The County is divided into twelve townships: Boone, Center, Jackson, Liberty, Morgan, Pine, Pleasant, Portage, Porter, Union, Washington and Westchester. Cities are: Burns Harbor / Chesterton / Dune Acres / Hebron / Kouts / Portage / Porter / Valparaiso. The Port of Indiana, a major seaport opens this area for foreign trade vessels via the St. Lawrence seaway and is located in Portage. Valparaiso is the county seat.
CitiesPortage ; Valparaiso
TownsBeverly Shores; Burns Harbor; Chesterton; Dune Acres; Hebron; Kouts; Ogden Dunes; Porter; Pines
Zip Code: 46302 - 46385
Area Code: (219)
|Largest City: Portage (pop in 2007: 36,505)|
|Population per Sq. Mile: 384.1 Sq. Miles: 418.1|
County Seat: Valparaiso
Source: Stats Indiana
|% of County|
|Town of Pines||792||0.5%|
| ||Order by Size|
|Town of Pines|
Porter County Census
|Population (2007)||160,578|| |
|Growth (%) since 1990||24.5%|| |
|Households (2000)||54,649|| |
|Labor Force (persons) (2007)||82,500|| |
|Unemployment Rate (2007)||3.9|| |
|Per Capita Personal Income (2006)||$37,679|| |
|Median Household Income (2005)||$56,496|| |
|Poverty Rate (2005)||8.4|| |
|H.S. Diploma or More - % of Adults 25+ (2000)||88.3|| |
|Bachelor's Deg. or More - % of Adults 25+ (2000)||22.6|
Source: Stats Indiana
Historic Stagecoach Inn, Hebron
The Stagecoach in was the first frame building built in Hebron in 1849, by Mr. McCune. It was originally used as a way station along the stagecoach route between Detroit and St. Louis. After the coming of the railroad in 1836, the Inn continued to serve as a resting place for travelers, as well as for sportsmen who came to hunt and fish along the Kankakee River. Today, the Stagecoach Inn is still in the original location at 127 North Main, and serves as a historical museum.
Mount Baldy, Indiana Dunes in Michigan City
Centuries ago, glaciers, moving and carving the land in their wake, created Mount Baldy and the surrounding area as the Ice Age came to an end. Today, Mount Baldy stands an imposing 123 feet tall and is the largest "living" dune that marram grass and cottonwood trees cannot hold in place. This giant mound of sand actually moves south at a rate of four to five feet each year, burying all woodlands in its path. Mount Baldy is the perfect destination for outdoor activities.
Local legend has it that Dunn's Bridge, CR-500 East Over Kankakee River, is constructed from steel salvaged from one of the late 19th century's most audacious engineering project--the gigantic mechanical wheel designed and constructed by George W. G. Ferris for the 1893 World's Fair. Some have also claimed the bridge came from a 1904 Indiana Building at the St. Louis World Fair. The bridge is owned by the Porter County Parks Department. Source
Orville Redenbacher started his popcorn business in Valparaiso when he purchased the George F. Chester and Son dent seed corn plant with partner Charlie Bowman, later named Chester Hybrids. In 1951 near Valparaiso, Indiana, they tried tens of thousands of hybrid strains of popcorn before achieving success. Redenbacher can be first seen on national television around 1972, long before his well-known commercial appearances as himself promoting his gourmet kernels. In 1976, he sold the company to Hunt-Wesson Foods but continued to promote the product.
Valparaiso is located near the southern crest of a glacial moraine (now known as the Valparaiso Moraine). It came down from the Hudson Bay country it gathered up and pushed along great masses of earth, stone, boulders, gravel and sand, and as its southern edge melted it deposited this conglomerate mass of materials and formed what is known by geologists as the Valparaiso moraine. This moraine extends from northwest of Chicago, completely around the southern end of the lake and up into Michigan northeast of Michigan City. This moraine is in some places three hundred feet high and from eight to twenty miles wide. Source
Diana of the Dunes
Around 1915, the area that is now the Dunes State Park in northern Indiana was mostly uninhabited wilderness. The stories spread around the vicinity of Chesterton, Indiana that fisherman who were along the beach at certain times of the day had been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a naked woman swimming in the lake. The story spread that a beautiful woman was living as a hermit along the beach and her notoriety grew to a point that many compared her to the ancient Greek goddess Diana...hence the name of this legendary creature. In truth, her name was Alice Marble Gray. Read more of her story.
