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Calumet Regional Archives

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Calumet Regional Archives
Directors Issue Library Personnel
Ronald D. Cohen NUMBER 28 Robert F. Moran, Director
James B. Lane Fall / Winter 1996 Stephen McShane, Archivist

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Saving The Dunes: Letters of Victory

Save the Dunes Council
An early meeting of the Save the Dunes Council ca. 1960

This past November 5 marked the thirtieth anniversary of the creation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The appearance of the nation's first urban national park occurred fifty years after the initial efforts of the Sand Dunes National Park Association in 1916. While that campaign resulted in establishment of the Indiana Dunes State Park in the 1920s, the modern battle fell to a small grassroots organization called the Save the Dunes Council.

The minutes of the Council for June 20, 1952, record a significant event:

A group of twenty-one women met on June 20, 1952, at the home of Mrs. J.H. Buell to discuss what could be done to save the last five miles of natural dunes. It was decided to call the organization the "Save the Dunes Council." Mrs. Norbert Ziels nominated Mrs. Buell chairman...Motion carried.

Dorothy Buell

It was up to Dorothy Buell, at age 65 at the time, to lead a new fight to preserve the Indiana Dunes; little did she know that her commitment would last over fourteen years. With her ally in Washington, Illinois Senator Paul H. Douglas, and assisted by numerous talented Hoosiers, Mrs. Buell and the Save the Dunes Council eventually enjoyed victory as President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the bill authorizing the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on November 5, 1966.

In this issue of the Calumet Regional Archives Newsletter, we present samples of letters to Mrs. Buell on this historic occasion. The letters have been preserved in the Archives' Save the Dunes Council Records (CRA 149) and Thomas Dustin Papers (CRA 113). Additional collections documenting the history of the Indiana Dunes are listed at the end of this article.

For Immediate Release                                November 5, 1966

Office of the White House Press Secretary

Statement by the president on approving S.360, Establishing The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The bill to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been 50 years in the making. In 1916, the National Park Service first cited the need to preserve for public use the strip of uninhabited, tree-covered dunes and white sandy beaches stretching along the south shore of Lake Michigan from East Chicago to Michigan City.

Over the years many bills were introduced in the Congress. But it took the foresight and determination of the 89th Congress--and the tireless work of Senator Paul Douglas--to save the last remaining undeveloped portion of this lakeshore area. Thirteen miles of dunes and shorelines will be preserved for public use and enjoyment.

Its beaches and woodlands will provide a haven for the bird lover, the beachcomber, the botanist, the hiker, the camper, and the swimmer.

Within a 100-mile radius of the Indiana Dunes there are 9.5 million people crowded into one of the greatest industrial areas of our country. For these people, as well as for millions of other visitors, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore offers ideal recreational opportunities. Here man can find solace and relief from the pressures of the industrial world.

The Members of the Congress who have worked with dedication for so many years toward enactment of this bill deserve great credit. In addition to Senator Douglas, I particularly commend the diligence of Senators Hartke and Bayh, and Representatives Roush, Madden, and Udall.

During this Administration more than 980,000 acres in 24 states have been added to the National Park System by the Congress. Twenty major conservation measures were passed by the 89th Congress. None gives me greater satisfaction than this bill to preserve the Indiana Dunes.

The great scenic and scientific attractions of the Dunes moved poet Carl Sandburg to say "the Indiana Dunes are to the midwest what the grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California."

Our entire country is made richer by this Act I have signed today.

Western Union Telegram
October 18, 1966

Mrs. J.H. Buell
1111 Ogden Dunes
Portage, Ind.

We have at last achieved our victory. Your leadership and your ability to keep together the best conservation group in the country made this possible.

Paul H. Douglas, U.S.S.

October 31, 1966

Dear Mrs. Buell:

Mr. Madden and Mr. Roush [representatives of Indiana's 1st and 5th Congressional Districts, respectively] represent the finest in political leadership in all their endeavors. The conservationists and the millions of others in our state who place high value on natural beauty and wise use of our natural resources have much to be grateful for because of their service.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore must be regarded in our nation as one of the most accurate yardsticks for measuring any real dedication to conservation. Those courageous legislators who saw the Olympic principle at stake in the dunes--and who stood up to declare for that principle--are entitled to the respect, admiration, and support of conservationists everywhere. No other issue in recent American history presented the challenge more clearly.

