Porter County, Indiana
Porter County, Indiana
Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Indiana
"Front Porch of the Dunes"
Location in the state of Indiana
Indiana's location in the U.S.
|Metro area||Chicago Metropolitan|
|Named for||David Porter|
|Largest city||Portage (population and area)|
|• Body||Board of Commissioners|
|• Commissioner||Jim Biggs(R, North)|
|• Commissioner||Jeff Good (R, Center)|
|• Commissioner||Laura Shurr Blaney (D, South)|
|• County Council|
|• County||521.8 sq mi (1,351 km2)|
|• Land||418.2 sq mi (1,083 km2)|
|• Water||103.6 sq mi (268 km2)|
|• Metro||10,874 sq mi (28,160 km2)|
|Area rank||29th largest county in Indiana|
|• Region||2,726 sq mi (7,060 km2)|
|843 ft (257 m)|
 – NE Jackson Twp
|870 ft (270 m)|
 – at Lake Michigan
|585 ft (178 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||9th largest county in Indiana|
374th largest county in U.S.
|• Density||393/sq mi (152/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (Central)|
46301-02, 46304, 46307-08, 46341-42, 46347, 46360, 46368, 46383-85, 46391, 46393
|Indiana Senate districts||4th, 5th and 6th|
|Indiana House of Representatives districts||3rd, 4th, 10th, 19th and 20th|
|GNIS feature ID||0450382|
|Airport||Porter County Regional
|Waterways||East Arm Little Calumet River|
Little Calumet River
Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor
|South Shore Line stations||Beverly Shores – Dune Park Portage/Ogden Dunes
Porter County is the site of the Indiana Dunes, an area of ecological significance. A museum called the Hour Glass in Ogden Dunes has exhibits that document the ecological significance.
The area of Indiana which became Porter County was occupied by an Algonquian people named by the archeologist as the Huber-Berrien. This subsistence culture arrived after the glaciers retreated somewhere around 15,000 years ago and the rise of glacial Lake Algonquian, 4–8,000 years ago. The native people of this area were next recorded during the Iroquois Wars (1641–1701) as being Potawatomi and Miami. The trading post system used by the French and then the English encouraged native people to live in central villages along major waterways. Therefore, there are no recorded villages within Porter County's current boundaries. It was not until 1830 when Chiqua's town and Tassinong appear on maps and in records. Chiqua's town is a mile east of Valparaiso on State Route 2, the old Sauk Trail. Tassinong is south of Valparaiso about 5 miles (8.0 km) on State Route 49 at Baum's Bridge Road, the main route across the Great Kankakee Marsh.
Porter County was formed in 1836. From 1832 to 1836, the area that became Porter County was part of La Porte County. It was named for Capt. David Porter, naval officer during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.
In 1962, Bethlehem Steel built a large integrated steel mill on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is now owned and operated by ArcelorMittal. The construction of the mill, as well as the neighboring Port of Indiana, generated enormous controversy between industrial interests and locals who wanted to conserve the natural shoreline and habitat. Although the activists lost and the steel mill and port were constructed, the U.S. Congress created the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966 to protect the area's unique natural habitat.
According to the 2010 census, the county has an area of 521.78 square miles (1,351.4 km2), of which 418.15 square miles (1,083.0 km2) (or 80.14%) is land and 103.63 square miles (268.4 km2) (or 19.86%) is water, most of it in Lake Michigan. The highest point, at 870 feet (270 m), is in northeastern Jackson Township near County Road East 950 North and County Line Road. The lowest point, at 585 feet (178 m), is along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
- LaPorte County (east)
- Starke County (southeast)
- Jasper County (south)
- Lake County (west)
- Cook County, Illinois (northwest, boundary in Lake Michigan)
- Berrien County, Michigan (northeast, boundary in Lake Michigan)
National protected area
The municipalities in Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:
- Aberdeen – 1,875
- Lakes of the Four Seasons – 3,097 (7,033 including portion in Lake County)
- Salt Creek Commons – 2,117
- Shorewood Forest – 2,708
- South Haven – 5,282
- Wheeler – 443
The 12 townships of Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:
Colleges and Universities
Public School Districts
Public schools in Porter County are administered by several districts, most of which cover areas that roughly follow the county's township boundaries.
