Two Tales Of Indiana Harbor

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Postby CHUCKX53 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:50 am

Four times a year, I look forward to receiving my copy of The Beacon. Inside this nifty magazine are well-researched stories about lights of the Great Lakes by prominent historians, including our very own Terry Pepper. What I like best about these stories is that many times they will focus on many of the lesser-known and more remote lights around the lakes. To my delight, I found a story about the Old Indiana Harbor Light (c.1923-c.1985) as a subject of an article written by Terry, titled “Steel and Surf - The Lighting Indiana Harbor”, A thoroughly enjoyable read of the early history regarding how and why the Steel Industry was located to that area, the development of the man-made extension out into the lake, and the building of the original Indiana Harbor Lighthouse, with plenty of photos and period maps to guide the reader along the way. Also included in the article was the reason for the construction of the surviving Indiana Harbor Light (1935), an Art Deco style light that was built farther along at the north end of the breakwall.

In the late summer of 2007, I was offered the opportunity to hitch a ride up the canal, from about the spot of the now-closed Cline Ave. elevated expressway (Hwy. 912) out to the channel at the mouth of the harbor, where I was able to shoot about 100 photos of the Art Deco Indiana Harbor Light. I was also able to photograph several shots of the crib where the old light once stood also. Since information on the area is a bit sketchy, the best that I had to this point was from Wayne Sapulski’s book, “Lighthouses Of Lake Michigan - Past And Present”, which along with Nav-Maps I carried, guided me on my journey that year.

Terry’s story filled in many of the gaps that I had been wondering about for many years, about the history of the area and just how these two lights came to be, and the whys of the reasoning behind the destruction of the old Lighthouse. I have always felt kind of cheated that this Lighthouse, along with the Old Calumet Harbor Lighthouse (c.1906-c.1995) were demolished before I ever got to see them. In the case of Indiana Harbor, a light that was rarely seen by the general public, it is understandable, given the location and the times, that it was demolished - There was no group that was able to speak up on it’s behalf. Still, as I look at these old photos, I can’t help to feel sadness about it’s fate.

Yesterday, here came my copy of Lighthouse Digest. To my surprise, there is another article about the Old Indiana Harbor Lighthouse, Entitled “The Elusive Indiana Harbor Lighthouse”. Eagerly, I flipped the pages and began to read. The farther I read, my excitement turned to dismay, and by the end of the article, I was shaking my head. The writer had gotten most of the dates wrong. He had gone to area historians, three of them, and none who were lighthouse people. When he came up empty at those sources, he went and camped out at the Indiana Harbor Yacht Club Barroom, and wound up talking with a drunk who also didn’t know much. He then calls the Coast Guard in Washington, who also didn’t have any relevant information for him. He then goes on to write that “About 1920, construction began on a new lighthouse at the North end of the breakwater. That Lighthouse, which added a sweeping Art Deco tower in 1935, is the lighthouse that remains today.” Later, he writes that “…sometime around 1930, the lighthouse at the South breakwater was torn down.”

For someone who is writing about Lighthouses, I have to wonder why he didn’t contact any lighthouse sources, like GLLKA, to unearth his ‘facts”. And Lighthouse Digest should be ashamed of itself for publishing this misleading story without first checking to verify it’s accuracy. This would have been as easy as consulting with our very own Terry Pepper, or any one of the other Great Lakes Lighthouse Historians.
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Postby Grover » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:46 pm

Chuck ...

What a thoughtful, thought out reply ... this should be
forwarded to LHD and just maybe it'll have the effect
of more diligent fact checking ...

Jeremy (Keeper) was a major contributor to LHD. There
was once a thread here critical of LHD. The response by him
was we were under the impression that there was a huge layered
staff there ... He corrected that impression.

Still, if articles are coming in from "contributors," then the magaizine
owes it to their subscribers, especially those with emotional attachments
to the subject matter, to get it right.
"There are two pips in a beaut, four beauts in a lulu,
Eight lulus in a doozy, and sixteen doozies in a humdinger.

No one knows how many humdingers
there are in a lollapalooza."
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Postby CHUCKX53 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:59 pm

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen inaccurate information sent in by contributors to LHD that has been published. For an example, about a decade ago, there was a squib in there about the World Lighthouse Church who had built a replica of Peggy’s Cove light along I-68 near Grantsville not far from the Interstate’s junction with SR 495 in Western Maryland. The writer went on to identify the location as being on “I-495” (which runs around Washington, D.C.).

When I wrote in to LHD with the correct location and how to get there, I was ignored. No corrections were ever published to that story. I had actually gotten off the Interstate and tracked the light down (it would be hard to miss this light, as it sits in a mountainous area overlooking I-68). I had even gone back a couple of times for photos (I believe I posted them on here last year). I also spoke to the Pastor and his wife at one of those stops. So I provided detailed directions from the Interstate right to the church parking lot. Never heard a thing, not even a form letter in reply. And they never published a correction to it either.

There have been other instances as well, but I’m not going to waste my time writing to them. In fact, I am not going to renew my subscription this time around. It’s getting too expensive, anyway, and I get so much more with The Beacon….Namely accurate Information that I can trust.
Last edited by CHUCKX53 on Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:35 pm

Thanks for the kind words Chuck. I had been researching the lights of Indiana Harbor on and off for a couple of years, and felt that with the Southern Lake Michigan Excursion upcoming it would be appropriate to get off my duff and put something together. I have a couple of what I believe will be interesting articles in the works for the summer issue.
Terry Pepper
GLLKA Executive Director

Seeing The Light

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Postby CHUCKX53 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:35 am

I’m just telling it like it is, Terry….I know you have gone the extra mile, and then some, to do the research and get the facts right. I have learned more from you and Wayne Sapulski about the Great Lakes lights than any other sources over the past decade. Not to say that there isn’t other good ones out there, there is…But you guys are my go-to guys when I want to get the true story.

I was very pleased to see the Indiana Harbor story, and now I have something to look forward to (Gary ? Buffington ? Calumet ?) for the summer issue. It was a great read and really tied all the points together. It’s difficult to find such stories on those “forgotten” Indiana Lights (and even the current lights up in that area). The Beacon has been a great resource over the years for such articles on the lesser-known and hard-to-access lights, and I, for one, have always found those to be a fascinating read.

I just hope those people up there in Mackinaw City know what a Gem they have up there.
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Postby NoahG » Mon Apr 05, 2010 5:58 pm

I've said it many times, The Beacon alone is worth every cent of a GLLKA membership. Each new copy arrives with excitement as I can't wait to read the unknown and fascinating facts that lie within. Several times The Beacon has confirmed suspicions, facts and speculation I've personally had about historical light stations. I wish I could get it more than four times a year, but then it wouldn't be as special.

I've been getting LD for a several years now and I will say, for whatever it's worth, quality has improved in the last few years.
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Postby Hersh » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:30 pm

NoahG wrote:The Beacon alone is worth every cent of a GLLKA membership...

I wholeheartedly agree. Terry's articles are excellent material, very readable considering the sometimes less than enthralling material. I mean really, intake crib lights? I read every word, and now I can't wait to see them on the cruise this summer. And it will also be nice to sit back in the hotel and tip a glass with the gentleman again. (Okay, gentleman might be stretching it, but he's a heck of a good guy, anyway)
Mike Hershberger
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur

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