For many political leaders, it was expeditious to turn away from vital or controversial issues. In the Indiana dunes, we learned much about the great concern such men as Mr. Roush and Mr. Madden have for the interests of our people. We found that powerful special interests could not dissuade or intimidate them in their pursuit of an important ideal. While a number acted in blind and unreasoned opposition, , and a few sought refuge in abstention, Mr. Madden and Mr. Roush fought on for the preservation of beauty for all our generations. This action might be acclaimed in many words of praise, not the least of which must be character and statesmanship.


Thomas E. Dustin

[Ed. note: Mr. Dustin served as the public relations director for the Save the Dunes Council.]

October 20, 1966

Dear Mrs. Buell:

Today is a particularly significant day to all of us who have been laboring so long to secure the establishment of an Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. As you know, the Senate has agreed to the version of the bill which finally passed the House last week. Although this measure was not perfect, it was my opinion that to attempt to secure modification in a conference committee would have, in effect, killed the bill. Thus, I urged my colleagues to support the House action.

I wanted to express my deep appreciation to you for your continued support for this project. It has been a long haul which would not have been successful without the joint efforts of many people. Thank you so much for your patience and perseverance.

Best regards,
Birch Bayh
United States Senator

October 26, 1966

Dear Mrs. Buell:

Thank you for giving me the benefit of your views on the Dunes National Lakeshore.

The House of Representatives made changes in the boundaries, adding West Beach, Ogden Dunes Acres, during the closing days of the session. Thus the Senate did not have an opportunity to vote on these provisions.

As you will note in the enclosed reprint of Senate debate unless the House version was accepted there would have been no Dunes National Lakeshore Park. In fairness to all, we sought to clarify the boundaries and the priorities to be established by the Interior Department in our colloquy.

This is the first major National Park for Indiana and I am certain that all of us through the years will take special pride in the preservation of such a beautiful recreation area. We can also proceed with federal reimbursement for the Port. Northern Indiana will continue to grow economically at the same time providing recreational opportunities.


Vance Hartke
United States Senator

[Ed. note: A "park-port" compromise, to establish both a deepwater port and a national park in the Indiana Dunes, became necessary in the political realities of Washington]

October 22, 1966

Dear Mrs. Buell:

We were elated to read the headlines of the Chicago Evening American dated October fourteenth heralding the passage of HR 51 [the House bill creating the Lakeshore].

We have marvelled at the vast amount of courage from which you have drawn through more than two decades. The hours, days and years are recognized which you have given so freely for the preservation of some duneland by those who have been associated in this great enterprise with you. Out of the untold number of generations who will tramp the trails and delight with the beaches, there will be many who will recall you as the dedicated conservationist that made this reserve their inheritance.

Let us, in this, forward our heartiest of thanks along with our congratulations.

Most sincerely,
The Maxwells

October 25, 1966

Dear Mrs. Buell:

Congratulations! While I know the House Bill wasn't quite what you wanted maybe other areas can be bought and added later.

That you got this through over the opposition of the local politicians is really a miracle and my hat is off to you. I really didn't give the project much of a chance of success when I first got into it years ago and I am sure it was only your bulldog determination that carried it through to final success.

I would hope you could now take a well earned rest, but I know you will find that there are still a lot of hazards ahead in connection with getting proper appropriations and acquiring the land, so I hope you are still strong and your zeal doesn't flag.

Richard H. Pough

Indiana Dunes Collections
preserved in the Calumet Regional Archives

Below we present descriptions of manuscripts and archives collections relating to the history of the Indiana Dunes. For more detailed inventories to these collections, please contact at the Archives.

Edward Newell Papers
CRA 064

The Edward Newell Papers document portions of the life of Edward Newell, a resident of Miller, from 1907 to 1975. Many varied items constitute the collection, including personal diaries, letters, and writings, a unique pamphlet file, and a large number of Indiana Dunes photographs. Because Mr. Newell was an avid outdoorsman, both the correspondence and diaries contain materials from several early Dunes outdoor recreation clubs. In addition, the collection provides information on some early Dunes real estate ventures.

Thomas Dustin Papers
CRA 113

One of the most significant Indiana Dunes history collections preserved in the Archives, the Dustin Papers contain materials documenting the establishment and history of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (1958-1980). The correspondence (1958-1972) details the efforts of the Save the Dunes Council to convince legislators and the public of the wisdom of a Dunes national park in northwest Indiana. In addition, the collection comprises various speeches, reports, and testimony of Council members to rally support for their cause. Press releases, newsletters, newsclippings, and sound recordings furnish additional information regarding the strategy of Dunes park proponents as well as the viewpoints of the opponents of the national park proposal. Also, a large volume of printed material and reports supply data on various environmental and ecological topics affecting the Dunes area.

