Chesterton Tribune, Thursday, 31 July, 1919
The Dunes Highway.
The Engineers Committee Dunes Highway Association has made a report on the proposed Dunes Highway route between Chicago and the state lines of Michigan, which will be presented to the Indiana state highway commission. A copy of this report was given to the board of commissioners and Commissioner Pollentzke says that he had a talk with the engineer at Gary, recently, and discussed the project fully. He says the interests of Porter county will be conserved if the proposed highway is kept south of the South Shore railway in this county and that a sort of gentleman's agreement was made that this would be done. This route will eliminate railroad crossings and preserve the strategic value of Dune Park, where the proposed Burns ditch will empty into Lake Michigan.3 The Tribune publishes the report in full:

We the undersigned, members of the committee appointed by you for the purpose of locating a line for the proposed Indiana Dunes Highway route between Chicago and the State line of Michigan, beg leave to report that we met at the Chamber of Commerce rooms, at Gary, April 11th, 1919, and after due consideration we decided upon a tentative description of the proposed route, which of course would be subject to such modifications as a detailed survey of the route might indicate as advisable for the purpose of locating the line to the greatest possible advantage.

The description of the proposed route and recommendations made by us is as follows:

Description of Route.
Beginning at the intersection of Indiana Boulevard4 with the line between the State of Illinois and the State of Indiana, thence running in a southeasterly direction along said boulevard to One Hundred and Twenty-ninth street; thence running east along said, One Hundred and Twenty-ninth street to Dickel place5; thence south along on Dickel place to Michigan avenue, thence east on One Hundred and Thirty-fifth street to Guthrie street to Cline avenue; thence south on Cline avenue to Fifth avenue (Gary) continuing to Aetna. From Aetna to Miller on the Gary-Aetna road6; thence easterly along Michigan avenue and Lincoln street to the Lake and Porter county lines; thence following in a general way the line of the old Detroit Chicago road, (with such changes and deviations, in the alignment thereof, as may be beneficial to the proposed highway in the elimination of grade crossings and other economic features) to the intersections of west Tenth street in Michigan City; thence running east along said Tenth street to Franklin street; thence running north on Franklin street to Second street; thence east on Second street to the Highway known as the Grand Beach road; thence following said Grand Beach road in an easterly direction to the intersection of said road with the line between the states of Indiana and Michigan.
Description of Proposed Branch from Michigan City to Bootjack.
Beginning at the intersection of Franklin street, and Tenth street, Michigan City; thence running east along said Tenth street to the intersection of said Tenth street to the intersection of said Tenth street with the Michigan road; thence running in a southeasterly direction following the Michigan road to the intersection of said Michigan road with the highway known as the Lincoln highway at Bootjack.
We would recommend that in order to determine the most feasible route, detailed surveys be made of three routes deviating from the lines as herein described, one of which would consist of deviating from the previously described line at or near the intersection of the line hereinbefore described, with the Chicago and Indiana Southern Railroad and thence following in an easterly direction the line of the abandoned Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad to its intersection with the old Detroit-Chicago road at a point near the center of the east half of Section T. 36 R. 7. [sic] This route if right of way could be obtained would prove advantageous from the fact that there is an excellent, well compacted grade of a top width of not less than forty feet for a distance of over three miles that could be utilized to advantage.

Another deviation from the line hereinbefore described of which we would recommend that a detail survey be made is described as follows:

Beginning near the intersection of the Gary and Aetna road with its crossings of the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend Electric Railway, and on the south side of said railway, thence running in an easterly direction along a right of way to be obtained and parallel, or as nearly so as practical, with the C. L. S. & S. B. Railway, to the intersection with the old Detroit Chicago road near a stopping station on the South Shore line known as Paul.10