Milan Zima owner of Ad-Craft Sign Company in Portage and his brother Bill, formerly of Gary, Indiana, opened a branch of their business in California called Neon Products, Inc. in El Monte during the 1960's. Zima and Bill won the bid to restore the famous Hollywood sign on Mt. Lee overlooking Hollywood, California in 1973. The job took 15 days to complete by replacing old sheet metal and putting a fresh coat of paint. The job was dangerous and 4 men quit the first day repairing the 50 foot high letters.
Source: Post-Tribune article "Portage man to the rescue of famed Hollywood sign", by Samuel Wyatt, September 7, 1973.
Nike Army Base
A former NIKE Battery C-47 Army base located a mile north of Wheeler and a couple of miles east of Hobart was used to protect our area with missiles and was abandoned by the government in 1972. The area was used by the Porter School system as an environmental education center and driver's ed training. In 1982 the School Corporation returned 20.46 acres (the radar and admin site, Barracks Area) to GSA. The 20.46 acres were subsequently conveyed to a private party. The remaining 14.16 acres (The Launch Area) were utilized by the School Corporation for Drivers Training and Storage until August 24, 1993, when the property was returned to GSA. The School Corporation made beneficial use of the Launch Area over 20 years, June 1973 - August 1993.
The 35 acre site is now privately owned and is used as a paintball park called Blast Camp. Blast Camp field is located at 550 West and 600 North in Wheeler, IN.
Ripley's Believe It or Not featured the story of Leon Noel, born on Christmas Eve 1908 in Valparaiso. He became a hometown celebrity. He died on Christmas day, '99. An Internet search shows that the palindromic name Leon Noel isn't so uncommon.
The Christopher Center for Library & Information Resources at Valparaiso University has one of only 30+ such systems being used in libraries worldwide; VU's system is fifth. These systems are usually used in industry and in distribution. The "robotic librarian" system retrieves stored books, via electronic request and can deliver a book to circulation within 10 minutes.
The ASRS at the Christopher Center has 1872 bins accessed by two cranes. The storage system can hold about 300,000 items; it currently houses about 80,000 items. The Christopher Center also has 10 REAL librarians, 13 REAL staff members, and many library student assistants; although the non-robotic librarians, staff, and students assistants don't get the attention that the so-called robots do, they are infinitely more intelligent, helpful, and charming than either of the robotic cranes.
Source: William H. Weare, Jr.
Access Services Librarian
Christopher Center for Library & Information Resources
Hoosier Bat Company
Sammy Sosa hit some record setting shots in a home run race in 1998 with bats made by the Hoosier Bat Company which is based in Valparaiso. The bat he used to belt no. 66 stands is on display at Cooperstown's National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Did you know that Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas was on the "Gong Show" in 1977 and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott served six years as a nuclear submariner?
First Pioneer Church of Lake County
St. John the Evangelist Church Adoration Chapel
Constructed in 1837 by John Hack.
Company founded in the 1950's was a Gary based record label that was the first in America to sign the Beatles and the Four Seasons. Vee-Jay released the Beatles' "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You" in the United States. They also had several hits with hometown group, The Spaniels, including "Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight."
Indiana/Illinois State Line Boundary Marker
103rd Street at Lake Michigan
Multiple site local landmark consisting of the existing monument and a monument commemorating the original location prior to its relocation to the current site in 1988.
Local landmark designated in August, 2003.
One of the oldest extant structures in Northwest Indiana, constructed in 1838.
The only known marker remaining from the original state line surveys, and one of few similar monuments remaining in the country.
