The Old Lighthouse Museum is the most historic structure left in Michigan City

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The building was constructed in 1858 by the U.S. government to provide navigation aid to ships on Lake Michigan. Over the years Michigan City’s beacon became known as “Old Faithful” because of the conscientious services of its lighthouse keepers.

The most famous of these lighthouse keepers was Harriet Colfax, who worked for 43 years until her retirement in 1904. Extensively remodeled in 1904, the lighthouse served exclusively as quarters for the keeper and his assistant; the beacon light had been moved to the pier lighthouse in the late 1880’s.

The Coast Guard took over the lighthouse service after the death of the last lighthouse keeper in 1940. In 1965, the Michigan City Historical Society leased the building from the city, restoring and establishing a museum in the lighthouse. The Old Lighthouse Museum is open to the public for tours.


The Legend Of The Ghost in LaPorte, Indiana

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The most famous haunted house in LaPorte is currently the site of the “I” Street Clinic on the corner of “I” and Tenth streets. There was originally a mansion at the site built by Dr. George L. Andrew between 1845 and 1850. There were many families who subsequently lived in this home.

The Gwynne family who lived in the home from 1904 until 1948 was the first family to report ghost hauntings. They heard pounding footsteps up and down the staircase. Once the doorbell rang on a winter night, and when Mr. Gwynne went to the door, there was no one there and the snow was undisturbed. Another odd occurrence was when Mrs. Madeline Gwynne Kinney was cleaning an empty downstairs closet, and she heard a noise behind her. She turned to find several old coins on the floor. There were no holes or cracks in the walls to explain where the coins appeared from!

The last family to have lived in the house from about 1958 to 1963 was the Zimmermans. They also had a similar incident with the coins falling on the floor in the same closet. The Zimmermans often felt a ghost present in the house. They experienced doors closing, heard footsteps and the doorbell ringing, and they could feel the movement of air!

In the early 1970s the house was torn down and a medical center was built at the site. There are still claims that a ghost lingers there.

One legend explaining these hauntings suggests that the ghost is from the spirit of a Potawatomi Indian girl who died at this site in 1838. She was part of a group of Native Americans who were pushed westward by the white settlers. The tale says that on their journey they rested on the site where she became ill and died. This is where it is thought she was buried and her spirit still lingers.

Another explanation of the hauntings involves two women who lived in the house in the late 19th century. One of the women fell in love with a man who headed for the California gold rush. He told her that if she waited for him, he would share his riches with her.

Shortly thereafter, the carriage she was riding in was hit by a train, and she was killed. The hauntings may be her restless spirit wandering the house, waiting for the return of her loved one.

Many LaPorte residents doubt that there was ever a ghost here, but others enjoy wondering about the weird phenomena that some LaPorteans claim to have witnessed and to this day cannot be explained.


Kingsbury Ordnance Plant

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The United States War Department chose LaPorte County as one of the sites for a munitions plant during World War II. It was called the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant (KOP).

There were several reasons LaPorte was chosen as a site for this munitions plant. It was far enough away from both coasts to escape invasion or bombing. Additionally, three railroads served the area, there were thousands of people available to work, there was enough land available for the plant, and there was an adequate water supply.

Approximately 13,454 acres were acquired for the plant.

The KOP was built between 1940 and 1941. The first shell was completed in 1941. KOP produced millions of shells from 20 mm to 105 mm.

There was a peak number of 20,785 employees in May 1942.

When the war ended in August 1945, the plant began the process of closing down. Beginning in 1951, it was used again during the Korean War.

In 1959, the United States government closed KOP and sold it. Part of the land is now the Kingsbury State Fish & Wildlife Area and other areas are used for industry.

This information was obtained from the following sources:

LaPorte-Now & Then, 1982-1832. [LaPorte: n.p., 1982.] 67-68.

Vogel, William P. Kingsbury, A Venture in Teamwork. New York: Todd & Brown, 1946.


On April 28, 2000 Good Morning America Comes to LaPorte County!

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Good Morning, Michigan City

Good Morning America host Diane Sawyer stepped out of the sleek black Lear jet at Michigan City Municipal Airport Thursday morning, spread her arms and said with a smile, This is beautiful!

Sawyer, co-host Charlie Gibson and weatherman Tony Perkins were in Michigan City Thursday to film a segment of today’s program called Getaway Friday.

Soon, they embarked on an 18.5-mile bike tour across northern LaPorte County, stopping at the Mrozinski farm on County Road 150E, the Hesston Steam Museum on County Road 1000N, Long Beach Community Center and Washington Park at Michigan City’s lakefront, where the day of filming concluded with a beach party.

The scenes will be shown on Good Morning America from 7 to 9 a.m. today on all ABC affiliate television stations, including Channel 7 in Chicago.

Earlier in the week, weather forecasts called for rain, but Thursday’s skies were clear, a bright sun warmed the air and the temperature hovered near 70 degrees the entire afternoon.

The morning-show hosts were greeted at the airport at 11:30 a.m., half an hour ahead of schedule. A select few invited to the airport got an opportunity to see Sawyer and Gibson up close. They patiently posed for photos with spectators and signed autographs on pieces of cardboard and paper, all the while talking graciously with star-struck spectators.

