Today marks the
50th anniversary of the grand opening of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, a
facility connecting America's Heartland to the globe--via the St. Lawrence
Seaway--and for half a century stimulating the Hoosier economy.
According to a
statement released by the Ports of Indiana, the inception of the Port goes
back to the 1930s, when various commercial groups and the state saw the
virtue of a deep-water public port at or near the point where the Burns
Ditch enters Lake Michigan.
"It all really
started to come together in 1961, when visionary leaders decided that
Indiana should invest in freight transportation and develop an intermodal
port," Port Director Ian Hirt said. "Since then, the Port has far exceeded
original expectations by generating significant economic rewards for
Northwest Indiana and the entire state."
At the time, the
St. Lawrence Seaway had just opened, and Indiana Governor Matt Welsh
determined an organization with greater authority than the Indiana Board of
Public Harbors and Terminals was needed to develop the state's first port.
In 1961, that agency was succeeded by the Indiana Port Commission, now known
as the Ports of Indiana.
Over the course of
30 years, the Ports of Indiana has constructed and now operates three public
ports: Burns Harbor on Lake Michigan; and Mount Vernon (1976) and
Jeffersonville (1985) on the Ohio River.
In 1965, Gov. Roger
Branigan and the Indiana General Assembly secured $35 million in funding
over three years, but it took most of the decade to complete construction of
the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which opened in July 1970.
(For local coverage
of the event, see Echoes of the Past in today’s issue of the Chesterton
Tribune and Monday’s.)
“We are so proud to
be one of the original companies to call the Port home," said Dan Frick,
owner of Frick Services. "From the beginning, the Port's synergies have
served our family business and customers with the fullest satisfaction. The
entire operation has contributed to our success."
The Port of
Indiana-Burns Harbor has nearly 600 acres of land and 30 port companies,
including 15 steel-related companies and three steel mills. The Port handles
about 9,000 rail cars, 75 ocean-going ships, 350,000 trucks, 376 barges, and
200 Great Lakes vessels a year.
A partial timeline
of landmark events:
-- 1979: Cargill
Inc., a grain trader and food processing company, breaks ground on a
$21-million grain elevator at the Port, with a 3.4-million bushel storage
capacity capable of loading grain in ships for export to foreign markets.
-- 1995: A
$13-million project begins at the Port to re-design the breakwater and
create a new underwater segmented reef to reduce wave force on the
-- 1999: Federal
Marine Terminals/Fednav moves its Fednav Atlantic Lakes Line from Chicago to
-- 2003: The Port
ships its 50-millionth ton since opening in 1970.
-- 2010: The Port
handles its largest project cargo shipment to date: 134 wind turbines on 11
-- 2014: The Port
receives Green Marine certification, a voluntary environmental compliance
-- 2016: The Port
handles nearly 2.6-million tons of cargo, completing the highest three-year
total in its history.
-- 2017: The Port
receives Congressional support for a nearly $20-million infrastructure
expansion, one of only 10 "FASTLANE" small project grants in the year. The
Port also handles an 8-percent increase in cargo shipments, doubles the size
of its bulk terminal, and attracts a nationally-renowned stevedore in Metrol
-- 2019: The Port
hosts Indiana's first U.S. Navy vessel commissioning ceremony for the USS