A significant example of early nineteenth-century monument design and craftsmanship in stone (limestone). Source
Historic Lincoln Highway
During the early frontier days, seven trails crossed the country, one of these trails is the Historic Lincoln Highway also known as the old Sauk Trail, which runs through Dyer, Schererville, Merrillville on through Valparaiso.
Read more about the highway at:
According to John Drury who wrote the book 'This is Lake County, Indiana', "when Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting were in their infancy as industrial cities, what is now Gary, largest of all the Calumet Region cities, was but a deserted wasteland of sand hills, marshes and prairies traversed by the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet rivers. In fact, it was so isolated that Octave Chanute, sometimes called the Father of American Aviation, selected it as the site of his pioneering glider experiments during the middle 1890's. It was among the sand dunes (now leveled) of north Lake County that Chanute conducted his successful glider flights and made possible a type of airplane the Wright brothers later equipped with a propeller and motor. A huge bolder in Marquette Park, in northeast Gary, marks the approximate site of Chanute's experiments."
by Richard C. Schmal
Strange and Unusual Facts from the Lowell Tribune
Grandfather Peter Scholl (1818-1909) had his shoemaker shop in Cedar Lake and his grandson William apprenticed there when he was 17 years old. Young William Scholl went on to national fame, specializing in the manufacture of all forms of medications and pads for care of the feet. Some of his tools were donated to the Cedar Lake Historical Society and can be seen at the Lake of the Red Cedars Museum in Cedar Lake, during the summer months.
The Old Homestead
One of the oldest surviving homes "intact" in Lake County, this house trimmed in clapboard was built in 1847 by Wellington A. Clark and is a listing in the National Register of Historic Landmarks. Wellington A Clark arrived in Crown Point during the 1830's from New York State. Clark Street is named after this early family. The Old Homestead is currently undergoing a community-wide restoration.
Source: http://www.crownpoint.net/historichomes.html Located at: 227 South Court Street in Crown Point
The South Shore Line, is "America's last electric interurban railroad," and was originally built in 1908 as the Chicago, Lake Shore & South Bend Railroad. In 1925 it became part of Samuel Insull's transportation and utilities empire and was renamed the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railroad. After Insull's empire collapsed during the Great Depression, the CSS&SB outlasted the other interurbans with the help of significant freight revenues, and survived into the era of government subsidies. The portion of the line in Indiana is now owned by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates passenger service and grants a franchise for freight traffic to the Chicago SouthShore and South Bend Railroad (note no space in SouthShore!). All freight service is now hauled by diesel locomotives.
The Hammond Professionals were one of America's first professional football clubs. Early forms of the team began in 1911 and 1916. They held numerous first records. Many of the early players on the Professionals team came to Chicago with George Halas and formed the Chicago Bears around 1920. Read more here.
Did you know that Alvah Roebuck, of Sears and Roebuck fame operated a watch repair business in downtown Hammond , on Hohman Ave. from 1885 to 1887?
He was born on a farm near Lafayette Indiana. After losing his girlfriend to a school janitor, (Peter Meyn who later became Hammond’s leading banker), he answered an ad in the April 1, 1887 edition of the Chicago Daily News that read:
WANTED – Watchmaker with reference who can furnish tools. State age, experience and salary required. Address T39, Daily News.
Roebuck took an example of his best work to the job interview and was hired on the spot. He moved to Chicago and in 1881 formed a mail order company in partnership with Richard Sears. Not very business minded, Roebuck soon sold his share in the company, and retired to mange his investments and putter with gadgets. Financially ruined by a real estate collapse in the 1920’s, Roebuck returned to work as a sort of roving goodwill ambassador for the giant Sears Corporation. He died in June 18, 1948 at the age of 84.
Sources: Hammond: A Centennial Portrait by Lance Trusty,
Sears, Roebuck, U.S.A.: The Great American Catalog Store and How It Grew by Gordon L. Weil.
Lake County has a covered bridge at the Lake County Fairgrounds. The 1878 bridge was built in Milroy, Rush County Indiana by A.M. Kennedy and Sons. Known as the "burr truss" bridge, it measures 85 feet in length, 4 feet high and 16 feet wide. It was relocated to the Fairgrounds in 1933. There are no original covered bridges in Lake County. -Photo taken in 1941 by Lewis Coe.
