Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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Greetings and congratulations to one of the most unselfish groups of men and women who it has ever been my pleasure to know. It has been an inspiration to have had the chance to work with you and it has given us all keen and durable pleasure at having saved some of the magnificent dunes for this and for future generations. I think I should warn that the enemies of the Dunes have not given up the battle and will probably seek to throw obsticle [sic] after obsticle [sic] by trying to cut appropriations and by other means. We have won the important battle but have not yet won the war and we need to consolidate our gains to keep together and to push on. While I am now leaving public life forever, I want to work with you as a citizen and I hope I may be permitted to continue as a member of the Save the Dunes Council. Thank you dear friends, for all you have done. Let us finish the job.

Senator Paul Douglas, telegram to Dorothy Buell and the Save the Dunes Council, December 2, 1966. [1]

A Park, But No Money

Following the November 5, 1966, park authorization, the National Park Service submitted a $200,000 reprogramming request for fiscal year 1967 funds for preliminary land acquisition at Indiana Dunes, Pictured Rocks, and San Juan Island National Historical Park. While the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Interior and Related Agencies approved the other requests, it denied Indiana Dunes. The House subsequently endorsed the action, thereby crippling development programs for 1967. The Park Service request for $125,000 in the fiscal year 1968 budget also appeared doubtful. [2]

With the loss of Paul Douglas in the Senate, Indiana Dunes sorely lacked a staunch advocate in Congress. Some Indiana members, angered by the lakeshore's authorization, voted against appropriations. Funding priorities in the Northeast Region continued to be Cape Cod and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, both of which enjoyed powerful Congressional backers. Regional funding priorities for Indiana Dunes could not be supported by the Service as long as the national lakeshore was perpetually in the Master Planning process. [3]

Project Keyman Allen T. Edmunds attributed the reversal of progress to the "tug of war" between the park loyalists and those sworn to oppose Park Service acquisition and development of the area. He continued to urge that a realty officer be dispatched to help squelch the rumor—mongering. While the local squabbling did not abate, Mother Nature helped to minimize visitation in 1967 as Edmunds explained: "We have been fortunate in one respect this summer; the millions of alewives that have washed upon the shores of Lake Michigan within the area have made it an extremely uninviting place to be. The rush to invade private property has not come as was anticipated by so many." [4]

In July, thousands of mini—folders were distributed throughout the national lakeshore region. One of the Park Service publication's weaknesses was the need to emphasize to a greater extent the lack of Federally—owned land and facilities for public use, especially along Lake Michigan. [5] The possibility of a turnaround in this situation, however, occurred on October 5, 1967, when Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall and Inland Steel Company announced reaching an agreement to purchase a 385—acre Inland Steel tract. Secretary Udall agreed to purchase ninety acres, which comprised the bulk of the West Beach unit, immediately for $1,250,000 with an eleven—month option to acquire the remainder. Inland Steel granted to the Park Service the right of entry to its land for survey and exploration in order to conduct preliminary designs for public use facilities. Udall cited the acquisition as critical to the national lakeshore's development because as the largest single tract, it was closest to Chicago and Gary and featured an outstanding beach. [6]

According to the Park Service's Chief of Land Acquisition Philip O. Stewart who later acknowledged that the purchase of the Inland Steel tract appeared to many as excessive at the time, the transaction soon proved to be "a steal." Six months later, a condemnation action in the Burns Harbor area garnered an enormous court award which, had the result come earlier, would have tripled the cost of the Inland Steel property. [7]

President Johnson's Fiscal Year 1968 line item requests under the Land and Water Conservation Fund included $6,500,000 to purchase the entire West Beach Unit. The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee expurgated the line item request. The National Park Service appealed to the Senate counterpart subcommittee to restore the entire amount, but succeeded in obtaining only two million dollars. The House—Senate conference committee reduced that amount by $500,000. [8]

