Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor celebrates 50th anniversary today

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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 breakwater.

-- 1999: Federal Marine Terminals/Fednav moves its Fednav Atlantic Lakes Line from Chicago to the Port.

-- 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 ships.

-- 2014: The Port receives Green Marine certification, a voluntary environmental compliance program.

-- 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 Ports.

-- 2019: The Port hosts Indiana's first U.S. Navy vessel commissioning ceremony for the USS Indianapolis.

 

 

Posted 7/17/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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