(If you arrived here from a search engine, please note that this trip was made in September of 2013.) After a light morning rain, we decided to eat lunch out at one of the nicer restaurants along Hwy 49 North in Valparaiso. From there it was only a short drive to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, less than 30 minutes away.
Our first stop was the visitor center on Hwy 49, just south of Hwy 20. We gathered some literature and watched a short movie about the dunes. Our intent was not to go tromping around on the dunes, although there are plenty of places to do that, but rather to learn a little bit about a group of historically significant houses within the private Beverly Shores community. You see…these houses were transported over here from Chicago…by barge…after they appeared at the 1933/34 Chicago World’s Fair!
As we followed the long street off Hwy 20 and entered the private housing community along the shores of Lake Michigan, it was like driving back into a state park…very wooded and serene, swampy on both sides of the road, until the woods suddenly turned to drifting sand dunes. A sharp right turn at the beach, and we were in Beverly Shores. A few hundred feet down the road, and the first thing that caught our eye was the Florida Tropical house on the left.
If you were watching the movie closely, you will have noticed that there was actually a shoreline and beach behind this house. But that movie was made several years ago, and the truth is that the shoreline has been gradually eaten away by the wave action and winter ice of the lake. The homes on this side of the road were in danger of falling into the lake, and it’s my understanding that one or more of them were actually condemned for safety reasons.
But that was before the homes were “adopted” by new owners who had the funds available to rebuild the shoreline and prevent further erosion. Now the homes on this side are gradually being restored to their historically correct 1933 beauty. The Florida house is one of the first nearing completion. Most of the others are still undergoing major construction, except for the log home, which seems to be in good shape. The next house to the north of the Florida House, is the Wiebolt-Rostone House, which was also in danger of falling into the lake. It seems that problem has been solved, but the house is still under ongoing renovation work.
On the other side of the road, across from the Florida House is the Armco-Ferro House, perched higher up on the hill. It looks pretty good yet, but there were still renovations being done on the inside.
Next to the Armco-Ferro House was the House of Tomorrow, which was also undergoing major renovation work, both outside as well as inside.
We couldn’t see much of the log home, other than the roof and a little bit of the front, and since it appeared to be occupied, I didn’t want to walk up their steps and intrude on their privacy.
Along the road, there were occasional signs explaining what the homes were, how they got there, and what was being done to them.
Just north of these homes is a nice beach side visitor center open to the public.
It has a nice plaza, access to the beach, picnic pavilions, public restrooms, and great views of Lake Michigan.
Next we visit Valparaiso’s award winning and iconic ice cream parlor, Valpo Velvet, and hang around the home of my wife’s sister, Bonnie, for awhile to relax, and then go to see a movie while it rained. Then we will finally get to the best part (in my opinion), the HUGE model train layout at the Taltree Arboretum!
I have to say, I’ve never had much of a green thumb, and arboretum’s are not my favorite thing to visit. And I am not a train buff, either. As a kid, I remember looking up at those huge, noisy steam locomotives, and they were scary! But what I love is great ingenuity and design, put together with a little bit of history in a way that creates something unusually beautiful, interesting and educational. And the more intricate it is, the better. What you will see in that train layout is all of that. Even if you aren’t into trains, this thing will amaze you!
So stick around, there’s more good stuff coming up!
And please, if you have any questions about this area, or plan to visit here, just ask. Although Bonnie is the one who actually lives there, this isn’t far from my own home town of Knox, and we visit this area often.
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Thanks for reading.