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!