From Mt. Tom

From Mt. Tom

From Mt. Tom

I have written a few entries recently about the artworks and influence of painter Frank V. Dudley. In those posts I have chronicled my efforts to seek the specific location where Dudley’s famous Duneland Studio cottage stood among the Indiana Dunes as well as my attempts to photograph some of the nearby sites likely used as subjects in Dudley’s paintings. Just as the position where Dudley’s cabin once stood has changed, in some ways dramatically, so have many of the surrounding settings where the artist situated his easel.

Last week I visited a couple of times the summit of Mt. Tom, at nearly 200 feet the highest terrain of the dunes along Lake Michigan. In the accompanying photo, the wooden stairway, which had been added sometime after Dudley’s paintings were produced, is part of Trail 4, one of the paths toward the top of Mt. Tom. Dudley seemed to be fascinated by the views of the lake and shoreline landscape available from that elevated spot, so much so that he created multiple works from Mt. Tom over a period of decades. One example can be found online.

Therefore, I decided to snap a picture from the top of Mt. Tom as a comparison with Dudley’s paintings. In this image observers can note an increase of foliage, as the forests appear to have reclaimed more and more of the coastal land. Unfortunately, if one examines the photo closely, the industrialization of parcels and ports near Gary also can be detected, and steel mill smokestacks are evident on the horizon.

However, such details increase my appreciation for the great efforts by Dudley and others to preserve the dunes as much as they could. Their extraordinary dedication eventually resulted in a state park of about 2200 acres as well as a national park that extends nearly 25 miles along the southern coast of Lake Michigan and covers about 15,000 acres.

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