While the US National Parks are protected and open for all to enjoy, getting there often depends on having an automobile. That is not necessarily the case for the Indiana Dunes National Seashore, a short train ride from Chicago.
MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — To the uninitiated, driving along 11th Street through the downtown of this northern Indiana community can be an unnerving experience.
While most motorists are accustomed to sharing the road with bicycles, few have ever had the odd experience of sharing the street with a train. In only a smattering of American towns do the train tracks run right down the main drag. In even fewer do suitcase-toting folks board a passenger train as automobile drivers wait patiently alongside.
Yet in Michigan City, the strange sight of trains stopping for traffic signals beside motorists is an everyday occurrence as the rail cars of the historic South Shore Line travel between downtown Chicago and the eastern terminus at the airport in South Bend.
Along the 90-mile route, sightseeing and recreational opportunities are plentiful, particularly in and near the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Getting there by train provides an alternative to driving, especially when that involves the headache of trying to flee the city on a Friday in the summertime.
For Chicagoans, “it’s like getting to a different world,” noted Ken Kosky, promotions director for Indiana Dunes Tourism. “They enjoy the 15 miles of spacious, uncrowded beaches, the towering sand dunes, the miles of unique hiking trails.”
Hiking, or biking, is part of the equation when taking the train, because both the Beverly Shores and Dune Park stations are one and two miles, respectively, from the sand.
Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies Dean Greg Buckley has offered a SUST 390 Special Topics course focusing on the national parks, and the preservation and use of public lands is discussed in several Roosevelt University seminars. For more information on these courses, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email applyRU@roosevelt.edu.