- Duneland School Corporation – Jackson, Liberty and Westchester townships
- East Porter County School Corporation – Morgan, Pleasant and Washington townships
- Metropolitan School District of Boone Township – Boone Township
- Michigan City Area Schools – Pine Township
- Portage Township Schools – Portage Township
- Porter Township School Corporation – Porter Township
- Union Township School Corporation – Union Township
- Valparaiso Community Schools – Center Township
High Schools and Middle Schools
- Benjamin Franklin Middle School
- Boone Grove High School
- Boone Grove Middle School
- Chesterton High School
- Chesterton Middle School
- Hebron High School
- Hebron Middle School
- Kouts Middle-High School
- Morgan Township Middle/High School
- Portage High School
- Thomas Jefferson Middle School
- Union Township Middle School
- Valparaiso High School
- Washington Township Middle/High School
- Wheeler High School
- William Fegely Middle School
- Willowcreek Middle School
- Aylesworth Elementary School
- Bailly Elementary School
- Boone Grove Elementary School
- Brummitt Elementary School
- Central Elementary School (Portage)
- Central Elementary School (Valparaiso)
- Cooks Corners Elementary School
- Crisman Elementary School
- Flint Lake Elementary School
- Hayes Leonard Elementary School
- Hebron Elementary School
- Jackson Elementary School
- John Simatovich Elementary School
- Jones Elementary School
- Kouts Elementary School
- Kyle Elementary School
- Liberty Elementary School
- Liberty Intermediate School
- Memorial Elementary School
- Morgan Elementary School
- Myers Elementary School
- Northview Elementary School
- Parkview Elementary School
- Paul Saylor Elementary School
- Pine Elementary School
- Porter Lakes Elementary School
- South Haven Elementary School
- Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
- Union Center Elementary School
- Washington Township Elementary School
- Westchester Intermediate School
- Yost Elementary School
The county is served by two public library systems:
Porter County Public Library has its main branch in Valparaiso with branches in Hebron, Kouts, Portage and South Haven.
Westchester Public Library has its main branch, the Thomas Library, in Chesterton with a branch, the Hageman Library, in Porter.
- Porter Health Care System – 301 beds
- Portage Hospital – Portage
- Porter Regional Hospital – Valparaiso
Climate and weather
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in Valparaiso have ranged from a low of 15 °F (−9 °C) in January to a high of 83 °F (28 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in July 1934. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.82 inches (46 mm) in February to 4.66 inches (118 mm) in June.
County Council: The county council is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all the spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected from county districts. The council members serve four-year terms. They set salaries, the annual budget and special spending. The council also has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes and service taxes.
Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county is made of a board of commissioners. The commissioners are elected county-wide, in staggered terms, and each serves a four-year term. One of the commissioners, typically the most senior, serves as president. The commissioners are charged with executing the acts legislated by the council, the collection of revenue and managing the daily functions of the county government.
Court: The county maintains a small claims court that can handle some civil cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of four years and must be a member of the Indiana Bar Association. The judge is assisted by a constable who is also elected to a four-year term. In some cases, court decisions can be appealed to the state level circuit court.
County Officials: The county has several other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk Each of these elected officers serves a term of four years and oversees a different part of county government. Members elected to county government positions are required to declare party affiliations and to be residents of the county.
For most of its history, Porter County was a Republican Party stronghold in presidential elections. It has become a swing county in recent years, voting for the national winner in every presidential election from 1996 on.
County elected officials
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 164,343 people, 61,998 households, and 43,901 families residing in the county. The population density was 393.0 inhabitants per square mile (151.7/km2). There were 66,179 housing units at an average density of 158.3 per square mile (61.1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.3% white, 3.0% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 8.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 29.1% were German, 18.5% were Irish, 10.1% were Polish, 9.7% were English, 5.8% were Italian, and 5.6% were American.
Of the 61,998 households, 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 29.2% were non-families, and 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.07. The median age was 38.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $73,065. Males had a median income of $59,542 versus $35,534 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,922. About 6.6% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.