Another request for funds came on November 6, 1967, when the Service asked for $752,000 in Fiscal Year 1968 funds under the emergency acquisition clause of the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriation Act. Although the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation approved the request, the Bureau of the Budget (BOB) cleared it without recommendation. The BOB action, which was applied across the board, was consistent with the administration's fiscal restraint policy. In January 1968, the Service requested an additional $1,245,000 in emergency funds to acquire the "corridor area" in order to assist in the relocation of a proposed railroad marshaling yard (see the following section). The combined two—million-dollar request would all but deplete the special emergency fund. Further, the Fiscal Year 1969 line item request in the President's budget for Indiana Dunes land acquisition was ten million dollars. It represented the largest single land acquisition request for the National Park System, engulfing twenty percent of the Service's land acquisition budget. [9]

Park proponents were determined to help secure the funding. Save the Dunes Council and other groups sent members to Washington, D.C., to testify before the appropriation hearings to support the Park Service's funding requests. Indiana Dunes Project Keyman Al Edmunds praised their tireless efforts, declaring: "Their enduring spirit and loyalty is a never ceasing wonderment to me." [10] In April 1968, the Congressional committees succumbed to the coordinated, massive lobbying effort. Al Edmunds gleefully reported:"The allotment of $2 million in emergency funds was a great booster to the morale of those who have fought so hard and long for this project, and was a blow to the prestige of those opposed who have predicted no funds for 15 years." [11]

The favorable press coverage and local goodwill toward the national lakeshore multiplied with the assignment of a land acquisition office to Indiana Dunes. Adjacent to Ed's Trading Post on Highway 12 in Porter, the office opened on June 3, 1968, with Land Acquisition Officer James Sewell and Chief Appraiser Morris Spencer facing a deluge of calls and letters to negotiate property sales. Eighteen months following authorization, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore finally had a viable land acquisition program and an office from which to provide valuable information to lakeshore property owners. [12]

By November, five new staff members were added, including an appraiser, cartographer, and three clerical workers. Seventy—nine tracts representing 442 acres were in Federal ownership. One of these tracts, featuring the former Ed's Trading Post, was the new location for the expanding land acquisition office. [13] Clearly, the park proponents were gaining ground in the tug of war over the Indiana Dunes.

The Marshaling Yard Controversy

On May 4, 1967, Al Edmunds and David Turello met with representatives of the Washington Office, Senator Birch Bayh's office, and the Chicago, South Shore and South Bend Railroad Company (locally referred to as the South Shore Railroad) to discuss a proposed freight marshaling yard within the national lakeshore. The National Park Service vigorously expressed its objections to the proposal. [14] The Northeast Regional Office had already evaluated the proposal and recommended against it to the Washington Office. Nevertheless, the railroad's parent company, Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Railroad, pressed on with its plan to build the 750—car yard on twenty—six acres between U.S. Highway 12 and the existing South Shore tracks, and U.S. Highway 20.

In September 1967, David Turello and Civil Engineer John J. Longworth of the Philadelphia Planning and Service Center investigated all of the proposed marshaling yard sites. They found no other sites outside of the lakeshore boundaries for a large, flat area required to meet minimum requirements for such a facility. Because the South Shore Railroad loomed large in the Service's future transportation and visitation plans, it was important not to deal the company a potentially fatal economic blow. Any marshaling yard, while inconsistent with the purposes of the national lakeshore, would have to be scaled down considerably. [15]

In the meantime, National Park Service Director George B. Hartzog, Jr., met with railroad officials to continue the Northeast Regional Office's efforts to convince the company to move curtail, or abandon the yard. Hartzog subsequently requested that the Northeast Regional Office draft an agreement through the Regional Solicitor to accommodate the company. Associate Regional Director George Palmer then hired Philadelphia environmentalist Jac McCormick to devise the least objectionable facility. McCormick chose ballast granite for the yard's base in order to be compatable chemically with the sand, no nighttime lighting, and extensive vegetative screening. Several meetings were held with railroad lawyers before the proposal went to the Washington Office.

