Monday, July 28, 2014

Hiking the Dunes - Part I

Last Wednesday we left Abigail with my sister in Indianapolis and headed up to northwest Indiana for a couple day vacation.  We were staying at a bed and breakfast and check-in wasn't until the evening, but we wanted to see some sights before we arrived so we stopped by Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and has much to offer. Whether you enjoy scouting for rare species of birds or flying kites on the sandy beach, the national lakeshore's 15,000 acres will continually enchant you.  Hikers will enjoy 45 miles of trails over rugged dunes, mysterious wetlands, sunny prairies, meandering rivers, and peaceful forests.
--Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore website
I always like to visit National Park sites whenever we're nearby, especially since we get a pass each year, so once I knew we'd be near the dunes I knew it would be a perfect place to visit.  The park was established almost fifty years ago and surrounds an earlier state park (which has the largest dunes in the area in its boundaries).  We first visited the visitor center.
We ate lunch outside--the weather was beautiful if a tad windy.
Inside the visitor center space had a few small exhibits and shared space with the state park and local tourist bureau.
Since we didn't have too much time we decided upon a short hike at the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm.
There were plenty of longer hikes, but we just took the shortest full-circle route to see the homestead and circle back around through the farm.
Sadly the ranger station was closed--which seemed strange for July, which should be in the busy season.  But according to the website it is only open during special events, which is a shame since there is apparently a passport cancellation stamp there.
The walk was shaded most of the way, which combined with the cooler temperatures (in the 70s) made for a great hike.
It was fun to just have the two of us out to explore.
I snapped a few pictures of interesting sights.
The trail was obviously not too remote as evidenced by the trash can.
After a short while we came upon an open area that we realized was the Bailly Homestead.
Joseph Bailly, one of the first settlers in northwest Indiana, arrived here with his family in 1822.  He chose this site to establish his trading post becasue it was on the Little Calumet River.
--site signage
I found these orange flowers and managed to get a clear shot with a log structure in the background.  This is one of my favorite shots from the day.
Although Indiana became a state in 1816, northwestern Indiana was essentially a wilderness when Joseph Bailly arrived in 1822 from Michigan with his wife Marie and their children to build their homestead....  During the fur trading years the homestead consisted of six log structures which served as living quarters, kitchen, storehouse and warehouses for the trade goods.  material from the original buildings is being preserved in the log structures you see today.
--site signage
Beaver felt hats, the fashion style in Europe and the eastern United States created a demand for beaver pelts.  This demand and the Potawatomi Indians' desire for trade items such as blankets, knives, metal hatchets, fabric and clothing enabled Joseph Bailly to operate a modest fur trading business in the 1820s.  Potawatomis brought the beaver pelts to Bailly in the spring of the year; he shipped them to Mackinac.  From there they traveled to Montreal and eventually to Europe. 
By 1830 Bailly's fur trading business had nearly ended.  Overtrapping had nearly depleted the beaver population in the area and the beaver felt hat had gone out of style.  In the early 1830s Joseph Bailly opened a tavern northwest of the homestead on the Fort Dearborn to Detroit Road (present day U.S. Hwy 12) to supplement his income.  The fur trading era in northwestern Indiana had come to an end.
--site signage
Change is the best way to describe the Bailly Homestead since 1822.  In the 1820s when the Potawatomi Indians brought their beaver pelts by canoe to trade with Joseph Bailly, the main house was yet to be built.  Made of white oak logs with weatherboard siding, it was under construction in 1835 when Joseph Bailly died.  The structure was completed after his death and has been altered on a number of occasions by the Bailly heirs.  The exterior of the house has been restored to look as it did in 1917, the earliest year for which an accurate appearance could be documented.
--site signage
The brick house, built for Bailly's grandaughter, Rose Howe, was constructed in the late 1870s.
--site signage
We especially liked the back porch on the main house.

Next time I'll talk about the rest of the hike and the farm that we saw.


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