|Places by population and race|
|Place||Population (2010)||White||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|Beverly Shores, town||613||96.6%||1.3%||0.3%||1.8%||2.8%|
|Burns Harbor, town||1,156||95.4%||1.8%||0.3%||2.5%||5.8%|
|Dune Acres, town||182||95.1%||1.1%||2.2%||1.6%||1.6%|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP [note 2]||7,033||93.4%||1.2%||1.0%||4.4%||8.5%|
|Ogden Dunes, town||1,110||96.1%||1.1%||1.3%||1.5%||3.2%|
|Salt Creek Commons, CDP||2,117||94.2%||1.0%||1.6%||3.2%||8.3%|
|Shorewood Forest, CDP||2,708||89.4%||3.8%||4.0%||2.8%||3.7%|
|South Haven, CDP||5,282||91.3%||3.0%||0.3%||5.4%||9.8%|
|Town of Pines, town||708||93.9%||2.3%||0.3%||3.5%||3.1%|
|Places by population and standard of living|
|Beverly Shores, town||613||$68,750||$39,906||$429,200|
|Burns Harbor, town||1,156||$26,337||$62,500||$149,700|
|Dune Acres, town||182||$141,256||$161,875||$677,600|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP [note 2]||7,033||$32,908||$84,242||$182,600|
|Ogden Dunes, town||1,110||$59,561||$106,406||$343,800|
|Salt Creek Commons, CDP||2,117||$18,778||$60,478||$114,800|
|Shorewood Forest, CDP||2,708||$49,743||$118,984||$327,400|
|South Haven, CDP||5,282||$19,355||$49,746||$110,800|
|Town of Pines, town||708||$20,255||$36,111||$96,600|
Porter County Cemeteries
The earliest cemetery in Porter County is the Bailly Cemetery, 1827. After the original burial in 1827, many other burials occurred. Additional cemeteries were created as the population grew. Early cemeteries were often family owned or church related. As communities grew, community cemeteries developed. The newest cemetery in the county is Angel Crest Cemetery, just off Indiana State Road 49, north of Valparaiso.
Porter County Parks
Porter County has grown from a single park, Sunset Hill Farm County Park, to four, including: Calumet Trail, Dunn's Bridge County Park, and the newest, Brinkca-Cross Gardens.
- Brinkca-Cross Gardens Located at 27 E. Furness Rd. in Pine Township the garden offers 4 acres (1.6 ha) of trees and shrubs. Slopes and hills create vistas that of flower gardens and numerous hidden plantings, imported by the team of William Brincka and Basil Cross. The Hosta Garden contains many species propagated by Mr. Brincka.
- Calumet Trail. The trail is 9.1 miles (14.6 km) long, parallel to U.S. 12, at the north end of the county. This is a mixed use trail, designed for walking, running, biking and cross-country skiing. Its eastern end is just north of where U.S. 12 crosses the tracks in The Town of the Pines. The trail follows the power line west, ending at Mineral Springs Road, where it crosses the railroad track. A restroom can be found at the western end. Water is not available.
- Dunn's Bridge County Park. Located on the southern boundary of the county on County Road 500 East, Dunn's Bridge spans the Kankakee River to Jasper county. It is one of the oldest landmarks in the region. Built over a century ago across the Kankakee River by a resident farmer named Dunn, legend suggests its origins may be traced to the famous George Ferris, creator of the first 'Ferris Wheel'. The park provides small boat access to the Kankakee River and a parking lot.
- Sunset Hill Farm County Park. Located at 775 Meridian Rd, just south of U.S. 6 the Park consist of 238 acres (96 ha). There are several habitats accessible by trail, including prairie lands, ponds and woods. Built around the Col. Murray farm, the open meadows are used for festivals and events. Colonel Robert Heffron Murray, a Chicago businessman. He and his first wife, Sue Horton Murray purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) in 1934. With additional purchases, the farm grew to its present size. After the Colonel's death, his second wife Elizabeth Murray and ownership was placed in the county.
- Alton Goin Museum is operated by the Portage Community Historical Society at Countryside Park in Portage to preserve the city's history, including the Trager farmhouse.
- Bailly Homestead & Chellberg Farm is part of Indiana Dunes National Park.
- Brauer Museum of Art is operated by Valparaiso University and is located in Valparaiso University Center for the Arts. It has the largest collection of works by Junius R. Sloan.
- Depot of Beverly Shores Museum & Art Gallery is a pink stucco museum to preserve Beverly Shores history through rotating exhibits of paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and woodcarving.
- Hour Glass House Museum has the works of local artists.
- Porter County Museum of History maintains the history of Porter County.
- Stagecoach Inn & Panhandle Depot is operated by the Hebron Historical Society in Hebron.
- Westchester Township History Museum is operated by the Westchester Public Library and is located in the George Brown Mansion, the former home of a wealthy family that exhibits local history of the Indiana Dunes.
