In the late 1800s, people flocked to the shores of Lake Michigan to play in the sand. Visitors loved to climb a 200-foot landmark dune known as Hoosier Slide in LaPorte County, Indiana. The view from the top provided an enticing vantage point, and the trip back down was even better. Thrill-seekers loved to slide down the steep hill. Glassmakers soon discovered the sand produced a blue-colored glass and began to mine it – one shovel full at a time. By 1920, the sand from Hoosier Slide was all gone, and all that remains now are memories.
In the 1890s, Hoosier Slide was a destination for locals and tourists. Railroad cars packed with people came to the dunes to admire the panoramic views. An Indiana State Prison official, hoping to attract visitors from southern Indiana, offered a free marriage license, minister, and excursion to any couple willing to exchange vows on the summit of Hoosier Slide.
Around the same time, glass manufacturers discovered the sand was perfect for making glass and began to chip away at the dune. One manufacturer, the Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company, had recently moved from New York to Indiana to take advantage of newly-discovered natural gas deposits. They believed the aqua glass made from Hoosier Slide sand produced canning jars that helped preserve fruit even longer because of their light-blocking properties. Other blue glass products, including Hemingray glass insulators, also came from Hoosier Slide.
During the next 30 years, commercial enterprises removed nearly 14 million tons of sand from Hoosier Slide and leveled the dune. Concerns about the shrinking dune were published as early as 1894 when a paper reported that a nearby grocery store owner kept track of the shrinking dune by cutting a series of notches in the front door that coincided with the height of the dune. The Michigan City Dispatch warned that soon the dune would be nothing more than a memory. By 1920 the prediction proved correct. The disappearance of Hoosier Slide brought calls for the preservation of the rest of the dunes. In 1966, Congress authorized the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Subsequent acts have increased the size to more than 15,000 acres, and in 2019, the government redesignated the area as Indiana Dunes National Park.
The blue-colored glass objects from Hoosier Slide are all that remain from the landmark dune. They are prized by collectors across the country. Learn more about Indiana’s famous Hoosier Slide by searching Newspapers.com™ today!
42 thoughts on “Indiana’s Most Famous Landmark Disappears”
I’m looking information and pictures of:
– George Hilaire Rosanier (Ukraine, France, Romania) and
– Marie Valentine Namy Sache (France)
– and Henri Louis Namy from (France).
You are in the wrong site. This has is not germane to the story on the Hoosier Slide.
I might be able to help–but I would need more information: rough years of birth; lived in the U.S.–but where? Anything more you can provide.
Great read! A perfect, yet sad, example of abusing a natural resource. So many natural wonders disappeared from abuse.
We do love to ruin God’s creations, don’t we?
How arrogant of us!
Yes, we do…unfortunately. I was thinking earlier…if we don’t understand it or don’t like it…kill it. I pray we NEVER get to outer space…we’ll destroy it.
Really? We have also preserved many of God’s creations living and dead. The National Parks Act under Teddy Roosevelt has preserved much of our natural beauty.
Horvath is a very common name in Hungty. My grand father’s name is Janos Horvath. Somehow it changed to Howarth
That was then, this is now. You can’t look at past history with modern optics.
One example https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/climate/alaska-oil-drilling-anwr.html
Too bad that article isn’t available to those who don’t have a subscription.
I never heard about the dispersing !” Amazing & should! Amazing story. I was raked in Chicago, & Ones raised please do a follow when appropriate. Jan, 2022!
I had several of the Blue Ball jars with dome lids. My daughter now owns them. This story adds more interest for them and maybe why my mother passed them down to me. God rest her soul. I wonder if she knew where the blue glass came from.
A legacy from your Mom to your daughter=PRICELESS
I was digging in my yard and found an old garbage pit; it had several blue glass bottles, but that were all broken.
Aside from the human impact to the dune(s), the blog post doesn’t mention what created the dunes in the first place?
From the Indiana Dunes National Park site:
Imagine great glaciers—ice sheets up to two and a half miles thick—covering most of Canada and reaching down into Indiana and Illinois. In the most recent ice age, the Pleistocene Epoch, from 1.8 million years ago to 10,000 years ago, huge ice sheets advanced and retreated over northern North America at least four times.
Lake Michigan originally took form 11,000 years ago when the mile-thick Wisconsin glacier, the last to cover this region, began to melt. When this massive ice slowly melted, it left behind Lake Michigan and four other Great Lakes. Like ice sheets before it, this slow-flowing mass scraped and pulverized mountains and bedrock into boulders and masses of rocky rubble and sand—more sand than you can imagine. As it melted, lake levels fluctuated and ultimately became lower. This made as many as seven successive shorelines on Lake Michigan. Winds shaped the sands as dunes, with wetlands developing between the dunes. Older dunes built at higher lake levels stand farther from today’s lakeshore than younger dunes. Many older dunes are cloaked in trees and some bear stable oak forest. The most recent and still active, still moving dunes are closest to the lake. They may be bare or be dotted with beach grasses that can stabilize them until they support shrubs and trees.
Because lake levels still fluctuate, this story goes on. The highest of all the Indiana dunes, 200-foot-tall Hoosier Slide, was mined for sand and hauled off by full railroad cars before national park advocates could save it.
