Indiana: Porter County

Porter County (pop. 164,343) is east of Lake County, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its southern border is the 133-mile Kankakee River, a tributary of the Illinois River.

The only Porter County in the U.S.

The county was named for naval officer David Porter (1780-1843), who served in the War of 1812.

Portrayed by Jeff Chandler in this 1952 movie

The 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has 15 disconnected pieces of land along a 25-mile stretch of Lake Michigan. Indiana Dunes State Park is within the national lakeshore.

Indiana Dunes in the 1960s

The county seat of Porter County is the city of Valparaiso (pop. 31,730).

Porter County Courthouse (1883)

The city was originally named Portersville, but it was changed in 1837 to Valparaiso after Valparaiso, Chile, where David Porter captained U.S. ships against the English in the War of 1812 Battle of Valparaiso.

Valparaiso is the home of Valparaiso University, founded in 1859 as one of the first coeducational colleges in the U.S. It has about 4,500 students. It is now affiliated with the Lutheran church.

Chapel of the Resurrection (1959)

The old Porter County Jail and Sheriff’s House (1871) now contains the Porter County Museum of History.

The jail moved out in 1974.

Indiana-born businessman Orville Redenbacher had his popcorn business in Valparaiso. The city has had an annual Popcorn Festival since 1979.

Orvillle statue

The largest city in Porter County is Portage (pop. 36,828), along Lake Michigan.

Chicago skyline is visible across the lake.

Farther east, in the town of Beverly Shores (pop. 613), are five buildings that were moved from the “Homes of Tomorrow” exhibition at the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago.

Florida Tropical House

NEXT: LA PORTE COUNTY

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