Chesterton Tribune



Historians hear of the Ghost Towns of Duneland

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Defined as “A once flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted often due to business or industry decline,” Ghost Towns were the subject of the program presented by Westchester Township History Museum Curator Serena Ard for the Duneland Historical Society on September 21.

She quoted from John O. Bowers’ book “Dream Cities of the Calumet” published in 1929. He said “This is just a little story of some dreams that did not come true; of long-forgotten adventuresÉ and wild speculation in ”paper cities;” of bright prospects and vanished hopes.”

She said there were many more Ghost Towns than the ones she described and the earliest date to the 1830s. Joseph Bailly laid out the town of Bailly in 1833 but it never developed and he died in 1835. Baillytown was a neighborhood where many Swedish immigrants lived.

Waverly, the first actual town in Westchester Township, was platted in July, 1834 by John Foster. It was north of the Calumet River along what is now Waverly Road. This was prior to the organization of Porter County so it was in Waverly Township in LaPorte County. Planned as a lumber town it did not develop and the remnants were destroyed by fire in 1838.

City West was platted in 1836 hoping to compete with Chicago for commerce on Lake Michigan. At its peak it had 40 buildings and 3 hotels. Speculation and the panic of 1837 caused it to fail. Some residents moved southeast of City West and named their settlement New City West. David Hopkins moved some buildings from City West and ran a cooperage employing 40 to 50 men. The post office and a school retained the City West name and prospered until 1875.

John Brown and Andrew Burnside platted the town of Athens along Salt Creek in Liberty and Portage Townships. They planned to tap on to the proposed City West canal and when City West failed Athens did too.

Furnessville was first called Murray’s Side Track and later Morgan’s Side Track. The Michigan Central Railroad came through there in 1851. The Furnessville name dates to 1861 when E. L. Furness was postmaster for the town’s first post office. In 1890 the Chesterton Tribune called Furnessville the “Strawberry Capital “ of the U.S.

The neighborhood is still identified as Furnessville.

Jackson Center had a post office with Silas Reynolds as Postmaster. Two Jackson Center schools were built on the site and both were destroyed by tornados.

Another area still recognized by its town name is Burdick which was founded in 1870 by Ambrose Burdick. At one time it had three general stores, a post office, saloon, a Methodist church, and a railroad station. When the trains stopped in 1928 Burdick began to decline.

Col. Isaac C.B. Suman received land for his service in the Civil War and founded the town of Suman. The B&O Railroad came through the area in 1872 and he struck a deal to have a station built in exchange for right-of-way through his property. He was Postmaster when a post office was opened in 1876.

Woodville was founded by John C. Cole after the Civil War. Woodville benefited from the arrival of the Interurban Railroad in 1908 and the Woodville Depot was constructed. Railroad service completely ended in 1938.

A short-lived village, Babcock was established south of the B&O Railroad tracks along what is now County Road 200 West. Babcock Station was opened as a shipping point for milk in 1889. A post office opened in 1889 but closed in 1894.

The town of Crocker was first named LaHayne after its founder, Fred LaHayne, who platted it in 1892. It was later renamed Crocker by the railroads. Most of it was annexed by Chesterton in 1968. In its early days it had a grocery store, cigar factory, blacksmith shop, butcher, saloons and an ornamental horn factory.

Called The Lakeshore Addition to the New Stockyards a development was laid out with 1,700 small lots inaccessible by car. People thought they were buying land in Chicago. Most of these lots were abandoned or sold for taxes. It was located in the Porter Beach area.

Tremont was established in 1907 and became an important stop on the South Shore Railroad which opened in 1908. Tremont was named for the three big dunes in what later became the Indiana Dunes State Park. A thriving town it had a gas station, hotel, restaurant, Indiana State Police Post and the Indian Medicine Man. Most of the area became part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beginning in 1966.

Ard showed a map from 1908 which included many of the towns she described. The town of Doran was on the map near Furnessville. No one at the meeting had heard of it.




Posted 9/29/2017




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