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Dunes State Park History

The Indiana Dunes State Park has played a part in our US history since 1925. Indiana’s fourth state park opened to the public in 1926. The bill creating the Dunes State Park was passed in 1923 and signed by Governor Warren McCray. On 9/25/1925 Gary attorney John Bowers sold the first parcel of land, including Mt. Tom.

The Friends of the Indiana Dunes are very proud to continue to support efforts to protect the dunes and to provide the many volunteer hours to ensure it’s protection.

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1925 › TO ESTABLISHMENT Of FRIENDS OF INDIANA DUNES
1925

Dunes State Park Founded

Indiana's fourth state park, established in 1925, opened to the public in 1926. The bill creating the Dunes State Park was passed in 1923 and signed by Governor Warren McCray. On 9/25/1925 Gary attorney John Bowers sold the first parcel of land, including Mt. Tom.

1926

Duneside Inn opens at Tremont Gatehouse

Duneside Inn opens at Tremont gate. Admission fee to state park set at 10 cents. July 1926 in Indiana Dunes State Park.

1928

Dunes State Park Leads all Indiana State Parks in Paid Admissions

Article in Chesterton Tribune states, "Dunes State Park leads the other five state parks in Indiana in paid admissions in 1928." December 20, 1928

1929

Pavilion Construction Begins

Construction begins on the historic beach pavliion. Total cost $100,000. Indiana limestone construction. Opens for public in July 1930.

1929

Camping at Indiana Dunes State Park

Camping was becoming popular in the Dunes State Park. However, the big push of campers would not occur until after WWII.

1930

Indiana Dunes State Park- A History and Description Published

Indiana Dunes State Park- A History and Description Published. Original landowner, John Bowers, also dies in 1930.

1932

Prairie Club Dedicates Memorial Fountain

On Memorial Day, Prairie Club members dedicate memorial fountain, designed by Jens Jensen. Fountain was located by Wilson Shelter, but moved to Nature Center later.

1931

Dunes Arcade Hotel built next to Pavilion

Designed by John Floyd Wright (Frank's son). Finished in the summer months. Joseph Strack, who has the concession for the pavilion will operate the hotel.

1933

Civilian Conservation Corp Begins work in the park

The CCC first arrives in the park. Work began on quarters for 250 CCC boys at IDSP. Helped construct trails, bridges, camps, shelter, and more. They create their first newsletter, "The Hoosier Dunesman" on June 22, 1934.

1934

Frank V Dudley Paints the Dunes for free rent!

Frank V. Dudley agrees to give one painting a year to the state to stay in cottage 108. 18 paintings were traded.

1935

Wilson Shelter Built

CCC conmpletes construction of the Wilson Shelter. Named for local meat packing family.

1940

Red Cross teaches swimming safety in State Park.

Red Cross teaches swimming safety in State Park. White block building east of pavilion served as first aid and lifeguard station. Instructors are Newton Yost, Wyatt Meiers, Dan Bassett, and Jim Krieger. Bus transportation provided in 1941. Over 120 are enrolled in swim program in 1944 at state park, and 400 in 1948!

1943

"Dunes Boy" published

"Dunes Boy" published by Edwin Way Teale.

1957

Plane Crash Lands on State Park Beach!

Chesterton Tribune reports, "Minor injuries result when a small plane stolen in Michigan crash lands on the beach in the state park," 11/14/1957

1962

Beach Pavilion Named Fallout Shelter

Four nearby structures named fallout shelters during Cold War. Others included Yost Elementary, Chesterton High School, and Bethleham Lutheran Church

1966

Merged with another company

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore surrounds Indiana Dunes State Park. Only one of two state parks in the country completely surrounded by a national park property (Redwoods is the other).

1975

Dunes Nature Preserve is registered as a National Natural Landmark

Dunes Nature Preserve protects nearly 2/3 of the entire state park property from future development

1982

Friends of Indiana Dunes Established

One of the state's oldest and largest Friends group for a park system. Still very active today at and we are proud to bring you this website that helps you enjoy the dunes! Come visit us!

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