Cedar Lake Today
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Cedar Lake Depot. Photo taken in 1999.
During a rejuvenation of my interest in the Monon railroad, I decided to hunt down some of the former depots. Armed with directions from an issue of "The Hoosier Line" I attempted to locate some of the old depots or depot sites. This was the winter of 1999. Not a good time to be out sightseeing, but I did so anyway.
The old Cedar Lake depot was still standing in 1999. It had been converted to a coffee shot, or restaurant , a long time ago, but was now closed and empty. The depot stood at the end of 139th Avenue, east of Lauerman Street. It was east to locate. I stopped naturally to take some pictures of the building. I remember that at the time I went walking along the shoreline north and south of the depot, hoping to pick up any of trace of the former mainline. I was dejected because due to construction in the vicinity there was nothing readily visible. The pictures were put aside.
Left and Right: Former Monon depot. Once the railroad relocated the mainline away from the lake, the depot became a snack shop, later a restaurant.
Florence Puccini. Puccini opened the first restaurant in the old Monon Depot. This is a picture, taken in 1974 of her inside the kitchen inside the depot.
The former Monon depot during its days as a snack shop. Unknown date, but we believe it is the mid to late 1970's. -Lowell Susdorf Photograph-
May 2002: Over a period of three weekend I traversed the mainline once again. My wandering was stimulated by a short walk east on Douglas Street in Hammond while taking a break from visiting my Mother, who was a patient in St. Margarets.
The second weekend of my "wander fests" I hit Cedar Lake. Until reading George Hiltonís book "The Monon Route" I was not aware that the mainline traveled so close to the lake. My recollections are of the cutoff that was opened in 1948. Hilton described it as one of the most scenic views on the northern division. Based on the pictures in his book, I could understand that statement. I also understood the reasoning behind the relocation, however, I sometimes wonder if Barriger made the right decision?
North end of the Cedar Lake cutoff. The lakeshore was bypassed in 1948. This photo is looking south from north of Cedar Lake Concrete. The old right of way veered off to the left.
North of the old bridge abutments on Lake Shore Drive, looking north. This area was accessable from the American Legion. Though overgrown, the old right of way can still be seen and although a challenge, one can walk to the old abutments.
North of the old bridge abutments on Lake Shore Drive, looking south.
My tour of Cedar Lake begins north of the bridge abutments which still stand on the old mainline on Lake Shore Drive. I located the north point of the Cedar Lake cutoff and former right of way. The area is overgrown but one can walk the old right of way up to the north. bridge abutment. Both of the old bridge abutments are still there. Several pictures were taken. In one I captured the old abutments and the current mainline bridge. Curiosity overtook me and decided to scale the south abutment and take some pictures. After slipping twice, I was soon standing on the top of the old abutment. Turning to the south, I attempted to follow the old mainline. After fighting through some heavy underbrush, dodging phone and power lines, my journey measured about fifteen feet. The path abruptly stopped. Excavation for houses and housing development had removed the former roadbed. Nothing remained except back yards.
Left image: north abutment. Right image: South Abutment. Photos taken from Lake Shore Drive.
The next stop was at the former location of Monon Park , today known as the Cedar Lake Conference Grounds. In 1881, the Monon Railroad was completed established a picnic grounds about two blocks south of the conference center. It was called Monon Park. By 1895, it was a popular place for picnic groups from Chicago and was becoming congested. More space was needed for the park. At about that same time, the Monon Railroad purchased twenty acres of land and moved the park to where the Cedar Lake Bible Conference Center is located today. In May of 1897, the dancing pavilion, now Torrey Auditorium, the old dining hall and the bowling alley were completed.
Monon Park Pavillion, circa 2002. This building was completely renovated in 2001. It is one of two original buildings from the Monon Park Era. The other is Lakeview Lodge, once the site of a bowling alley. Also, since January 3, 2001, the Monon Park Dancing Pavillion, 13701 Lauerman St., Cedar Lake, Indiana, has been listed on the list of National Historic Landmarks.
Monon Park, circa 2002. Left: Looking to the north from the deck of the new Dining Hall, formerly the site of the Monon Hotel. Right: From same deck, looking south along abandoned right of way. To view more of Monon Park, including a brief history and more photos, check out our Monon Park Page.
I had heard rumors that the Town of Cedar Lake had, or was in the process, of tearing down the depot. When I turned east off of Lauerman onto 139th, my worst fears were realized. The depot was gone. All which remained was a vacant lot. Investigation later revealed that since nobody was interested in the old depot and plans to relocate it to the cutoff fell through, it was simply demolished. It seemed such a shame to just demolish history, but that as they say is the cost of progress and business. The former site is vacant, however, just south of the former depot site a brand spanking new apartment building sits where I presume the tracks led away south towards Creston. To the north, the land was flat and one could walk for a ways. Most of the old right of way is now backyards.
West shoreline. Taken from east side of lake south of South Shore Country Club. One can only imagine just how beautiful and scenic the shore hugging maniline once was.
From the former depot site I worked my way south. From 139th to 147th Avenue nothing remains. Later that evening I struck up a conversation with my Mother about the old Cedar Lake line and she told me that at one time the land where A & J La Tulip and Sons Marina now occupies was once a summer camp. She regaled me with story after story about the camp and how, as John Barriger had imagined, several near misses between Monon trains and campers had happened. The area was once known as Paisley. According to Mrs. Bea Horner, Cedar Lake historian and her book " Cedar Lake Indiana", "The Monon Railroad officials came to the area and selected sites for two stopping points. One, Armour, north of the lake and another one at the extreme south end. This station was named Paisley. The name supposedly came from a high ranking railroad official of the same name. Harrison Monroe Ford came to the area in 1882 to be station agent at Paisley. The first locomotive testing the new trestle sank into a hole in 1882. The officials at first had thoughts of abandoning the line but went forward with the line relocation and building of the Paisley Trestle. The Monon railroad also once owned a boat called "Monana" a covered craft used to taxi persons to other piers." According to Richard Schmall, of Lowell, Indiana, at one time there were three ice houses in operation in Paisley . Early refrigerated cars needed ice to keep the contents cold during shipment. Cedar Lake became a hotbed in the ice trade.
Looking south toward La Tulip Harbor. 147th Street is just beyond the fence in the background. This would be consider the northside of Paisley.
Looking north of La Tulip Harbor. Just south of Pinecrest Marina. What is left of the abandoned mainline is weed and tree covered.
South of 147th, I picked up the old roadbed again. It is clearly visible and if one likes to partake in trespassing, it can be walked for about a third of a mile. I hike down the former roadbed in search of the Paisley Trestle, which is another story.....
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