1900's, two of the ice houses were struck by lightning and burned. Until 1930, when ice cutting ceased on Fish Lake, many Swift and Co. employees took their summer vacations here. In 1935, Swift and Co. sold all their Fish Lake holdings. The buildings were torn down and the land staked out in lot sizes. In 1937,the South Town Beach Club bought the land and Fish Lake began to grow into the residential area it is today.

Threshing

Threshing days were backbreaking hours of hot, dusty labor; they were also an eagerly awaited time of communal work and gossip.  The work was greatly lessened by the adoption of mechanized equipment.  The steam tractor engine connected by conveyor belt to the thresher which separated the wheat grain from the chaff.

Mill Creek
(875E and 200S)  
 

First settled in 1835 by a caravan of relatives traveling together from Ohio, the town of Mill Creek was originally called Fish Lake. In 1879, the Grand Trunk RR bought the track running through town and, because there was already one Fish Lake on the Trunk Line, the town was christened Mill Creek after the creek which flows west of town. An important shipping point for wood, hay and grain, Mill Creek thrived as a trade center for the surrounding farmers, boasting general stores, a blacksmith, grain warehouse, dance hall and several saloons. Later a grain elevator and creamery continued to attract the trade of the farm community. The Mill Creek Post Office was established in 1875, later moving to its present location on the town's main street. The Mill Creek office, one of the oldest and smallest in the county, is still outfitted with its original brass mailboxes.

Sauktown Church
(150N and 875W)   

The congregation of the Sauktown Church held services in an old schoolhouse until the present church was built in 1900. Long before this, there was a community here known as Independence. It got off to a booming start in 1837, when the town was platted. The reason for laying out the town was based on pure speculation: Independence was to be at the junction of a proposed railroad crossing Indiana and a proposed canal running from the Wabash River at Logansport to the St. Joseph River. Early inhabitants had visions of great wealth pouring into the town because of these two developments and real estate speculation ran high. But nothing became of either the railroad or canal and by 1856 Independence was a ghost town. It was then that the "town" started to be called Sac Town in disparagement, which later changed to Sauktown. The Sauktown Cemetery is located 1/8th mile further west and then 1/8th mile north on a small gravel road that leads to it. It began in 1840 and most of the earliest settlers of the area are buried there.

Oak Grove Chapel and Cemetery
(600E and 50N)  
 

Oak Grove Cemetery is one of the few county cemeteries which still has a chapel in active use. Henry Vandalsen, a Revolutionary War soldier, and William M. Maple, a War of 1812 veteran, are buried in this pioneer cemetery. Interesting grave stones to speculate about are those on the very fringes of the graveyard almost hidden under the trees. Are they suicides, have the grave stones connecting them with the main body of burials vanished, or are they just ordinary grave stones? The plain chapel was built in 1881, although there may have been an earlier structure.

Rolling Prairie
(Highway 20)  
 

Settled in 1831, the town of Nauvoo grew slowly, hampered both by rumors of the Black Hawk War and the nearness of the rival town of Byron. Located just 1 1/2 mi. to the south on the Chicago-Detroit Rd. (Hwy. 2 and 350N), Byron was the grain storage and shipment center of the area from 1835 until 1852. In that year, railroad tracks were laid north of Byron, signaling the end of that town but the prosperity of Nauvoo. In 1853, Nauvoo was platted under the name Portland. This was changed to Rolling Prairie with the arrival of the post office in 1857. Steam saw mills, a steam flour mill, a wagon shop, blacksmith, stores, churches, and saloons enticed farmers to travel the Michigan Rd. into town. The modernization of this road into Hwy. 20 brought a new influx of restaurants, garages and other traveler-service businesses to Rolling Prairie in the 1920's. With the subsequent construction of the Hwy. 20 bypass, the town settled into having an agriculturally based economy with small light industries and commuting industrial workers.

Community Building
(Depot and Michigan Streets)


Organized as part of the Rolling Prairie circuit of traveling ministers, area Methodists built a church on this site in 1865. It was replaced by the present structure in 1895 after being destroyed by fire. In 1966, the congregation sold the structure to the Lions Club as a community building. Plans are now (1978) being made for the use of the building as the Rolling Prairie Library.

Depot Street

Farm families arrived in town on Market Day, usually a Wednesday or Saturday, to haggle with the merchants about the fairness of prices and to purchase bolts of yard goods and packages of seeds in stores similar to the ones which remain on Depot St. Open baskets of produce lined the raised sidewalks as city customers had their pick of fresh vegetables.

