Lake Michigan - Hammond Beach Area

  Every Hammond kid fantasized about a day of swimming in Lake Michigan
on a hot summer day!

Long before the Environmental Protection Agency and Greenpeace were organized, kids used to swim in a mixture of detergent suds from the Lever Brother's Rinso plant, and the oil slick left behind by the iron ore boats as they made their way between the Gary steel mills and northern Minnesota (Lake Superior).  They kind of cancelled each other out and you always went home a little cleaner and much cooler at the end of the day.
Of course there were a lot of dead fish and smelly seaweed riding the crest of each wave, but that was all part of the fun!



This new bath house was built in 1910 at a cost of $20,000, a serious sign that City Fathers recognized the importance of this natural lakefront treasure.


Jean Shepherd writes,
"I will have to describe to you what a lake in the summer of Northern Indiana is like. To begin with, heat, in Indiana, is something else again. It descends like a 300-pound fat lady onto a picnic bench in the middle of July. It can literally be sliced into chunks and stored away in the basement to use in winter; on cold days you just bring it out and turn it on. Indiana heat is not a meteorological phenomenon -- it is a solid element, something you can grab by the handles. Almost every day in the summer the whole town is just shimmering in front of you. You'd look across the street and skinny people would be all fat and wiggly like in the fun-house mirrors at Coney Island. The asphalt in the streets would bubble and hiss like a pot of steaming Ralston.





That kind of heat and sun produces mirages. All it takes is good flat country, a nutty sun, and insane heat and, by George, you're looking at Cleveland 200 miles away. I remember many times standing out in center field on an incinerating day in mid-August, the prairie stretching out endlessly in all directions, and way out past the swamp would be this kind of tenuous, shadowy, cloud-like thing shimmering just above the horizon. It would be the Chicago skyline, upside down, just hanging there in the sky..."
Jean Shepherd,
"In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash."


Hammond Beach / Bathhouse looking West

    And, of course, the city's power plant found a home with unlimited amount of water for cooling as well as an unlimited place for dumping.  

Remnants of Fishing Pier and Breakwater

  The Hammond Bath House is long since gone and a creative photographer was able to find this quiet spot to take a modern picture of Hammond's lakefront.    



But this is Hammond's new "natural resource,"
Casino Gaming!  The old invitation, "Let's go to the beach!" and been replaced by "Let's go to the boats!"

There are still spots to swim, and the quality of the water has been improved.  The fish have returned and the Hammond waterfront is now a splendid playground once again.