Gibson had a sense of humor and kept the small crowd laughing until the time he left.

Michigan City firefighter Jeff Peckat said to Gibson, I watch you every morning.

Gibson responded, I keep an eye on you, too.

Another spectator asked Gibson if he was prepared to ride the entire bike tour.

I think it’s wussy if you only ride the 18, he replied. You have to ride at least 20.

Pointing to this reporter, Gibson added, Besides, I don’t want her to have to write we only rode 18.

Another spectator commented on the shiny aircraft parked nearby. Without hesitation, Gibson said, Diane rented it for the
day. I can’t afford it.

Gibson vowed to the crowd that if he couldn’t make the entire bike tour, he was going to borrow Michigan City police Cpl. Al
Green’s motorcycle.

I’m going to be on a Harley, Gibson promised.

The GMA crew was whisked off to the Mrozinski farm in rented cars, where they named a 2-week-old Belgian draft colt.

After considering more formal names such as King Charles, Prince Charles and Sir Charles, Gibson and Sawyer settled simply on Charlie.

Mrozinski said when the family was contacted about Good Morning America filming at the family farm, he thought someone was playing a joke.

Is somebody pulling my leg or what? Mrozinski said of his first reaction when told ABC wanted to film the farm. The Mrozinskis were found through the LaPorte County Extension Office, which provided producers with several farm options, Mrozinski said.

As the Good Morning America entourage neared the Hesston Steam Museum sometime around 2 p.m., a steam-train engineer gave two loud blasts of a smoke stack while another welcomed the crew and 300 bicyclists with a higher pitched toot of his train horn.

After spending about an hour at the steam museum, the group prepared to ride nonstop to the Long Beach Community Center, about 13 miles away one rider less.

Five-year-old Jeremy Fralich of Beachwalk in Michigan City wiped out and suffered a minor knee scrape shortly after leaving the Mrozinski farm. The boy was forced to rack his bike on a trailer being pulled by the Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department.

Jeremy entered the ride with his mom and dad, Kathy and Brad Fralich, his sister, Alyssa Fralich, 10, and brothers Brandon Fralich, 14, and Darren Fralich, 11.

Dad Brad said he had a backup plan before the family ever hopped on a bike. Lifting his shirt to reveal a cellular telephone hooked to
his waistband, the elder Fralich said, Cell phone. Grandma and Grandpa. They’re on their way.

Only a few others dropped out of the tour, according to Michigan City Mayor Sheila Brillson, who finished the tour without a problem, although she admitted that those last few hills were a killer.

Meanwhile, all along County Road 1000N, people stood or sat, waiting to get a glimpse of Sawyer and Gibson. They posted signs on fences, wrote messages in chalk on the road and adorned baby strollers with poster board greetings, and people gathered in small
groups at crossroads or in their front yards.

The Kaegebein family at 4997W County Road 1000N set up their lawn chairs early and waited. They waited so long that 16-month-old Amanda Kaegebein gave up after playing outside for the better part of the afternoon and fell asleep in her great aunt Mary Ann Setnicky’s lap.

A large crowd gathered at the Long Beach Community Center and Gibson and Sawyer were immediately encircled by spectators upon their arrival.

They signed autographs, posed for pictures and talked with spectators. When the entourage arrived at Washington Park about 5:30 p.m., an estimated hour behind schedule, there was even a larger crowd waiting, with The Rock Doctors providing live entertainment for the group.

The green-blue water of Lake Michigan provided a perfect backdrop for the morning-show hosts, including GMA weatherman Tony Perkins, who joined the band to belt out Roy Orbisons Pretty Woman.

This is to Diane, Perkins yelled at the song’s conclusion.

Shortly thereafter, two shiny black Lincoln Town Cars arrived. While Perkins and Gibson departed together in the back seat of one, Sawyer was whisked away alone in the other.


George W. Bush Visits Northern Indiana October 27, 2000

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Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush came to South Bend on Friday with a message aimed at helping himself in Michigan and helping GOP congressional candidate Chris Chocola in Indiana.

In a 13-minute airport speech, Bush sounded his campaign theme that he “trusts the people, not the federal government” on issues from Social Security investment to determining how much of the surplus should go for a tax cut.

“We can do better in America than what we’ve got in Washington, D.C.,” Bush said, drawing applause from the 1,500 supporters at a late afternoon airport rally.

Representatives from LaPorte County included Michigan Township Trustee Mary L. Lombard, Chief Deputy Bart Lombard, Ron Lombard, and Tony Comegys. Mark Schoonaert from Naturally Wood Furniture donated the use of his digital camera, see the photos and video below.

Bush came in a bus caravan, winding up a day of campaign stops in Michigan, a battleground state in his race with Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore. After the rally, he boarded a plane in South Bend for a flight to Detroit for another Michigan event Friday night.

Chocola, beaming, was in the spotlight, introducing the presidential nominee and then standing beside Bush during the speech, the only other person at the microphone.