Stephen Mather Memorial Plaque (Lake View)

Bronze plaque with embossed relief image of Stephen Mather, profile view from the chest up.
"There will never come an end to the good that he has done."

Quick Facts
Lake View Picnic Area
Near a picnic area overlooking Lake Michigan is a bronze plaque dedicated to Stephen Tyng Mather, known both as a sucessful businessman and avid conservationist.

In the early 1910s, while working as a businessman in Chicago, Mather joined the ranks of the Prairie Club of Chicago. The club, spearheaded by conservationist Jens Jensen and renowned ecologist Henry Cowles; formaulated the first concerted push to preserve the Indiana Dunes.

Mather was appointed special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane, in 1915 and focused on establishing an office to manage the National Parks. His vigorous efforts to build public and political support for the parks helped persuade Congress to create the National Park Service (NPS) in 1916.

In October of 1916, Mather conducted hearings in Chicago on a proposed "Sand Dunes National Park." Although Mather's call for a national park along Indiana's coast had strong local support, conservation efforts for the Dunes came to a stand-still when the United States entered World War 1. Additional barriers included finding means to appropriate funds to purchase the Dunes from private holdings, along with Mather's absence for health reasons.

Appointed the first director of the NPS in May 1917, he continued to promote park access, development, and use, and contributed generously to the parks from his personal fortune. Mather turned to his good friend Richard Lieber, head of Indiana's state parks to take the lead in saving the Dunes. 

Following Mather's death in 1930, a series of bronze memorial plaques were created to commemorate him and the sites he was involved in conserving. Plaques dedicated to Mather have been placed in national parks throughout the country, concluding with the inscription:

"He laid the foundation of the National Park Service, defining and establishing the policies under which its areas shall be developed and conserved, unimpaired for future generations. There will never come an end to the good he has done . . ."

This memorial plaque is located along the righthand stairwell down to the beach from the Lake View picnic area. This plaque was originally showcased at Indiana Dunes State Park when first recieved in 1932. After the establishment of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966, the plaque was transferred to the National Park Service. The plaque was installed at Lake View in 1989.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Last updated: December 28, 2022