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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Furnessvill