Cedar Lake
Cedar Lake, Indiana

The Monon Train

    An early 1900's photo of the Monon Railway Station in Cedar Lake. The water tower supplied water to the steam engine and this stop eventually grew to include a stop for tourists, as well.


    The Monon Train made its way from Chicago and Hammond to bring visitors to this rural Cedar Lake getaway.  Monon ran four trains each day. This photo is of "the picnic train," bringing people from the city of Chicago (60 miles) to the country and Cedar Lake, to enjoy the day.

People from Chicago enjoyed the ride and the beaches of Cedar Lake. A pedestrian bridge can be seen at the left for the safety and convenience of passengers.

    This is a close up of "the picnic train"
out of Chicago and Hammond.





Cedar Lake had always been an attractive spot for Potawatomie Indians who had a summer camp.  Hunting and fishing were good,  providing an ample supply of food for the Native Americans prior to 1650.

"Indian villages in Lake County were numerous. More or less temporary they were inconspicuously located, always away from the main trails. Their summer homes were on Cedar Lake, Fancher Lake (Crown Point), Wood's Mill near Hobart, and in the high groves along the  Eagle, Cedar and West Creeks. Favorite sites for winter homes were the islands in the Kankakee and on the ridges along the Calumet."


Source: The Calumet Region Historical Guide, 1939,
"Workers of the Writers' Program of the WPA," p. 13.



  With the attraction of Cedar Lake, early settlers began moving into the neighborhood, replacing the teepees and hogans of the Potawatomi with rudely designed log cabins.
  The land was relatively inexpensive with building lots starting at $75 and promoted by S.C. Bartlett, a local developer.

He had his own train stop along the Monon Railway to intercept visitors heading for the beach.


The Bartlett Realty rail stop at Cedar Lake.




Keep in mind that in order for young women to get into a public display wearing bathing suits, it helped if you had a religious motif behind your activity.  The Moody Bible Institute established a "summer camp" and conference center to this end.  It was an immediate hit with many young people.

(Note: No obesity problem here in this 1909 photo.)






       "At the other end of the lake is the Roller Rink. There's always a Roller Rink. You can hear that old electric organ going, playing "Heartaches," and you can hear the sound of the roller skates:

       "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... ssshhhhhhhhh,,, ssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh,,,:

        "And the fistfights breaking out. The Roller Rink in heat. The Roller Rink Nut was an earlier incarnation of the Drive-In Movie Nut. He was the kind who was very big with stainless steel diners, motels, horror movies and frozen egg rolls. A close cousin of the Motorcycle Clod, he went ape for chicks with purple eyelids. You know the crowd. Crewcuts, low foreheads, rumbles hollering, belching, drinking beer, roller skating on one foot, wearing black satin jackets with SOUTH SIDE A.C. lettered in white on the back around a white-winged roller-skated foot.  The kind that hangs the stuff in the back windows of their '53 Mercuries; a huge pair of foam-rubber dice, a skull and crossbones, hula-hula dolls, and football players - Pros, of course, with little heads that bob up and down."

Jean Shepherd, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash"


Another picture of the Roller Rink (Midway Gardens) in this 1935 setting.

Even today in this Google Earth image, you can see the shallowness of the lake with the muddy consistency of the water.


        "The water in these lakes is not the water you know about. It is composed of roughly ten percent waste glop spewed out by Shell, Sinclair, Phillips and the Grasselli Chemical Corporation;  twelve percent used detergent; thirty-five percent thick gruel composed of decayed garter snakes, deceased toads, fermenting crappies, and a strange, unidentifiable liquid that holds it all together. No one is quite sure what that is, because everybody is afraid to admit what it really is. They don't want to look at it too closely..."

Jean Shepherd, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash"


         "Crappies are a special breed of Midwestern fish, created by God for the express purpose of surviving in water that would kill a bubonic-plague bacillus.  They have never been known to fight, or even faintly struggle. I guess when you're a crappie, you figure it's no use anyway. One thing is as bad as another.  They're just down there in the soup. No one quite knows that they eat, if anything, but everybody's fishing for them.  At two o'clock in the morning..."

       Each boat contains a minimum of nine guys and fourteen cases of beer. And once in a while, in the darkness, is heard the sound of a guy falling over backwards into the slime:


      "Oh! Ah! Help, help!"  A piteous cry in the darkness. Another voice:

      "Hey, for God's sake, Charlie's fallen in again!  Grab the oar!"

       And then it slowly dies down. Charlie is hauled out of the goop and is lying on the bottom of the boat, urping up dead lizards and Atlas Prager. Peace reigns again."

Jean Shepherd, "In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash"





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