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 websiteI 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The brick house, built for Bailly's grandaughter, Rose Howe, was constructed in the late 1870s.
Next time I'll talk about the rest of the hike and the farm that we saw.