"Dairy Queen" History
In 1938, near Moline, Illinois, J.F. McCullough and his son, Alex, developed the delicious dairy product millions have come to know as 'Dairy Queen' soft serve.
The McCoulloughs arranged to test their new product in an ice cream retail shop in Kankakee, Illinois, owned by Sherb Noble. Noble held an 'All You Can Eat for 10 Cents sale one August afternoon. More than 1,600 people lined up to try the new treat, and the McCulloughs knew they had an exciting business opportunity. All they needed now was an efficient way to dispense their soft serve product - and they soon located a freezer, invented by Harry Oltz of Hammond Indiana, which could produce a continuous flow of the product. J.F. McCullough often referred to the cow as "the Queen" of the dairy business. Thus, the "Dairy Queen" name originated. The first "Dairy Queen" store, owned by Noble, opened in 1940 in Joliet, Illinois.
Underground Railroad in Merrillville
Did you know that Merrillville has a connection to the Underground Railroad?
A house built by Dr. Henry Palmer, the first doctor in Lake County , was used as a stopping point for escaped slaves.
The house located at the corner of 73rd Place and Taney Street , had a basement
trap door and tunnels that lead to the back yard where escaped slaves would hide until being transported to their next destination.
In 1934 Chicago Gangster John Dillinger escaped the Lake Country Jail in Crown Point by using a "pistol" he had carved from a wooden block. More Dillinger info plus death photos go to Notable Personalities.
Famous people who were married at the Lake County Courthouse include Ronald Reagan, Joe DiMaggio, Red Grange, Muhammad Ali, and Tom Mix. Rudolph Valentino married Winifred DeWolfe in May 13, 1922. During the first half of the century, Indiana did not require blood-tests or a three day waiting period. They could be married quickly and at any time of the day. The town became known as the "Marriage Mill" and "Gretna Green of the Midwest."
Old Burr Oak
Did you know there was a 600 to 800 year old tree believed to be the oldest tree in Lake County, located on the 2600 block of W. 57th Ave. in Merrillville ?
The tree was a bur oak and has been a Northwest Indiana landmark for years.
Did you ever shop at Goldblatts in Downtown Hammond? The building stood four stories tall along Hohman Avenue, stretching a full city block from Sibley Avenue to Rimbach Avenue. The building dated back to 1927, when it began life as the Kaufman and Wolf Department Store. The building was destroyed in on February 14th, 1993. The stately old clock that once told time in the Goldblatt's building on Hohman Avenue now graces the new main center stairway in the Hammond Public Library.
Access Space Hardware
Floating above the tables and chairs of the media center at the Jerry Ross Elementary School in Crown Point is a portion of the actual "ACCESS" space hardware that Colonel Jerry Ross, who was born in Crown Point, used to conduct construction experiments during his first space flight and two spacewalks during shuttle mission STS-61B which was in space from November 26 to December 3, 1985. The space hardware and the U.S. flag that was mounted on ACCESS by Ross during the spacewalks were given to the school by Colonel Ross during the school's dedication ceremonies.
Brief History of Lake County
Lake County was formally organized February 15, 1837. The county's first election was held on March 28, 1837. Crown Point wasn't always the County Seat.
Prior to establishing the County Seat, court was conducted in the home of Milo Robinson, as nearly all the lands within the limits of Lake County were still the property of the government.
Liverpool was selected the first County Seat, however, the site was not satisfactory to a majority of the citizens.
The County Seat was moved back to the location of Milo Robinson's home and was originally to be called "Lake County Courthouse," however, the name being too cumbersome, it was suggest that the county agent, George Earle, and the two proprietors, Judge Clark and Solon Robinson, select a new name. They settled on Crown Point. First settled in 1835, by Solon Robinson, Esq., who is known as the "Father of Lake County", by 1849 Crown Point contained three stores, one hotel, Presbyterian and Methodist churches, a good High School kept by the Rev. Wm. Townley, and about thirty-five dwelling houses.