How cool would it
be to ride a vintage South Shore electric train--complete with original
cars--from Dune Park Station to Porter to Chesterton and back?
be--there’s no denying it--totally retro-rad.
How expensive would
it be to build the line itself?
Pretty darn salty,
But to find out
just how salty will cost the towns of Chesterton and Porter a minimum of
At the Chesterton
Town Council’s meeting Monday night, Lorelei Weimer, executive director of
the Porter County Recreation, Convention, and Visitors Commission, made a
pitch to promote the construction of such a line, which would be operated
with vintage South Shore cars collected some 30 years ago by Bob Harris.
Back then the idea
was to run a line from Mt. Baldy to the Lighthouse Place. Nothing came of it
but Harris still has a collection of South Shore rolling stock valued at
over $2 million, which he’s now looking to sell. Or--otherwise--to gift to
the right people, if they can bring to fruition a tourist-oriented specialty
owner of the railroad-themed bed-and-breakfast, Riley’s Roadhouse, in
Downtown Chesterton, told the council that a line of the type envisioned by
Harris and Weimer “would be huge for Chesterton.”
“It’s a real
tragedy” that tourists come all the way to Duneland from Chicago, via the
South Shore, but have absolutely no way to get themselves from Dune Park
Station. There is no real cab service, no bus service, no train service from
the station, he said.
Harris, for his
part, said that there are nearly 50 communities in the U.S. which use
“historic transportation” to attract tourists and to move them from one site
building of a historic line here in Duneland is even possible, however, is
the question. For that reason, Riley said, Stone Consulting would conduct a
“physical feasibility” study for $19,500, the whole point of which would be
to identify as much as possible the cost and right-of-way issues.
ways--between the PCCRVC, Chesterton, and Porter--the cost of the study
would be $6,500. But, Weimer added, she’s currently trying to persuade the
Porter County Commissioners to make it a four-way partnership, which would
reduce the cost to $4,300 each for Chesterton, Porter and the county.
So far the County
Commissioners have not made a commitment.
How would the line
actually get across I-94 and Ind. 49? asked Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd.
“The hope” is to
use the existing Amtrak line, Riley said.
“It certainly is a
treasure trove of equipment and historic artifacts,” noted Member Jim Ton,
The council voted
5-0 to take the matter under advisement.