IOOF Building
(Bozek Market, Depot Street)


Churches and lodges were the focal point of organized social life until the automobile era of the 1920's. Lodges were popular in part because they emphasized mutual help and fund-raising events. Meetings were held in second floor halls above a store. Often the building was built by the lodge, such as this 1907 Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall, and rented by the lodge members to the merchant.

First Christian Church
(Oak and Michigan Streets)


Built in 1854, this church is a fine example of the Greek Revival style of architecture, characterized by low roofs, wide entablatures under the eaves and rectangular windows. The predominance of this very early style of architecture in this area supports the theory that many of the first county settlers were migrants from the more populated southern Michigan Territory.

Rolling Prairie Cemetery
(Highway 20 and Michigan Street)


Established in 1835, this cemetery is one of the oldest in the county and contains many well-preserved and interesting tombstones. Four veterans of the War of 1812 are buried here.

FamilyPortraitClothingStyles

A county family gathered its generations together for this portrait, vividly preserving the clothing styles of the early 1900's: buttontop shoes, knicker pants and high collared, long-sleeved dresses.  The small child (left) may be a boy; because they were easier to sew than even short pants, mothers often clothed their young sons in dresses.

Lemans Academy
(500E, 1 mile north of Rolling Prairie)  


LeMans Academy is the latest in a series of schools and camps which have stood on this hill: a progressive boys school, a World War I training camp, a summer camp for children, a novitiate and finally LeMans Academy have all occupied the site. Interlaken School, founded in 1907 by Dr. Edward Rumely was the, first. Developer of one of the first liquid fuel-powered tractors in the country, the Rumely Oil-Pull, Edward Rumely became interested in German educational principles while attending Freiburg University. Rumely believed that education should emphasize practical training and self-sufficiency; when the school was moved to Rolling Prairie from LaPorte, the boys lived in tents while they constructed their own school buildings. Interlaken included an ice house and a farm where the boys had to work in the afternoon at general community work. 125 to 150 boys between the ages of 9 and 18 enrolled yearly at the school, attending classes all morning with free time from 4 to 6 P. M. Guest lecturers at Rumely School included Henry Ford and others prominent in business or the arts. By World War 1, Interlaken School was world famous even though some of its principles and its founder were criticized as being pro-German. After the school closed, the U. S. government took over the grounds for an army training camp, Camp Roosevelt. Often the residents of Rolling Prairie would drive out to the camp to watch the soldiers drill. During the winter of 1917, flu struck; the U. S. Army camps were especially hit and Camp Roosevelt was no exception. The government kept the number of deaths a secret and wagon loads of bodies went through Rolling Prairie at night. Camp Roosevelt closed after the war and the buildings of Interlaken School were used for a summer camp for children from Chicago. Many of the old school buildings were torn down or moved to Rolling Prairie in the ensuing years. In 1932-33, the building which now occupies the site was built by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. Patterned after a monastery near Rome, St Joseph's Novitiate was built as a quiet place of study for those planning to become Brothers of the Holy Cross. After further training these Brothers would be assigned to Catholic schools, delinquent homes, etc., to teach and train youth. The Brothers of the Holy Cross also run LeMans Academy, the school which is now housed in the former novitiate. LeMans Academy began as Sacred Heart Military Academy for boys in Waterton, Wisconsin, in 1955. As enrollment increased, the school was moved to Rolling Prairie in 1968. The purpose of the school is to help boys from grades 5 to 9 of above average ability who are having trouble realizing their potential.

Plum Grove
(in the area where U. S. 20 and Hwy. 2 intersect, about 8 miles east of LaPorte)  
 

At the junction of these two highways was a place known as Plum Grove, because of the many wild plum trees which grew here. The Pottawattomie Indians once gathered and dried the fruit for winter use. In 1832 the U. S. Government bought the Indian lands of LaPorte County and northern Indiana from the Pottawattomies, giving them 6 years to leave. In the next few years many county settlers were buying these lands, called "Indian float lands." In order to give these settlers free and clear title to their purchases, the U. S. Government decided to remove the Pottawattomie under armed escort. In November, 1838, all the Indians remaining in the county were ordered to gather in Plum Grove to be marched to Starke County and then to Kansas. The Indians assembled here and sat huddled in their blankets, sorrowful and dejected, for they did not want to leave. When the march started there was a string of Indians several miles long reaching from Plum Grove to LaPorte. The forced removal of the Pottawattomie was very hard on them, both physically and emotionally. Many died along the way and the journey became known as the Trail of Death.

