People often talk about "staycations" these days. And if you are staying in Whiting this summer, there is definitely enough to do all summer long, from lying in the sun at Whihala Beach to listening to a symphony orchestra under the stars, to cheering at baseball games, to checking out the cars at Cruise Nights, to admiring art at gallery openings and dining at different restaurants and ice cream parlors.
But back in the 1890's and early 1900's, Whiting was the vacation spot for hunters and fishermen. There were hunting resorts near Lake and 119th streets and Egger's Park.
A few of the original buildings still exist today, across from Franklin School. These are the remnants of what's was known as Tim’s Hunting Resort.
Charles Kreuter's Resort lay near Lake George and there were also preserves and camping places along Wolf Lake where hunters would seek out minks and foxes. Ambitious folks in the area actually made their living by selling frogs and fish and wild game.
Beautiful Berry Lake was famous for hunting and fishing. The Berry Lake Lodge was built by early Whitingite Henry Eggers. There exist photos of a Colonel Lamereaux and a Fred Weller, dressed in their dapper suits with bowler hats, relaxing on its shores in front of an early resort.
The Berry Lake area was also home to lots of huckleberries, raspberries and strawberries. Whether the lake received its name from its vast fields of wild berries, or was named for the Beary family who owned a hunting lodge there in the late 1890's, it was definitely a getaway spot for early settlers in the region.
I've been told that Berry Lake, which was shallow at best, was eventually drained for the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal.
Editor U.G. Swartz wrote that after 1860, deer in the area disappeared (although an entire family of them was spotted last month near Calumet College of St. Joseph). Swartz writes, "Whiting remained a community of hunters for nearly 40 years. . .with the supply of ducks and wild turkeys undiminished and apparently inexhaustible."
To show how plentiful game was back in those days, Swartz writes a story about Old Mrs. Henry Eggers' mother, who lived on Berry Lake. Evidently, she was trying to get her grandchildren to go to sleep but the quacking of the ducks outside was maddening.
So this determined grandma took her shotgun and went outside and, trying to at least scare the feathered fiends away, took a wild shot at them. According to Swartz, with that one shot, old Mrs. Eggers "brought down nine mallards."
Not too far away, near the 106th Street Bridge, it was written that the bridge keeper used to walk up and down the bridge with a shotgun and would manage to bag 15 to 20 ducks by the time he officially began work in the morning.
Today, if you're a careless driver, you could probably knock off an obnoxious goose or two at Whiting's Lakefront Park, but other wildlife is returning to the area, too. Hopefully, they'll only be "shot" with somebody's digital camera.