Recreation and Tourism

Large resorts like Lassen’s drew tourists to Cedar Lake in the early 1900s. Visitors enjoyed steamboat rides, dances at Lassen’s dance pavilion which floated 300 feet from shore, and fun in the sun.

Lassen’s Resort Bathing Beach tokens
Cedar Lake Historical Association

With the arrival of passenger rail in the Calumet region, towns outside of urban industrial centers became retreats from belching factories and crowded millgate neighborhoods. This sudden upswing in tourists drawn by resorts catering to large crowds and offering outdoor activities was described by James Hervey Ball, cartographer and historian of Lake County:

“So Cedar Lake…its sylvan shores became no longer secluded retreats and their former comparatively solitary wilderness swarmed with human life by hundreds and by thousands.” 

– James Hervey Ball

The Pennsylvania, Monon, and South Shore railroads had passenger stops at Lake County locations including Crown Point, Cedar Lake, Tolleston, Gary, Miller, and East Chicago. These closely placed and frequent stops on interstate trains made it possible to travel into Chicago and its industrial satellites from as far away as the East Coast, and, in the other direction, to travel to relatively nearby resort towns. 

For church groups or large fraternal organizations that wanted a quick and short escape from the city, they were able to charter “picnic trains” to take their groups out and back on the same day.

Chicago South Shore Railroad timetable
Hammond Public Library, Suzanne G. Long Local History Room

Pennsylvania Railroad: timetable
Date: 1965
Crown Point Public Library, Indiana Room

As early as 1896, the Lassen brothers began their steamboat ferry passenger service to transport tourists between points of interest. Seen here is a roundtrip ticket from the Monon Railroad’s Cedar Lake Station on the west shore to Barlett’s Pier on the northeast shore.

Lassen’s Dewey Line Launch tickets
Cedar Lake Historical Association

Euro-American settlers hunted and fished the Calumet region’s abundant wildlife, for subsistence, recreation, and livelihood. The Tolleston Gun Club, one of many hunting and fishing clubs in the region in the late 1800s, was founded by recreational hunters in 1873. Located near the present day intersection of 25th Avenue and Clark Road, in what is now the Tolleston neighborhood of Gary.

Calumet Gun Club
Calumet Regional Archives, Purdue University Northwest

Explore more about Natural Opportunity

Botanical Treasures of the Calumet Dunes
These botanical specimens document the Calumet’s biodiverse dune and swale landscape

Saving Some Space for Nature
For the last century, Northwest Indiana residents have advocated…

Farming and Harvesting
Native Americans were the first to develop industry in the Calumet region…

Natural Opportunity: Introduction
Explore how natural opportunities have shaped–and continue to shape–the region...

Explore other themes by clicking the photos below

Industrial Opportunity

Social Opportunity

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