This route from Aetna to Paul would be advantageous for the reason that it would eliminate a grade crossing with the Chicago Lake Shore and South Bend railway at Aetna and the Baltimore and Ohio railroad could be crossed overhead at Miller, and there is an excellent opportunity for the development of a beautiful scenic drive along the low dunes skirting the South Shore line on the South from Miller to Dune Park.11

The other deviation from the line of the Old Detroit and Chicago road, of which we would recommend a detail survey be made before final location is determined upon, consists of the locating of a line from Baillytown to Dune Park, which should be south of the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend railway, between these points. The topography of this locality is such that an overhead crossing of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad could be built, thus eliminating three grade crossings, one with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, and two with the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend railroads.12

If, after detail surveys are made, and the two deviations herein mentioned via, from Aetna to Paul and from Dune Park to Baillytown prove to be practical there will be no grade crossings from Michigan City to Gary, excepting the E. J. & E. siding leading to the Gary Screw and Bolt Works.

Taking into consideration the fact that if this highway is built along the lines as herein suggested it will not only be the shortest and most direct line between Detroit and Chicago, but will shorten to a considerable extent, the distance between Chicago, South Bend, Toledo, Cleveland, and other eastern cities. We predict it will become the heaviest ladened and most traveled highway in the state of Indiana, therefore, we would recommend that the width of the highway where possible be 100 feet and a pavement 40 feet in width be constructed.13

We are herewith submitting, together with this report maps14 showing a tentative location for the proposed Dune Park highway, which together with this report we hope will fulfill the requirements necessary to place the project before the Indiana state highway commission.

Respectfully submitted,
W. P. Cottingham.
R. E. Rowley.
Ray Seely.
C. K. Wallace.
Harry M. Miles.
Engineers Committee Indiana Dunes Highway Association.

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3I do not get the second part of that. Following old trails would cause a South Shore Railroad crossing at Aetna, another east of Miller, one at Dune Park (the real village of Dune Park, now a ghost town within the city of Portage, not the bogus Dune Park stop recently created 51/2 miles to the east), and one at Baileytown. (There were also a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crossing in Miller and a New York Central Railroad crossing at Baileytown no matter where the Dunes Highway was routed.)
But what does that have to do with preserving the strategic value of Dune Park? The old trail involved was not up by Lake Michigan. How does sticking the new highway on the other side of the tracks from the village of Dune Park preserve its strategic value?

4Now (at least) Indianapolis Boulevard. The planned western stretch of the Dunes Highway ended up as the Industrial Highway, the Dunes ending in Gary.

5Now Dickey Road.

6Renamed Seventh Avenue [I think. Where did I stick my old Gary maps? I worked this all out several years ago but now forget the details. If I had waited 'til I had all my notes together, this page would never have gotten up here.]

10That new roadway, along what is now the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad, was eventually built. It involved overcoming several of the biggest problems of the whole, long construction project.

11Please note this. The dunes along the western portion of that scenic drive (That route was followed.) are now part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The dunes at the east end were eradicated by the state of Indiana with your tax dollars, to replace Crisman Road with a new road specifically to serve Portage's steel mills (where Dune Park used to be).
The dunes west of that were eradicated by the state of Indiana with your tax dollars, to build a city marina for Portage to politically reward them. The dunes between Burns Ditch and the National Lakeshore are still being privately sandmined for future development, as I write this in 1998.
Hasn't there been a plan to protect the Dunes Highway as a scenic highway for a decade? 'Only the stretch east of Baileytown. The western dunes were kissed off. Wasn't that area to be an integral part of the Sand Dunes National Park over a hundred years ago? Yes. Ain't politics grand?

12That route was built but only after years of delay. Today's U.S. 12 does not follow this route exactly anymore. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern line, which became the New York Central which became Conrail, has also been moved.

13This was a long, drawn-out fight. The widening was promised but never happened.

14Those maps were not printed in the newspaper but I sure would like to see them.

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Posted 3 January, 1999. Corrected and reposted 13th April, 2004, after being knocked off-line four years ago.