Bendix Woods

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Aerial photo of the track

Bendix Woods County Park is the name of a park located in Olive Township, St. Joseph County, Indiana, south of New Carlisle. The park is under the control of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation Department.

The name Bendix Woods originates from the Bendix Corporation which donated the land to the county for the creation of a park. The park's historical significance, however, dates to its establishment by the Studebaker Corporation, formerly of nearby South Bend, Indiana as the first model test facility for an American automobile company.

Studebaker developed the 840 acres (3.4 km²) of land in 1926 as the first-ever controlled automotive-testing grounds for its product lines, beating Packard, Studebaker's future business partner, by one year. Studebaker heavily promoted the grounds as a "Million Dollar Outdoor Testing Laboratory" in advertisements. The test track that ran through the grounds simulated a variety of terrains and road conditions. Studebaker landscaped the park by keeping natural features. In 1938 the company planted 8,000 pine trees in a pattern that, viewed from above, spelled "STUDEBAKER".[1][2][3]

Tree grove spelling Studebaker.

Following the collapse of Studebaker's U.S. production facilities in 1963, the land was acquired by Bendix Corporation which used the grounds for corporate purposes.

In late December 2004, the "STUDEBAKER" tree planting, recognized as one of the world's largest living advertisements and on the National Register of Historic Places, was severely damaged in a Christmas week ice storm.[citation needed] However, it continues to stand; in 2011 a grant was awarded for its long-term management and preservation,[2] and a management plan was completed in 2012.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Quinn, Richard (2000-09-10). "Growing 'Sign' Made Studebaker's Presence Known". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-08. 
  2. ^ a b Fosmoe, Margaret (2011-11-07). "Grant to Help Studebaker Pine Tree Sign". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  3. ^ a b Gray, Amanda (2013-08-03). "A Piece of Living History". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 

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