"Miller: Gary's Lakefront Gem" Miller by sambarnett

Miller Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 29 photos

Although a part of Gary today, Miller is decades older than the "Magic City of Steel." Following the construction of the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana (later the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern) Railroad in 1851 a very small community slowly grew along the line. When Miller stalwarts Robert and Drusilla Carr moved to a pine cabin near the Grand Calumet River in 1874 their only neighbors, according to local historian James Lane, "were a boat builder named Allen Dutcher, a hunter-trapper of French and Indian descent named Jacques Beaubien, and an ex-fugitive slave named Davy Crockett."
The marshy, sandy land prevented larger-scale farming but many Swedes, escaping hardship in the old country settled around the area known as Miller's Junction. The 1874 construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Line provided some of the few residents with work shipping sand and ice to Chicago as well as work along the rail line. The founding of the nearby Aetna Powder Company provided more, if dangerous, employment opportunities to the early settlers.

With the founding of US Steel's Gary Works and the city of Gary in 1906, Miller residents saw a major change in lifestyle. Not for much longer would the cries of wolves haunt the nights, nor would flocks of bald eagles, number in the hundreds, congregate on the beach. Residents of the new, "instant city" of Gary flocked to the wild, sandy Lake Michigan shores. Some like Drusilla Carr rented land for beach cottages, all the while engaging in legal battles to protect her claims to the land. Others, like Alice Mable Gray, the highly intelligent University of Chicago graduate, short-time computer in the United States Naval Observatory and the legendary "Diana of the Dunes," died seeking solace and communion with nature. In 1918, Gary officially annexed Miller.

Even today Miller still retains its own feel. Partly out of community pride but perhaps also to disassociate themselves from the blighted core of Gary proper, residents are more likely to refer to themselves as "Millerites" rather than "Garyites."

  • Intro Updated Feb 25, 2003
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sambarnett

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