Visitors to Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm in Porter might not know that Joseph Bailly’s 1800s home helped bring the Calumet area into a well-developed part of Northwest Indiana.
It is now bringing historical significance and scenic and entertainment value to the Indiana Dunes National Park.
“Our mission is preserving and sharing the stories, so people better understand the background of the early settlement of Northwest Indiana and its settlers,” says Bruce Rowe, the national park’s supervisory park ranger and public information officer.
Bailly (1774-1835), a fur trader and an early settler in Northwest Indiana, opened his trading store just six years after Indiana became a state in 1816. His post was the only waystation for travelers from Chicago to Detroit.
According to the official history of the homestead, Bailly came into more than 2,000 acres, including the homestead, in the 1830s. His wife and children inherited the lands. In the 1850s, a son-in-law recruited Swedish immigrants from Chicago to operate a family sawmill using timber from the heavily forested land to supply railroads expanding in the area. The immigrants bought land from the family and settled in several log cabins on farms once part of the Bailly Homestead.
Rowe explains that though the Bailly Homestead building is closed for repairs, but the land and Chellberg Farm are welcoming visitors. Among the most popular attractions for summer and fall are the farm animals.
“For quite a few years they were gone because there was no way to care for them. But now we have partnerships with 4-H'ers and local farms that own all the animals and can care for them.”
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Every Sunday through Oct. 27, visitors can views and feed the cows, goats, turkeys, chickens and pigs.
“Adults enjoy it as much as the kids do. It’s a great addition to the park to have the animals back at Chellberg Farm,” says Rowe.
The season’s final ranger-led Bailly-Chellberg history hike, including its unusual cemetery, will be Aug. 25. People can also hike the area at other times without the ranger.
“The Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm area of the park is not a dune area but a beautiful wooded area. People love the fall here, with lots of maple trees providing so many colors, though really it’s a beautiful hike in winter and spring, too,” says Rowe.
The annual Indiana Dunes Apple Festival at Chellberg Farm draws 3,000 to 4,000 people in its two-day run, set this year for Sept. 21-22. The event includes hayrides, children’s games, production of cider and other apple edibles, apple chucking, food vendors and music.
“We get lots of comments about the family friendly atmosphere. It’s a nice turn back to earlier times and people really enjoy it,” says Rowe.
“The goal is to get the public engaged and connecting with those stories,” says Rowe.