The Hoosier Slide sand dune was Indiana’s most famous natural landmark, The huge, barren dune stood where the NIPSCO generating station is now. The sand dune had disappeared by 1920, and NIPSCO bought the land in 1925.
In the mid 1800s, the dune had trees and berries, cows even grazed there. As the trees were cut and used, the dune became bare, probably by 1870. Commercial sand mining began about 1890, when the Monon Railroad built a switching track along the south side of the dune, to serve the lumber docks along the wet side of the harbor. The sand was loaded in wheel barrows and pushed across planks to the gondola cars-this being done mostly by the 100 or so dock wallopers, and their families. These dock workers’ main job was to unload lumber, corn and salt from the incoming ships. The sand mining was done in between ships.
Around 1890, natural gas was discovered in central Indiana, and glass factories started in the Muncie area. Large users of Hoosier Slide sand were the Ball Brothers in Muncie, Pittsburg Plate Glass in Kokomo, and the nearby Hemingway Glass Co., which made insulators for telephone poles. As cars and mechanized farm equipment became more popular, core sand for foundries became another use for our sand. Core sand was shipped as far away as Mexico.
The two sand companies, Pinkston and the Hoosier Slide Sand Co., became more competitive, and the use of cranes and electrical conveyor belts escalated. The sand removal was especially heavy during WWI. Over 30 years, approximately 30 railroad carloads were shipped daily-a total of 13.5 million tons.
-Information above courtesy of eMichiganCity.com Thank you Scott.
All photos below are courtesy of eMichiganCity.com
Sliding down the Hoosier Slide. Unknown date.
Left: The largest sand dune in Indiana, the Hoosier Slide, circa 1890. Right: Early 1900's. A spur has already been built to facillitate sand mining operations. The spur was originally built by the New Albany and Salem Railroad, later the Monon.
Left: Writing on card proclaims "One Mile To The Top." Maybe the trek felt like a mile. Right: Box car spotted along the dune.
Left and Right: Two more views of the Hoosier Slide and boxcars used in mining operations.
Left: The west, backside, of the dune. Right: Shot of the dune from the Michigan Central tracks. To raise capital to help the New Albany and Salem finish the line between New Albany and Michigan City, the Michigan was granted trackage rights. This helped the Michigan Central enter Chicago. Besides an ornate two story depot, the Michigan Central also built a repair shop and locomotive servicing facillity south of Trail Creek.
Left: Looking west from the harbor towards the Hoosier Slide. Right: Two row boats on the Harbor. Note pile driver barge, with huge auger, to the left side of the photo. It looks like they are sinking pilings for a new wharf. Also note RR tower also on the left side of the photo.
Left: Two masted lake schooner in the Harbor with the Slide in the distance. This photo is late 1890's. Right: The stern of the S.S. Indianapolis to the left side of the photo. Also a pilot tug and of course the Hoosier Slide in the distance. The harbor at Michigan City was considered one of the best on Lake Michigan. That is why the New Albany and Salem Railroad first built to there. Many lake steamers called on the harbor. On July 24, 1914 3500 employees of Western Electric and their families boarded the S.S. Eastland at Chicago for a planned excursion to Michigan City and Washington Park. The Eastland capsized in the Chicago River claiming 800 lives.
Sand Mining Operations
Left: Mining Office at the base of the Slide. Righ: Hocking Valley gons being loaded with the white sands of the Slide.
Left: Panoramic view of the operations. Right: Pictured is a part of Michigan City that became known as Snarltown. The houses pictured were considered the "red light" district that served the dock wallopers of the mining operations.
Accidents were bound to happen. Steam locomotive lies its side. It would be nice to know the story behind the accident.
Postcards Of The Hoosier Slide
During the early 1900's it was a common practice in communities to take photographs and then have them made into postcards.
View From The Top
Left: Looking southeast towards the harbor. It is believed that the group pictured is a wedding party. To the left side of the photo is one of the lake steamers. This one, I believe, is the S.S. Indianapolis. This ship was later moved to Puget Sound when the lake excursions business slowed down. Right: Some what faded, but another shot of the harbor.
Couple pose for photo on the Hoosier Slide.
Great Lakes Steamships of the Early 1900's
The late 1800's and early 1900's may have been the Golden Era of passenger steamship operations on Lake Michigan. Left: The U.S. Indianapolis somewhere on Lake Michigan. Right: S.S. Roosevelt leaving Michican City on a cruise.
What remains today
Left: The NIPSCO Generating Station now resides on the land where the Hoosier Slide one was. Right: Naval Armory on the north bank of Trail Creek. Although not actually part of the Slide, it was built on land that once was where the lake steamships would dock.
Again, we would like to thank Scott over at eMichiganCity.com
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