The negotiations proved to be very difficult as the company demanded a facility which in no way could "blend" with the national lakeshore. Nevertheless, Director Hartzog held the trump card. One of Hartzog's first actions following the 1966 authorization was to authorize the Washington Office's Chief of Land Acquisition, Philip O. Stewart to send in his staff in order to thwart the yard. [16] Director Hartzog later credited this move as the "turnaround in fortunes" for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Hartzog recalled that it was:

...a silent coup engineered by Phil Stewart and his intrepid troops in closing off the transportation corridor. While we had to plan and negotiate for compromise, we also prepare[d] for battle, namely: acquire control of the transportation corridor by optioning all the private property in a straight line from boundary to boundary. [17]

The Save the Dunes Council had already warned Park Service officials that C&O appraisers were contacting landowners in the proposed marshaling yard area. Stewart sent his "best troubleshooter appraiser" Waverly S. Wheeler to determine all the ownership within the U.S. Highway 12 and 20 corridor. Wheeler acquired options on several key tracts and appraised several others. Appraiser Brooks Hamilton from Midwest Region's Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Iowa, arrived to acquire a large parcel strategically spanning land between the two highways. Ironically, Hamilton arrived at the owner's residence simultaneous with the C&O appraiser. The owner, Owen Crumpacker, was no friend of the new national lakeshore, but given the choice between the two, he favored selling to the government in order that the beauty of his land would be preserved. The frenzied action by Service appraisers netted the bulk of the key parcels within the transportation corridor within ten days. [18]

The day following the "coup," Director Hartzog received a telephone call from the president of the South Shore Railroad who remarked, "I don't know what you're up to, but if you're trying to get my attention, you have." [19] Ironically, Hartzog's crafty move almost came to naught had Great Lakes Area Office Secretary Barbara Jenkins and future Advisory Commission member Celia Nealon not acted quickly. The women, upon learning the thirty—day option was about to expire, telephoned the Washington Office which hurriedly dispatched a courier with a check to purchase the property. In short, with some of the land already in Park Service ownership, any deal struck would have to meet with the bureau's approval. If not, the Service would acquire the area through a declaration of taking.

In a meeting between Northeast Regional Director Lon Garrison, Al Edmunds, and George Nelson of the Indiana Port Commission (Burns Port Authority), Garrison and Edmunds became "fighting mad" by the attitude of the State of Indiana. Nelson wanted to speed up the realignment of U.S. Highway 12 to accommodate the marshaling yard, a tremendous asset for the port in that the railroad could supply the prodigious amounts of coal needed by the nearby industries. Edmunds recalled that Nelson "uttered in no uncertain terms that he and the Burns Port Authority and everybody else was against us and would fight us every step of the way." [20] Both Park Service men were determined that the yard would never be built—even if the last resort, a declaration of taking, had to be used. [21] In November 1967, Director George Hartzog concurred with this position. [22]

It was the National Park Service's quick foot work in thwarting the marshaling yard that convinced Inland Steel Company to abandon its dune development plans. In a telephone call to George Hartzog, Inland lawyer J. Edward Day (former Kennedy Administration Postmaster General) declared his client was ready to stop fighting the Park Service, settle all differences, and sell its lakeshore property to the Federal Government. [23]

Political pressure from industry and the State of Indiana, however, dictated that steps continue to be taken publicly to reach a compromise. Additionally, the railroad threatened to abandon all passenger service if it could not have at the minimum a three—mile marshaling yard. For the next two years, extensive meetings were held and the Save the Dunes Council and other conservation groups joined the fray. Environmentalists argued that the alkaline from the yard's gravel base would cause an imbalance in the acidity levels of nearby Cowles Bog. Council member Herbert Read, the engineering chairman, identified alternative sites, all of which were rejected. Upon the Save the Dunes Council's demand that the South Shore contract go before the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Advisory Commission, the Commission voted to amend the language to include environmental guarantees. The railroad protested the action and soon after scuttled the project. [24]

The passage of time and the park supporters' stubborn persistence in advocating the national lakeshore's raison d'etre had again saved the dunes. A benefit of the controversy was the ignition of concern by the Northeast Regional Office towards Indiana Dunes, recognizing it as a park which required constant vigilance to protect.

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003