It can be difficult, even for trained eyes, to tell tree-covered older dunes from glacial moraines. Moraines may look like old dunes, like ripples on the landscape. In a Google Earth image some near-shore lake bottom may still show former shorelines. If the land has not been disturbed, the former shorelines may show as tightly packed contour lines on topographic maps.
Thank you for providing this information. I grew up near Columbus, Ohio and learned about the leavings left behind by the glaciers.
Very interesting. Thanks.
The description of the dunes is excellent. Question still remains is why this sand produced a blue glass. Some mineral??
I would assume it had something to do with the natural gas deposits they mentioned.
My Great Grandparents are from Indiana and from that period in time. While just a child visiting there home My Great Grandmother had “ Indiana Blue Glass “ on a three year old reachable shelf but was never allowed to touch and was never explained? I now know the secret to it’s past!!
Now that is quite the mystery! Your great grandmother had this glass on her own shelf in her own home but she wasn’t allowed to touch it? Perhaps she was minding it for someone else?
Thank you for this article. Now I know why the blue canning jars were treasures. Also, very sorry for the demise of the Hoosier Slide. How ironic!
Sad, selfish and narrow minded of we humans.
Sometimes it’s hard to separate a natural resource from a “natural treasure”. To the tourists, it was a natural treasure; to the glass makers, it was a natural resource. You could turn that around and accuse the fun-seekers of being sad, selfish, and narrow minded as well. They were seeking fun, the glass makers were making a living to feed their families.
While the Ball Brothers provided a lot of jobs, they not only ruined the Dunes as noted, they and other companies came to Central Indiana as welll as Northern Ind from NY because the largest natural gas fields were found there. They made glass and also brick, and lots of it. They thought the gas would last forever and cities like Muncie, Anderson and surrounding cities used natural gas for lighting. They had it for street lights and in homes and theatres, etc. They had flames shooting out of lakes in or near the towns and had huge welcoming signs at city entrances to welcome people. The absolute waste of gas like that of the sand became nearly depleted as well as the cause of many tragic fires in the latter 1800s. See the history of Delaware, Blackford, Grant and Madison Counties for specifics. This would include the cities of Muncie, Anderson, Kokomo, and Marion, as well as smaller communities such as Elwood, Fairmount, and Gas City. Soon after the turn of the century, the gas was all but used up. But such was the mentality of many in the so called “Roaring 90’s”.
The loss of the Hoosier Dune helped to create a great corporation, Ball Brothers, that did much good through philanthropic projects to support colleges, build hospitals, and donate to the arts. What would have been more selfish: Preventing the mining of Hoosier Dune? Or preventing this company from doing good work to benefit humankind? See Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_brothers) for the history of Ball Brothers and the many good things they left behind, including the work now being done to explore the solar system.
Is this where Mt. Baldy is?
Basically, yes. Not too far from it anyway. If you’re familiar with that area, Nipsco is where the Hoosier Slide used to be.
what a history lesson! I have a few of the blue canning jars, now know how they came to be.
I live 25 miles from Bruneau Dunes State Park in southwest Idaho. If this natural wonder, which is not far from the Snake River, were not protected as a state park, it woo would be gone today. There are many other such case studies, many of them involving endangered and threatened wildlife and plant species.
Thanks to all the comments, I’ve enjoyed my history lesson today. I am new to Indiana and love to learn about the historical side of a state. Just never knew any of this even though I’ve been in and out of the state for many years, now to stay. Thanks again. Espically to Ron Rosen!
Now I know where the blue Ball Jars came from and why we don’t see them anymore!
Pay attention to the GLACIERS melting, this is a similar situation. People would rather have FUN!
So the glass companies just took their raw materials from the public and turned the dune into dollars. It’s what called welfare capitalism. A story repeated throughout American history but only if you have the right skin color.
Oh, please. I get so tired of people playing the race card.
This another case of the
Tragedy of the Common,
where a common good is depleted by individuals – see Wikipedia
“The Common Good” is a nebulous term that means nothing, since it changes with whoever is calling the shots. The common good can at some times mean everyone benefits and at other times means most benefit at the expense of the few. Fabian Socialists were famous for citing “the common good”, as were Marxists. The Greeks, e.g. Aristotle, also spoke of “the common good”, but they kept slaves. Read history and educate yourself on where these terms come from.
It is true that everyone sees the “common good” differently. But there is usually a lot of consensus on things like the value of fresh air, and a lack of acid rain, poisoned water, and untreated sewerage being about.
Democracy is largely about defining what the common good is, and how best to achieve it. Those who believe in “small government” think the common good is small and involves few things, while those who believe in “big government” think the common good is big and involves many things.
A German monk once wrote (in Latin): “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In everything, charity.” People may disagree on what the essentials are, but very few people think there shouldn’t be unity about them.
Just because people disagree about the “common good” doesn’t mean it has no value. Indeed, that so many disparate people have tried to define it over the years speaks to it’s enduring high value.
Probably common practice at the time. We can’t change it. We can learn from it. I hope the lesson isn’t about blaming people or creating division. Good information.
This story was interesting as I grew up close to Muncie, IN and my father worked at the Universal Carloading in Muncie. In the mid 40;’s early 50’s. He would bring me white sand that had sifted out of the railroad cars. It was the nicest sand to play with. It was meant for the Ball glass factory. I don’t where it might have come from.
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