Indiana Dune National Lakeshore preserves some fine natural resources and valuable recreational opportunities near Chicago, but public confusion about what areas are'or are not'part of the Lakeshore creates a bit of an "identity crisis." The park hopes a series of new graphic logos will help the public understand that the widely dispersed visitor areas are all part of one national park.
Located on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and only a short drive from the Chicago metropolitan area, the park was a long time in the making, and that helps explain some of the confusion.
Efforts to protect some of the dunes and lakeshore are traced to at least 1899, but over the next two decades, an industrial boom, not lakeshore protection, carried the day. The story of Hoosier Slide, at 200 feet in height the largest dune on Indiana's lakeshore, offers one example. During the first twenty years of the battle to save the dunes, the Ball Brothers, manufacturers of glass fruit jars, and the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company hauled Hoosier Slide away in railroad boxcars.
A combination of two World Wars and industrial and economic development interests in the area continued to stall the campaign for a national park for decades, but in 1925, there was a small victory: three miles of beach and 2,182 acres were set aside as the Indiana Dunes State Park. A bill to authorize Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was finally approved in 1966, and today the park includes 15 miles of beach and about 15,000 acres of land.
The state park still exists, surrounded on three sides by a section of the National Lakeshore, and just to the east of the Lakeshore, the town of Michigan City operates a small section of beach and other facilities in Washington Park. By the time the Lakeshore was authorized, much of the area had been developed, so the park is fragmented into four separate and irregularly-shaped units, some of which surround several large residential subdivisions.
It's no wonder the public is sometimes confused about whose property they are using'and whom to contact for information or assistance in case of an emergency.
In an effort to help clear up this "identity crisis," the park recently unveiled a series of more than 25 graphic logos that depict the various sites that comprise Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The graphics, designed by park employees Jeff Manuszak and Katrina George, are intended to help the public understand that the widely dispersed visitor areas are all part of one national park.
'We want the public to understand that the places they enjoy are part of the same national park,' said Superintendent Costa Dillon. 'When the public wants to know directions to an area, rules for use, operating hours, and other information to plan their visit, they need to know that the National Park Service is who to contact.'
Dillon added that visitors often call state, county, and town park departments looking for information on the national park sites. 'This new graphics identity system, coupled with new site signs, will help the public get to the right place the first time.'
As one example, Dillon notes that many people in the area are familiar with places such as as Mount Baldy, Portage Lakefront, Central Beach, Pinhook Bog, Miller Woods, West Beach, and the Chellberg Farm, but may not realize that these are all part of the same national park. Each logo is designed to represent a specific park site in a simplified graphic that is attractive, understandable, and specific. The consistent design of the graphics visually conveys the message that these places are all connected to each other as part of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Back in the late 1930s, a WPA project created series of posters featuring various national parks. These new graphics from Indiana Dunes are reminiscent of those posters, and are very professionally done.
The new logos are trademarked by the National Park Service but will be made available for use by park partners such as Eastern National (the organization that runs the park's bookstore), the Dunes National Park Association (the park's friends group) and Dunes Learning Center. Partners will be allowed to develop sales items using the logos such as clothing, pins, mugs, and patches that will help raise funds for the park and the park's programs.
The new logos are part of the National Park Service's ongoing efforts to increase awareness of the park, including new entrance and site signs, new wayside exhibits, and new trailhead information boards installed over the past five years.
If you'd like to learn more about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, you'll find additional details on the park website.