The proposal to link the Pullman State Historic Site with the Indiana Dunes as a Calumet Heritage Area could promote tourism in the region. It's an idea worth pursuing.
On Saturday, promoters of the concept met at the Pullman site.
Mark Bouman, president of the Calumet Heritage Partnership, said there are 49 of these heritage areas nationally. For every federal dollar spent on the heritage area, $5.50 is generated for the local economy, he said.
Turning the Pullman site into a national park would facilitate connecting Pullman and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the Chicago area.
"The mission of the Calumet Heritage Partnership aligns with our responsibility to continue preserving and protecting the Calumet area for future generations," U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky said.
That's happening not just with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore but also throughout Northwest Indiana, through the Marquette Plan to recapture land along the Lake Michigan shoreline for public use.
At the same time, it's important to be able to tell the region's history.
The Indiana Dunes is where early botany experiments were conducted and where the modern science of ecology got its start.
The Pullman site is significant not just because it's where the Pullman Palace Car Co. built a company town but also because of the company's labor history. Early Pullman porters were often freed house slaves.
The National Park Service is studying whether to designate the site as a national historic landmark and what that would mean for the operation of the existing park.
Linking Indiana Dunes and the Pullman site would not only boost tourism but also help residents gain a better appreciation of the area's history as well. Keep pushing forward on this goal.