Saving Some Space for Nature

Continuing the tradition of valuing nature within a region of industry, the abandoned Erie-Lackawanna railroad has been repurposed into a walking trail that extends throughout the county along the rail line.

Current South Entrance of the Trail, Crown Point
Jeanene Letcher

As industry spread across the region, more and more of the people drawn by the prospects of work and urban opportunity also came to value the local landscape and natural habitats. For the last century, Northwest Indiana residents have advocated for preservation of nature, documented the local landscape, and ensured public access to the benefits of the outdoors.

A. F. Knotts, a resident of Gary, former Mayor of Hammond, and the brother of Thomas Knotts, Gary’s first mayor, was very much in support of a National Park for the Indiana Dunes, long before the modern environmental movement started. Knotts was President of the National Dune Park Association, beginning as early as 1917, and he began corresponding with movers and shakers/decision makers as early as 1916 regarding the preservation of the dunes.  In the letter displayed, Chicago businessman T.H. Tuthill advocates with Knotts for a member of Indiana’s Senate delegation to lead the national advocacy for creation of the national park. America’s entry into World War I halted the Dunes national park movement of the time, although the relatively small Indiana Dunes State Park was created in 1925.

Tuthill to Knotts Letter
Gary Public Library

Gary mayor Richard Hatcher speaks at a protest opposing the construction of a nuclear power station east of Gary on the Shores of Lake Michigan. Elected Gary’s mayor in 1967, he was one of the two first African American mayors of a major American city. While a national figure on civil rights and urban issues, he tended to the myriad issues facing Gary for 20 years before losing the democratic primary in 1987.

Richard Hatcher at Beachfront Protest of NIPSCO Plant
Photographer Unknown
c. 1971
Calumet Regional Archives

Explore more about Natural Opportunity

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

Recreation and Tourism
With the arrival of passenger rail in the Calumet Region…

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

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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