- Task Force Tips Fire Museum is operated by Task Force Tips in Valparaiso to preserve the history of fire equipment.
- 4th Street Theater is a community theater in Chesterton.
- Chicago Street Theatre is a community theater in Valparaiso.
- Front Porch Music is a music supply store that offers a weekly 'open mic' night and sponsors concerts in Valparaiso.
- Memorial Opera House presents live theater and a variety of other monthly programs.
- Valparaiso Theatrical Company travels to different venues in Porter County presenting live theater with the proceeds benefitting a variety of charities.
- Valparaiso University Center for the Arts is the Valparaiso University's performing arts center. They sponsor live stage performances of music, theater and dance.
- Cutler, Harry G. (1912), History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests, Volume 1, Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company
- Eggleston, Larry G. (2004), Porter County Lakes and Resorts, Arcadia Publishing
- Shults-Gay, Deborah H. (1917), One of the Earliest Authentic Histories of Porter County, Indiana from 1832 to 1876, s.l.: s.n.
- Other = Combined percentages for American Indian or Alaska Native; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; other races; and two or more races
- Population is 3,097 within Porter County; 3,936 reside in Lake County
- "County Council". Porter County. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
- "Porter County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Westville Quadrangle – Indiana – Porter Co (Map). 1:24,000. 7.5-Minute Series (Topographic). United States Geological Survey. 2013.
- Dune Acres Quadrangle – Indiana – Porter Co (Map). 1:24,000. 7.5-Minute Series (Topographic). United States Geological Survey. 2013.
- "USA Counties in Profile". STATS Indiana. Retrieved 2014-06-16.
- U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics 2010, Table DP-1, 2010 Demographic Profile Data. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- "Porter County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-09-25.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2006). Alice Gray, Dorothy Buell, and Naomi Svihla: Preservationists of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2012-06-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2009)
- The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation. The South Shore Journal, 3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-01-01. Retrieved 2015-11-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2007). The cultural impact of a museum in a small community: The Hour Glass of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2012-06-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; Helen Hornbeck Tanner; University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma; 1987; Map 5
- Geology of the Great Lakes; Jack L. Hough; University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1958; p 276
- One of the Earliest Authentic Histories of Porter County, Indiana; From 1832 to 1876; Deborah H. Shults-Gay; circa 1917
- Calumet Beginnings: Schoon, Kenneth J.
- Baker, Ronald L.; Marvin Carmony (1995). Indiana Place Names. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 133. ISBN 0-253-28340-X.
- De Witt Clinton Goodrich & Charles Richard Tuttle (1875). An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana. Indiana: R. S. Peale & co. p. 570.
- "The Modern History of the Burns Harbor Steel Mill". NWI Steel Heritage Museum. Retrieved 26 October 2018.
- "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "Porter County Public Library". Retrieved 2014-06-19.
- "Westchester Public Library". Retrieved 2014-06-27.
- "Porter Health Care System". Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Monthly Averages for Valparaiso, Indiana". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
- Indiana Code. "Title 36, Article 2, Section 3". IN.gov. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Indiana Code. "Title 2, Article 10, Section 2" (PDF). IN.gov. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "US Congressman Pete Visclosky". US Congress. Archived from the original on 2008-10-09. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
- Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
- "Commissioners". Porter County. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
- "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved May 21, 2020.
- "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
- "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-14. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-14. Retrieved 2015-07-10.
- U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table DP03, Selected Economic Charactaristics. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table DP04, Selected Housing Charactaristics. U.S. Census website. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
- Bailly Cemetery, at Baileytown, near Porter, Westchester Township, Porter County Indiana; Cemetery of the Pioneer family of Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein and Marie LeFevre, Burials 1827 to 1918; compiled by Olga Mae Schiemann; Chicago, Illinois; 1952
- "Porter County Parks and Recreation". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Binkca-Cross Gardens". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Calumet Trail". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Dunn's Bridge County Park". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Sunset Hill Farm County Park". Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Indiana Dunes Country Activities Guide, The Official Guide to Porter County, Indiana; The Indiana Dunes: 2015, pg 19
- Indiana Dunes Country Activities Guide, The Official Guide to Porter County, Indiana; The Indiana Dunes: 2015, pg 22-23
- Official Porter County website
- Porter County GenWeb – county history and genealogy website
- Porter County Municipal Airport (VPZ)
- Center Township Trustee Website (Information about township assistance for those experiencing financial difficulties.)
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