Indiana Dunes Country History & Culture

When the world was young

Your journey through Indiana Dunes Country will introduce you to a melting pot of international cultures and a heaping slice of Midwest Americana. This land has seen quite a bit. Thousands of years of native families; hundreds of years of fur trade; French, English and Spanish rule; the stagecoach and the arrival of the railways. Each has enriched our proud Hoosier heritage.

History & Heritage

The Potawatomi people were among the first to call Porter County home. In fact, a local archaeological dig has unearthed native artifacts from up to 9,000 years ago. The first non-native visitors to the area arrived in 1650: French fur traders who founded an industry that flourished for a couple hundred years and included trader Joseph Bailly. Bailly’s homestead is now part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. What began with the fur traders continued as pioneering spirit and then the railroads brought immigrants from across Europe. Many of their stories and traditions continue to color our way of life. You’ll discover Swedish farms and churches, Victorian homes, Irish pubs, German choirs and more.

It happened here…

Did you know that entrepreneur Orville Redenbacher launched his first gourmet popcorn product from a farm near Valparaiso in 1971? Or that the Underground Railroad, a secret network of escape routes for 19th century fugitive slaves, is thought to have included a stop on the lakeshore of Porter County? How about the fact that The Indiana Dunes was the intended site of a macabre plan by Chicago counterfeiters to hide the remains of President Lincoln until they received a ransom of $200,000 and the release of their star engraver from prison? Have you heard that the historic Civil War-era Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso was said to be a favorite venue of “The March King,” conductor John Philip Sousa, who led a concert there in 1898? The Opera House also hosted the famous Marx Brothers vaudeville comedy trio in 1919.

Indiana Dunes Visitor Center has been added to your travel planner!
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Memorial Opera House has been added to your travel planner!
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Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm has been added to your travel planner!
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Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm

618 N Mineral Springs Rd, Porter

These two historic sites sit nearly side-by-side within the Indiana Dunes...Read More

T: (219) 395-1882 | View Website

Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery has been added to your travel planner!
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Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery

525 Broadway, Beverly Shores

This tiny, pink stucco museum pays homage to the town’s history and...Read More

T: (219) 878-1517

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Century of Progress Homes

West Lakefront Dr, between Dunbar and Derby Avenues, Beverly Shores

The Century of Progress Homes, originally constructed for the 1933 Chicago...Read More

T: (219) 395-1882 | View Website

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Chesterton and Porter Walking Tours

700 W Porter Ave, Chesterton

Visit Westchester Township History Museum/The Brown Mansion to pick up walking...Read More

T: (219) 983-9715 | View Website

Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum has been added to your travel planner!
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Countryside Park and Alton Goin Museum

5250 US Hwy 6, Portage

This museum, located inside Countryside Park and operated by the Portage...Read More

T: (219) 762-8349 | View Website

Porter County Museum has been added to your travel planner!
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Porter County Museum

153 S Franklin St, Valparaiso

Once the sheriff’s residence and local jail, the Porter County Museum is now...Read More

T: (219) 465-3595 | View Website

Stagecoach Inn & Panhandle Depot has been added to your travel planner!
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Stagecoach Inn & Panhandle Depot

127 N Main St, Hebron

Open from June through September, the Stage Coach Inn and Panhandle Depot are...Read More

T: (219) 996-3192

The Illiana Garden Railroad Society at Samuelson's Nursery has been added to your travel planner!
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The Illiana Garden Railroad Society at Samuelson's Nursery

295 N State Rd 2, Valparaiso

Train enthusiasts! Grab your conductor’s hat and imagination and head to the...Read More

T: (219) 462-6924 | View Website

Valparaiso Fire Museum has been added to your travel planner!
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Valparaiso Fire Museum

3701 Innovation Way, Valparaiso

The museum offers a fascinating view of fire- fighting from the age of leather...Read More

T: (219) 462-6161 | View Website

Valparaiso University Brauer Museum of Art has been added to your travel planner!
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Valparaiso University Brauer Museum of Art

1709 Chapel Dr, Valparaiso

Located in the state-of-art Center for the Arts on the Valparaiso University...Read More

T: (219) 464-5365 | View Website

Westchester Township History Museum has been added to your travel planner!
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Westchester Township History Museum

700 W Porter Ave, Chesterton

Victorian era gardens welcome visitors to the elegant 1885 Brown Mansion, which...Read More

T: (219) 983-9715 | View Website

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Wolf Mansion

453 W 700 North, Valparaiso

Several times each year, Wolf Mansion, a private residence on the National...Read More

T: (219) 364-8102 | View Website