Chronology of the Indiana Dunes

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The Indiana dunes have been a cross road of activity since the glacier[clarification needed] receded. Great explorers such as Jacques Marquette and René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle traversed this area. As early as 1862, the area was noted for its unique natural resources. At the start of the 20th century, the dunes were a living laboratory for scientist studying plants, animals, and the changes in the land. The first ecologist (Henry Chandler Cowles) did his pioneering work here.

A student of Cowles, O. D. Frank continued Cowle's studies.[1] A museum honoring his work called the Hour Glass is located in Ogden Dunes.[1] Many citizens and politicians have helped to preserve parts of the Indiana Dunes.[1][2][3]


Date Event[4]
Where primary sources are known, references are shown in the table
c. 20,000 BC Glacial retreat and land subsidence opens St. Lawrence channel to lower lake level; beginning of present dune formations.
1666 Jesuit missionaries, Frs. Allouez, Marquette, Dablon begin to come through area.
1674 Father Marquette pauses on way north, shortly before his death.
1679 LaSalle and Tonti pass through; establish base near St. Joseph.
1750 Little Fort is built by French near site of present Dune State Park
1780 Little Fort abandoned by English; Tom Bradley in the “Battle of the Dunes.”
1803 Lt. Swearingen passes through on the way to establish Fort Dearborn.
1822 Joseph Bailly establishes trading post at southern edge of Dunes.[5]
1823 William Keating, geologist, and Thomas Say, naturalist, pass through with other members of Long’s Expedition.
1827 First U.S. mail route from Fort Wayne to Fort Dearborn thru Dunes is established.
1833 Charles Fenno Hoffman, Charles Joseph Lagrobe, and Patrick Shireff all pass through the Dunes on stage coach, leaving vivid impression in the respective books.
1835 Joseph Bailly dies.[5]
1836 Removal of Indians from Indiana; Harriet Martineau travels through area, recounts her trip in her book, “Society in America.”
1837 Plat of City West recorded; Daniel Webster makes political speech there.
1838 T.B.W. Stockton reports to Congress on the absurdity of the proposed harbor at City West. Accuses the earliest proponents of fleecing the taxpayer for private gain. They sought $150,000 for harbor improvements (the mighty stream to have been developed is now a pipe in the State Park!)
1862 Richard Owen’s geological reconnaissance.
1871 Henry Babcock is the first to mention the flora of the Dunes in his publications; he is shortly followed by the stream of papers of J.M. Coulter, E.J. Hill and others.
1892 Whitechapel club cremation at Miller.
1893 W.H. Leman builds the first “permanent” summer cottage in the Dunes proper.
1896 Octave Chanute begins his glider experiments at Miller, later moving to Dune Park.
1897 Frank Morley Woodruff published the first of many papers on the birds of the Dunes.
1899 Henry Chandler Cowles' classic work on the ecological relations of the vegetation of the sand dunes is published.
1907 George D. Fuller classic work on tiger beetles and plant succession in the Dunes is published; South Shore Electric line in constructed.
1908 First formal hike to the Dunes by predecessor of the The Prairie Club under Jens Jensen, Graham Taylor, Amalie Hofer, and others.
1910 The Dunes become the setting for many early movies; Chicago was then the movie capital of the world.
1911 First of a long series of papers on plant succession and ecology of the Dunes by George D. Fuller.
1912 “Voice of the Dunes” the first of Earl Reed’s charming books on the Dunes is published. Plans for first Prairie Club camp at Tremont; beginning of park agitation.
1913 International Phytogeographic Excursion spends a large share of its time in the Dunes, which are deemed one of the three most interesting areas of the U.S. by foreign scientists.
1915 Diana of the Dunes (Alice Gray) comes to the dunes.
1916 National Dunes Association is formed, A.F. Knotts, president, Mrs. Frank J. Sheehan, secretary. Director of the National Park Service Mather calls meeting in Chicago for Dunes National Park project with overwhelming sentiment in favor of it. World War I prevents its realization.
1919 Marquette Park established
1925 Indiana Dunes State Park established
1966 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore established (P.L. 89-761).
Date Event[6]
1968 West Beach acquired.
1970 James R. Whitehouse, First Superintendent at Indiana Dunes Nat’l Lakeshore.
1972 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore dedicated by official ceremony.
1974 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) constructed first beach nourishment at Mt. Baldy (total 227,000 cubic yards (174,000 m3) or 305,100 tons[vague]). Also rebuilt portions of Lake Front Drive and constructed the Beverly Shores rock revetment. Total cost $3.1 million.
1976 Restoration of Bailly Homestead begins. Congress passed legislation expanding lakeshore boundaries (something to illustrate 4 expansion bills with photos of lands acquired—e.g. Miller Woods) primarily in the West Unit and Heron Rookery (P.L. 94-549).
1977 Nike Base is transformed into park headquarters. West Beach bathhouse, parking area and entrance road opened.
1979 Bailly Cemetery renovated. Bailly Administrative Area headquarters renovated; headquarters staff moves from Visitor Center.
1980 Congress passed legislation further expanding park, principally to accommodate redevelopment plans (P.L. 96-612)
1981 USACOE constructed 2nd beach nourishment at Mt. Baldy (80,000 cu yd (61,000 m3) or 108,000 tons[vague]).
1983 Dale B. Engquist becomes second Superintendent at national lakeshore.
1986 Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education dedicated and opened for public September 14.
1989 Construction completed on new Lake View facility that opened for public use for the summer. Facility included restrooms, picnic area, Lake Michigan exhibits and beach access. Interior restoration of the first floor of the main house of the Chellberg Farm was completed and the facility opened for public use for the first time during the Duneland Harvest Festival in September.
1992 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was officially dedicated in honor of Senator Paul H. Douglas by Senator Paul Simon of Illinois
1993 The park's visitor center was officially dedicated as the "Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center" in recognition of Mrs. Buell's contributions to the establishment of the national lakeshore.
1995 The Dunewood Campground registration building was completed in June and was opened for campers.
1996 USACOE constructed third Mt. Baldy beach nourishment (53,000 cu yd or 41,000 m3). Cost – $1.3 million. In addition, 50,000 cu yd (38,000 m3) were placed by pipeline from hydraulic dredging of the outer harbor at Michigan City ($321,000).
1998 The first phase of construction of the IDELC at Camp Good Fellow was opened for use in October. The first phase consisted of 5 cabins and a multipurpose building. Five more cabins were to be added to use by spring, 1999.
2003 Historic Sears catalog (aka Larson) house rehabilitated for the Great Lakes Research & Education Center


  1. ^ a b c Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2007). The cultural impact of a museum in a small community: The Hour Glass of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 2.
  2. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2006). Alice Gray, Dorothy Buell, and Naomi Svihla: Preservationists of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-11. 
  3. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2009). The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation. The South Shore Journal, 3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 1, 2016. Retrieved 2015-11-22. 
  4. ^ Abstracted from a talk to the Conservation Council in Chicago, March 21, 1957 by Walter L. Necker
  5. ^ a b Howe, Frances Rose 1851-1817, The Story of a French Homestead in the Old Northwest, James Dowd Publishers – Bowie, Maryland 1907 / repub. Heritage Books 1999.
  6. ^ Fortieth Anniversary of Indiana Dunes, Release 2006 Dale Engquist