Bootjack
(Bootjack Road and U. S. 20, 2 1/2 miles east of Rolling Prairie)  


In the 1830's there were two extremely important roads that crossed the northern part of the county. One was the Chicago Road that led from Detroit to Chicago, essentially following an important Indian trail known as the Great Sauk Trail. The Chicago Road entered the county at Hudson Lake and passed southwest to LaPorte. The other road was the Michigan Road, which led all the way from the Ohio River to South Bend and then west to Michigan City. Entering the county near New Carlisle, the Michigan Road ran through Rolling Prairie and Springville and then to Michigan City. Bootjack sprang up at the strategic spot where these two great thoroughfares crossed each other. Both roads carried a great deal of traffic, including many stage coaches that ran between Chicago and Detroit and between South Bend and Michigan City. Bootjack was an important transfer point for the stage coach passengers, mail, and freight. In the early days it had 3 inns to accommodate passengers, a blacksmith shop, a store, a school and several houses. The first railroads put through LaPorte County in the 1850's ended stage coach travel along these roads and Bootjack faded. Hwy 20, from Rolling Prairie to Michigan City, now follows the route of the old Michigan Road; Hwy. 2, from Rolling Prairie to LaPorte, follows the route of the Chicago Road. An historical marker just east of Rolling Prairie on Hwy. 20 at the Sauktown Rest Park commemorates the passage of the Great Sauk Trail through LaPorte County.

GrandmotherFamily

An early 20th century grandmother posed happily surrounded by her daughter and grandchildren.  She had good reason to smile: many children died before school-aged from the frequent epidemics of measles, influenza, whooping cough and polio which swept the area.  Many county residents wore bags of garlic and other herbs around their necks to ward off diseases and disease carrying individuals.

Hudson Lake
(east end of Hudson Lake) 
  

The earliest settlement in LaPorte County was on the east shore of Lac du Chemin or Hudson Lake. Here a group of cabins had sprung up by 1829 surrounding a Baptist mission and school. Established in the late 1820's as a branch of the Carey Mission in Niles, Michigan, the Hudson mission tried to Christianize the native Pottawattomie population while teaching them American methods of farming. The mission remained at Hudson Lake only until the Indians began leaving in large numbers in the 1830's but the surrounding town of Hudson, or Lakeport, continued to prosper. A thriving market center with flourishing businesses, the town was considered a powerful rival of LaPorte for the trade of the northeast part of the county. But after the railroad located its depot at the nearby community of New Carlisle, the townspeople began to drift away. It was not until the turn of the century that Hudson enjoyed prosperity again. A popular summer resort business had built up around the Smith Hotel by the 1890's and the hotel owner constructed the Hudson Lake Casino to attract additional visitors to the town. By the 1920's, the casino was the summertime hangout of wealthy Chicago residents. The South Shore RR brought hundreds of dancers every weekend anxious to sway to the sounds of such big bands as Guy Lombardo's "Royal Canadians" or the South Bend "Indianians". The lake resort also advertised excellent bathing and picnicking facilities and large Chicago and South Bend firms often rented the entire resort for the company outings. The Hudson Lake resort began to decline in the 1930's as the influence of the Depression and competing dance halls was felt. Today the Hudson Lake Casino is used as a private boat storage on Chicago Road. The Hudson Cemetery on 700N is one of the oldest in the county and includes several interesting family plots.

Maple Grove Methodist Church and Cemetery
(1000N just west of 650E)  


This 1869 church and cemetery have a pleasant, though slightly spooky, atmosphere. The church is a cross between the New England style meeting house, especially the steeple, and the ltalianate style, characterized by the ornamental brackets under the eaves. The graveyard is on hilly, uneven ground and is shaded by maple and cedar trees, making it dim and cool in hot weather. There are three War of 1812 veterans buried there.

Posey Chapel Cemetery
(1000N just west of 400E on a High Hill)   

This is surely one of the most beautiful spots in the county with a fine panoramic view of the countryside on all sides. Posey Chapel, built in 1841, stood here until a few years ago, when it burned. The top of the hill is one of the best places to see the rolling glacial hills that cover much of the northern part of the county. These hills that you see on all sides are part of a great belt of glacial ridges which border the entire southern rim of Lake Michigan from Wisconsin, through Illinois and Indiana, and well up into Michigan. The hills make up what is known as the Valparaiso Moraine, created about 16,000 years ago when the Wisconsin Glacier dropped huge quantities of rock rubble here as it retreated northward from southern Indiana. This moraine area is about 10 miles broad in LaPorte County and in places reaches over 300 feet above Lake Michigan. From the crest of the moraine the land slopes down to the sand dunes along Lake Michigan on the north and to the Kankakee River Valley to the south. The northern hills contrast strikingly with the nearly flat land near the Kankakee River which at one time was a vast, broad marsh.

