Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area

Shifting Sands: The Restoration of the Calumet Area


The location of one of the most diverse national parks in the United States, Northwest Indiana's Calumet area is home to what was at one time widely known as the most polluted river in the entire country. Calumet's advantageous location at the southern tip of Lake Michigan encouraged broadscale conversion of Indiana wilderness into an industrial base that once included the world's largest steel mill, largest cement works, and largest oil refinery. Thousands of tons of hazardous waste were dumped in and around the rivers with no thought for how it would affect the region's water, land, and air. However, a remarkable change of attitude has resulted in the rejuvenation of an area once rich in natural diversity and the creation of a National Park that brings in more than two million visitors a year, contains beautiful greenways and blueways, and provides safe recreation for nearby residents. A community-wide effort, the cleanup of this area is nothing short of remarkable. In this Indiana bicentennial book, Ken Schoon introduces the reader to the Calumet area's unique history and the residents who banded together to save it.


It can be said that the glaciers made lake michigan, Lake Michigan made the beach, and the wind made the Dunes. Although there is much more along the South Shore of Lake Michigan than just the Dunes, the Dunes are what makes this part of the natural world spectacular and unique. They have inspired artists, hikers, and scientists. They are the jewels of the South Shore. They brought Henry Chandler Cowles to the area to study them and their plant life. and by doing just that, he justified the theory of succession and initiated ecological science in this country.

The effects of the glaciers

Although the glaciers have been gone from Northwest Indiana for thousands of years, much of what they formed when they were here remains and has affected the area ever since. Roughly seventeen thousand years ago, the Lake Michigan lobe of the glacier invaded the Calumet Area and deposited huge amounts of sediment along its edge, forming the ridges and hills known today as the Valparaiso Moraine (vm on the map below). the Valparaiso is the largest and highest of the moraines in the Calumet Area, and together with the smaller Tinley/Lake Border Moraines (tm and lbm on the map below), it forms one of the dominant landscapes of the area. It gets its name from the city of Valparaiso, where the moraine is narrower, higher, and steeper than in places to its west.

Later on, the glacier melted back, readvanced, and deposited the sediments that made the Tinley/Lake Border Moraines on the lakeward . . .

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