The next monthly meeting of the Calumet Heritage Partnership will be held –
Thursday, March 20, 2008
at the Suzanne G. Long Local History Room/Hammond Public Library, 564 State Street, Hammond, Indiana
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ST. PATRICK IN THE CALUMET: Well, he never quite got here: there’s still a few shy Massasauga Rattlesnakes at the Dunes. But, in the Department of Stuff Found Whilst Looking for Other Stuff, there’s this: it’s a very close contest as to which was the first St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in the Calumet region. Both started near the “blast of the train horn” of the Michigan Southern Railroad, as one church history put it. One was founded in 1857 and the other a year later. The first opened at 93rd and South Chicago in South Chicago and the other in on Calumet Road in Chesterton (where the Michigan Central and Michigan Southern crossed.) St. Patrick’s in East Chicago also wasn’t far from the Michigan Southern, but it wasn’t founded until 1902. The South Chicago parish and school closed in 1968. (Rod Sellers’s students put together a wonderful site of Southeast Chicago church histories at http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/cultinstp2.htm). Oh, and the “train horn” and a nice history can be found at http://www.stpatsparish.org/history.htm, the Chesterton web site.
CHICAGO LANDMARKS: Did the “train horn” of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern also mark the day in December, 2007, when the Chicago City Council designated its bridge over the Calumet River as a new Chicago Landmark? Twelve historic railroad bridges were designated that day. According to the press release marking the occasion, they are “a familiar part of the city’s skyline and are among the most visible expressions of the importance of the railroads to the development and growth of Chicago.” The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Bridges are found at the Skyway and 98th Street. Another new designee is the Chicago & Western Indiana Bridge at 126th and Torrence Avenue. As of March 13, you won’t find this information posted yet on the website of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks (http://www.cityofchicago.org/Landmarks/), so for the moment you will have to content yourself with the easy-to-remember URL of the press release: http://egov.cityofchicago.org/city/webportal/portalContentItemAction.do?contenTypeName=COC_EDITORIAL&topChannelName=HomePage&contentOID=536966798. By the way, the LS&MS became the New York Central, and then the Penn Central, and then Conrail, and then the Norfolk Southern, a corporate history less stable than those landmark bridges.
SOUTH SUBURBAN HERITAGE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL LOCAL HISTORY CONFERENCE: The SSHA’sconference will be held on Saturday, April 19, at St. Paul Community Church, 18200 Dixie Highway, in Homewood, IL. The conference title is “What’s Happening to Our History and What Can We Do About It?” The theme is the fact that history is being taught in schools less and less; what can concerned citizens and historians do about it? There is a fee. Please contact Elaine Egdorf at 708-798-9535 or at [email protected]; or Cynthia Ogorek at [email protected] for brochure.
THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY AROUND CHICAGO : March 17 is the release date for Cynthia Ogorek’s latest book, The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago. As with her previous work, Along the Calumet River, Cynthia has produced a regional history in a photo-essay format. The new book not only describes a unique stretch of the 3000-plus miles Lincoln Highway, but also connects Indiana with Illinois from Schererville to Geneva. There is an entire chapter on the construction of the Ideal Section located in Lake County, IN, along with names and photographs of the local people who made it possible in 1913 as well as those who work to preserve the history and the physical highway today. Interested readers are welcome to email Cynthia at [email protected] to receive a schedule of booksignings in our area. The Lincoln Highway Around Chicago is also available at Amazon.com.
FROM STEEL TO ….?? Check out the March, 2008 issue of Chicago Magazine for Jeff Kelly Loewenstein’s piece on the effort of developer McCaffery Interests to re-develop the South Works USX site. It’s a huge site, of course, occupying nearly a square mile of land (and about a mile and a half of Lake Michigan frontage) at the mouth of the Calumet River. How a redeveloped site of this scale will fit into the region’s parks, neighborhoods, transportation, retail, and heritage, is a big question currently under discussion. CHP, of course, has a special interest in the heritage dimension. There’s not much left on the site, it having been cleared for redevelopment. But two large ore walls remain and several interesting artifacts. One of them is the “Bessemer marker”, a slab that says “1881 Rebuilt 1900”. The dates refer to Bessemer converters that operated at the location. The slab has been secured for display and interpretation at some later date.
NEWS?: If you or your organization have items that you’d like to post in this newsletter, just email the editor, Mark Bouman, at [email protected]
CALUMET HERITAGE CONFERENCE PLANS: Only about 200 shopping days left until the Annual Heritage Conference. The conference will be held Saturday, October 18 at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.