School Portrait

The faces of children remain a constant throughout our lives.  Students at a county one-room school, these well-behaved first and second graders appeared scrubbed and curled for their class portrait in the early 1910's.

Schoolhouses
(1. Hesston Steam Society Grounds, 1000N)
(2. 1000N and 300E)
(3. 700N and 500E)   


Among the earliest structures built by the settlers was a schoolhouse. Constructed with community funds, the one-room log cabin or frame style was heated by a wood-burning stove. Benches were of rough-hewn logs; light filtered through small windows or the open door. The education received by the children was as practical as their schoolhouse. Taught often by an itinerant preacher or scholar, children attended school only when weather and farm work permitted. The lessons in reading, writing, spelling and ciphering were pulled from the few books available, usually Bibles. Teachers were often hired more for their skill with a whip than a book; parents wanted their children to be disciplined farmers and farmwives, not well-read scholars.

The frame or log one-room school was replaced by two or four-room brick buildings as the county's population increased. Pauper schools, as the district schools were commonly called, provided the free public education guaranteed by law. Education became a more uniform experience for students across the country as laws were passed standardizing teaching requirements, methods, courses and books. But schoolhouses such as these or the earlier one-room structures were more than just a place to educate the young. As the center of an often isolated community of farmers, they were the site of political rallies, religious services, box socials and auctions. The neighborhood schoolhouses cited on this tour were abandoned when the availability of better roads and autos allowed the construction of larger central county schools in the 1920's and '30's. The school at the Hesston Steam Society Grounds, built in 1892 as Galena District No. 2, is owned by,the Steam Society. The two-story school on 1000N at 300E has been remodeled into a private residence since its construction in the late 1880's. The Mt. Pleasant School at 700N and 500E, now in partial ruins on private property was probably a two-room school. The small separate rooms at the front of the buildings were cloakrooms for the boys and girls attending the school.

Foster Cemetery
(1/8 mile east of 300E on 900N)   


The Foster Cemetery was deeded by Scipha Foster and his wife Maria Williams to the county "Trustees of Buring Ground" in 1840. Two years later Maria was one of the first to be buried here. Her death at 26, middle-age at that time, was a common occurrence. Pioneer women frequently died young in childbirth, of overwork, or as a victim of one of the frequent smallpox or cholera epidemics. Men often remarried several times in order to be assured of constant help and support in the difficult work of clearing a frontier. Foster's second wife, "Isabella, wife of Scipha, his second consort", is buried here next to Scipha who died in 1885. There are several other pioneer families buried in this beautiful old cemetery with some of the tombstones inscribed in German, the native language of many of the area's first families.

Hesston Gardens and St. Paul's Monastery
(215E, about 1/8 mile north of 1000N)   


Owned, originated, and maintained. by Rev. Joseph G. Sokolowski, O.S.B., the Hesston Gardens is a quiet, lovely spot to walk around in and admire a remarkable assemblage of outdoor flowering plants, shrubs, and trees from spring to fall. The Gardens have a close, intimate, deceptively overgrown appearance as you wander along the narrow winding paths, yet it is tidy and well-kept Rev. Sokolowski himself planted the gardens, as well as many of the trees in the adjacent woods, beginning about 35 years ago. In his residence-museum is a truly remarkable collection of paintings, icons, and other religious artifacts which he personally gathered in Europe. There is also an antique shop. In the nearby pine woods is St. Mary's Chapel where each Sunday Rev. Sokolowski holds masses. The chapel is also filled with ancient icons and paintings that give it an Old World atmosphere. Rev. Sokolowski will be happy to show you all of these things when you call at his home.

The LaPorte County Historical Steam Society
(1000N, west of 125N)  
 

Begun in 1955 by local area steam buffs, the LaPorte County Historical Steam Society is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of our steam powered past. All of the society's steam powered equipment are seen in operation, doing the work they were built for, be it sawing logs, pumping water or hauling railroad cars. The society owns an Advance-Rumely Oil-Pull tractor, one of the many manufactured in this county. The Steam Society is open to the public.