The Vidette-Messenger Centennial EditionThe 1936 special edition celebrating Porter County's centennial year . . . .

The following article has been transcribed from the August 18, 1936, issue of The Vidette-Messenger, published in Valparaiso, Indiana. This particular special edition focuses on Porter County's centennial celebration and contains a 94-page compendium of Porter County history up to that time.

Return to the index of articles from The Vidette-Messenger's Porter County Centennial special edition.

Source: The Vidette-Messenger, Valparaiso, Porter County, Indiana; August 18, 1936; Volume 10, Section 2, Page 10.


From Beginning All Modes Of Transportation Have Had To Route Through This Area

Porter county's steady growth is undoubtedly due in part to the fact that it has always been on a natural route from Chicago, the metropolis of the West, to the East and Northeast, resulting in an early development of transportation facilities.

In its first decade the county's transportation was that of all frontier communities of the time -- horseback, horse teams, or ox teams, and some by Lake Michigan. When the first settlers, the Morgans, came to the county in 1833, from Virginia, they traversed an old route which was soon afterward established as a stage line between Detroit and Chicago.

Arrive in Porter county, they staked off claims in the places of their desire, Jesse, in Westchester township, and Isaac and William in Morgan township.

The same year the Morgans set foot on Porter county soil, 1833, was an important era in the history of the community. A stage line was established, and coaches were operated between Chicago and Detroit. This line proved to be the impetus for an influx of settlers into the county. The Chicago and Detroit Road passed through the Morgan place, and Jesse Morgan was invited by the officials of the line to act as "mine host." He accordingly christened his come the "Stage House," and had no lack of guests in his hostelry.

In the early history of the county the main highways led to Michigan City, a great market place for produce and supplies. Farmers from all parts of the county resorted to this city for their trading.

The best roads obtaining were to be found in the north part of the county. On February 6, 1837, Daniel M. Lea, of LaPorte county, William Frakes, of Porter county, and William Hatton, of Lake county, were appointed commissioners to view mark and locate a state road from LaPorte to Portersville (now Valparaiso), and thence to west to the Porter county line, and thence west to the seat of justice in Lake county to the Illinois line.

The highway they marked nearly a hundred years ago is now part of the Lincoln Highway, of State Road 2, over which the modern motor cars travel in a few hours the distance that required many days for the pioneer, trudging along beside his plodding oxen.

This bit of enterprise led to the establishment of numerous stage lines from Chicago to Valparaiso and points east. The road was gradually improved, although for many years t was almost impassable at certain seasons. Today it is a modern highway of concrete and asphalt.

Other highways were projected throughout the county, including the plank road to Michigan City, costing $128,000, but the railroad fever was sweeping the country. Naturally its first development was in the east, connecting the older and more populous settlements. But the great rush of settlers to the west was pointing to the possibilities of profitable investment for capital, and when the county was 14 years of age the first train on the Michigan Central railroad, steamed through the north end of the county, closely followed by the New York Central.

In 1858, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago was laid through Porter County. The road passed through Valparaiso, where a large grain depot was built and brought a great deal of business to the county seat and led to the incorporation of the city, in 1865.

Before the coming of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, stage lines did a big business in Valparaiso, and the town prospered accordingly. The stores and hotels did a rushing business, and the local teamsters were rolling in wealth acquired from hauling the possessions of the emigrants farther west. This was the beginning of the end of the end for the stage lines, and when the railroad pushed westward through the county toward Chicago the stages gave up the ghost.

?In the meantime railroad lines were projected from Joliet to LaPorte and from Logansport to Chicago, to pass through Valparaiso. The former was never built and the latter passes through the southern part of the county as the Logansport division of the Pennsylvania system.

The Peninsular railroad reached Valparaiso in 1874. It soon passed into the hands of the Chicago and Port Huron Railroad Company and not long afterward became a part of the Grand Trunk system. The road was completed to Chicago in 1875. About the time this road was built the Baltimore and Ohio railroad also came through the county. This road enters the county on the east near the northeast corner of Washington township and runs northwest until it crosses the western boundary about two miles south of Lake Michigan.

Some trouble occurred when this line reached the Michigan Central at Crisman in the fall of 1874. The Michigan Central disputed the right of the new road to cross its right of way and stationed a number of men there to prevent the Baltimore and Ohio from crossing. The latter company sent a force of armed men to the scene and for a little while it looked as though civil war was imminent. In the end trouble was averted and a settlement reached.

Valparaiso citizens through the city council contributed a $40,000 gift to the Grand Trunk. For many years the gifts was permitted to stand against the city's credit as a bond issue, and no attempt was made to refund it until Mayor P. L. Sisson became mayor. Then annual payments were begun on the principal. Now after nearly sixty years the city is still paying on the debt.

The Chicago, New York and St. Louis railroad, the Nickel Plate, was built through the county in 1881. Not long after the building of the Nickel Plat came the Chicago and Erie railroad, running through Kouts, Boone Grove and Hurlburt.

The Wabash railway, (formerly the Montpelier and Chicago), enters the county from the east near Clear Lake, runs northwest to Morris, thence west via Crocker and McCool, and crosses the western boundary a short distance south of the Baltimore and Ohio.

About the beginning of the present century the Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville (now the Chesapeake and Ohio) was built through the county parallel to and about four miles north of the Erie. Malden and Beatrice are the leading Porter county stations on this road.

In addition to these main lines the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern enters the county on the west, about a mile north of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago, and runs northeast to Chesterton; a branch of the Pere Marquette system runs from Chesterton northeast into LaPorte county; the Chicago and Eastern Illinois crosses the extreme northeast corner, and a branch of th New York Central line has been extended to Dune Park.

Two electric lines traverse the county. They are the Chicago, Lake Shore and South Bend railroad, which operates high-powered express trains between South Bend and Chicago, and the Valparaiso and Gary railway, between Valparaiso and Gary, via Woodville. Other electric lines were promoted, but never carried through. Valuation of steam and electric property in Porter county, according to the 1935 assessment is $15,718,410.

Article transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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