View from Governor’s Cottage

View from Governor's Cottage

View from Governor’s Cottage

Sunday morning I participated in a guided hike at Indiana Dunes State Park. With a half-dozen other hikers led by one of the park’s naturalists, I followed a few trails, finally arriving at a forgotten and hidden path through the dunes usually out of bounds to visitors. Known as the cabin trail, decades ago it had connected a number of various cottages along the shore with great lake views.

Perhaps the most significant structure was the Governor’s Cottage, which served as a summer vacation home for the state’s leader. Most importantly, it was a location favored by Governor Jackson and his family during his term in the 1920s, and this appreciation of the scenic landscape along Lake Michigan led to an official declaration in 1925 that land be purchased as park property to be preserved in its natural condition. In honor of his action, one of the highest spots along the dunes was renamed from Mount Green to Mount Jackson.

As part of an agreement to return the area to its original condition, all of the cottages and beach houses at the dunes (about 70) were demolished in the 1960s. Indeed, the only remaining trace of their existence seems to be a couple of small sections of the base for the porch of the Governor’s cottage, brick segments now camouflaged by a half century of nature’s reclamation, maturing trees and rough undergrowth.

While we explored the elevated ledge of the dunes that had contained the cottage and once offered unhindered views of the lake, I took a few photographs, including this image of the vista as seen today from the site of the Governor’s Cottage.

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