Chesterton Tribune

 
 

History of US 12 is Duneland Historical Society topic

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Discussion about the need for a good road from Chicago to Detroit was well under way in 1921 and by January, 1922 the Chesterton Tribune reported that the Dunes Highway from Miller to Michigan City would be built that year. Automobiles were becoming more common and roads were built on a state by state basis.

Ken Keller presented the story of the Dunes Highway (U. S. 12) and the Roaring 20s for the Duneland Historical Society at the Library Service Center on March 21. His research told of the road construction progress and what was happening in the Duneland area at the time.

The construction plans were split into two parts, east and west. The eastern half was completed first and opened from Kaiser to Michigan City by August, 1922. In September the Tribune reported that the road was completed past Tremont.

Problems with property owners and swampy land delayed the western half and dedication ceremonies did not take place until November 16, 1923. Swampy land east of Miller had to be built up to allow for road construction.

Marcia Gaughan played the part of a Mrs. Samuelson who protested having her property purchased for the new road. Condemnation proceedings were needed to acquire some of the property along the route from Baillytown to Gary.

The dedication ceremonies included the unveiling by Captain H. S. Norton of Gary of a bronze tablet located at Baillytown. Keller said there were 300 people attending in rain and hail.

News of the day at the time included stories about Ku Klux Klan meetings, motorcycle racing at Mineral Springs Race Track, railroad strikes, prohibition, new radios, plans for Burns Ditch and talk of establishing a dunes park.

The system of numbering highways across the country was started in 1926. U.S. 20 was built in the early 1930s and referred to as the Dunes Relief Road. The relief was needed because of the heavy traffic on the Dunes Highway and the many serious, often fatal, accidents reported.

The Duneland Historical Society spring dinner will take place at 6 p.m., April 18 at the Library Service Center. Members have received information about reservations. The program which is open to the public will begin at 7:30 and feature the Chesterton High School Sandpipers Show Choir.

 

Posted 3/26/2013