A.A. Lindsey Papers
CRA 118

The A.A. Lindsey Papers partially document the establishment and history of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from 1958 to 1976. These records provide significant information on the involvement of the scientific community in the Lakeshore campaign, since Dr. Lindsey serve as the Save the Dunes Council's scientific advisor. The major record series of correspondence (19621969), details the position of scientists, environmentalists, and public officials during the controversy.

The John Schnurlein Papers - Porter County, Indiana
CRA 140

These records document the history of the Indiana Dunes National lakeshore Advisory Commission IDNLAC) from 1967 to 1983. The major series in the collection comprises Commission meeting minutes (1967-1983), detailing administrative problems of the national park, as well as various members' views on topics such as transportation, recreational facilities, erosion, and land acquisition; a subseries of the Lakeshore Superintendent's Advisory Group (1985-present) continues the documentation of the park's progress since INDLAC disbanded. Press releases and a run of the Singing Sands Almanac provide information on logistics and various park programs. Subject files include newsclippings, reports, and testimony focusing upon park controversies and improvements, along with the views of individuals, corporations, and organizations on how to achieve harmony between economic growth and preservation of the natural environment in northwest Indiana. Subseries in the collection deal with the Bailly nuclear plant, the State Route 49 Bypass in Porter County, and tourism in Porter County and throughout the Calumet Region.

Save the Dunes Council Records
CRA 149

The Save the Dunes Council has donated records documenting the history of the Council from 1952 through 1967. A pioneer environmentalist organization, the Save the Dunes Council spearheaded the drive to preserve the Indiana Dunes and create the nation's first urban national park. The records include personal correspondence of Dorothy Buell, founder and first president of the Council; Council newsletters; general correspondence; Council minutes; hearing testimony; and a large series of newsclippings, articles, and reports about the Indiana Dunes.

Harold Olin Papers
CRA 150

This collection offers insight into the role of the Town of Beverly Shores in the establishment and expansion of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as well as other issues affecting the quality of life in northwest Indiana. A large amount of correspondence (1964-1971) details the Lakeshore's formation, problems of lakefront erosion, and expansion of Inland and Bethlehem Steel properties. Newsclippings provide data on air and water pollution, the Chesterton JetPort Proposal, and the Bailly nuclear power plant.

Kay Franklin - Norma Schaeffer Papers
CRA 178

These authors produced one of the most authoritative books on the history of the efforts to preserve the Indiana Dunes. Their collection not only contains various drafts and notes of Duel for the Dunes, but also includes a series of oral history tapes of many of the major players, pro and con, in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore saga.

James Fisher Papers
CRA 179

A fine collection of photographs of the Indiana Dunes, this collection consists of images produced by two photographers, Arthur Anderson and James Fisher from 1920-1949. Dunes scenery, hikers, and the 1917 Dunes Historical Pageant are depicted in these photographs.

Edward Osann Papers
CRA 183

Edward Osann served as a principal attorney for the opposition to the Bailly Nuclear Plant project in Porter County. His collection contains pleadings, briefs, reports, contentions, testimony, photographs, and maps (1973-1981) relating to the legal battle over the plant's construction. His collection also includes some of his files from his active involvement with the Save the Dunes Council.

Donald Boyd Papers
Virginia Reuterskiold Papers
CRA 237 and CRA 238

These two collections of naturalists' notes record observations of Indiana Dunes plant and animal life, particularly birds, from 1912 to 1972. They offer a rich resource describing unspoiled dunelands through much of the 20th century.

Norman Bergendahl Papers
CRA 338

A naturalist enchanted with the Indiana Dunes, Norman Bergendahl photographed extensively the dunelands during his many outings along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Providing a visual record of the area's natural beauty for most of the twentieth century, the Bergendahl Papers include hundreds of photographs and slides of Dunes flora and fauna. Also, the collection retains numerous Bergendahl sketches of Dunes features, such as blowouts and trails, particularly in the Indiana Dunes State Park. Brochures and pamphlets of the South Shore Line furnish additional documentation of Indiana's Dune Country in the early years of the century.