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Porter County, Indiana

Porter County, Indiana
Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Indiana
Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso, Indiana
Motto: "Front Porch of the Dunes"
Location in the state of Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Indiana's location in the U.S.
Indiana's location in the U.S.
Country United States
State Indiana
Region Northwest Indiana
Metro area Chicago Metropolitan
Established 1836
Named for David Porter
County seat Valparaiso
Largest city Portage (population and area)
 • Type County
 • Body Board of Commissioners
 • Commissioner John A. Evans (R, North)
 • Commissioner Nancy A. Adams (R, Central)
 • Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney (D, South)
 • County Council
 • County 521.8 sq mi (1,351 km2)
 • Land 418.2 sq mi (1,083 km2)
 • Water 103.6 sq mi (268 km2)
 • Metro 10,874 sq mi (28,160 km2)
Area rank 29th largest county in Indiana
 • Region 2,726 sq mi (7,060 km2)
Elevation 843 ft (257 m)
Population (2010)
 • County 164,343
 • Estimate (2013) 166,557
 • Rank 9th largest county in Indiana
374th largest county in U.S.[2]
 • Density 393/sq mi (152/km2)
 • Metro 9,522,434
 • Region 819,537
Time zone Central (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) Central (UTC-5)
ZIP Codes 46301-02, 46304, 46307-08, 46341-42, 46347, 46360, 46368, 46383-85, 46391, 46393
Area code 219
Congressional district 1st
Indiana Senate districts 4th, 5th and 6th
Indiana House of Representatives districts 3rd, 4th, 10th, 19th and 20th
FIPS code 18-127
GNIS feature ID 0450382

U.S. Routes

State Routes


Porter County Regional


East Arm Little Calumet River
Kankakee River
Lake Michigan
Little Calumet River
Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor
Salt Creek

South Shore Line stations

Beverly ShoresDune Park Portage/Ogden Dunes

Public transit V-Line
  • Indiana county number 64
Demographics (2010)[3]
White Black Asian
91.3% 3.0% 1.2%
Islander Native Other Hispanic
(any race)
0.0% 0.3% 4.2% 8.5%

Porter County is a county located in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2010, the population was 164,343.[4] The county seat is Valparaiso.[5]

This county is part of Northwest Indiana as well as the Chicago metropolitan area.

Porter County is the site of the Indiana Dunes, an area of ecological significance.[6][7][8] A museum called the Hour Glass located in Ogden Dunes, contains exhibits that document the ecological significance.[9]


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Major highways 2.1
    • Railroads 2.2
    • Adjacent counties 2.3
    • National protected area 2.4
  • Municipalities 3
    • Cities 3.1
    • Towns 3.2
    • Census-designated places 3.3
  • Townships 4
  • Education 5
    • Colleges and Universities 5.1
    • Public School Districts 5.2
  • Public libraries 6
  • Hospitals 7
  • Climate and weather 8
  • Government 9
    • County elected officials 9.1
  • Demographics 10
  • Porter County Cemeteries 11
  • Porter County Parks 12
  • Cultural Activities 13
    • Museums 13.1
    • Live Theater 13.2
  • See also 14
  • Notes 15
  • References 16
  • Bibliography 17
  • External links 18


The area of Indiana, which became Porter County was occupied by an Algonquian people named by the archeologist as the Huber-Berrien.[10] This was a subsistence culture that arrived after the glaciers retreated somewhere around 15,000 years ago and the rise of glacial Lake Algonquian, 4–8,000 years ago.[11] The Huber-Berrien people were a subsistence society. The native people of this area were next recorded during the Iroquois Wars (1641–1701) as being Potawatomi and Miami. The trading post system used by the French and then the English encouraged native people to live in central villages along major waterways. Therefore, there are no recorded villages within the current boundaries of Porter County. It was not until 1830 when Chiqua's town and Tassinong appear on maps and in records.[10] Chiqua's town is located a mile east of Valparaiso on State Route 2,the old Sauk Trail. Tassinong is south of Valparaiso about 5 miles (8.0 km) on State Route 49 at Baum's Bridge Road, the main route across the Great Kankakee Marsh.[12]

Porter County was formed in 1836. From 1832 to 1836, the area that was to become Porter County was part of La Porte County.[13] It was named for Capt. David Porter, naval officer during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.[14][15]


According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 521.78 square miles (1,351.4 km2), of which 418.15 square miles (1,083.0 km2) (or 80.14%) is land and 103.63 square miles (268.4 km2) (or 19.86%) is water,[16] most of it in Lake Michigan.

Major highways


Amtrak's Wolverine passing through Porter, Indiana

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Franklin Street, east side of the Courthouse Square, Valparaiso
Calumet Avenue downtown Chesterton

The municipalities in Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:



Census-designated places


The 12 townships of Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:


Valparaiso University Chapel

Colleges and Universities

Public School Districts

Public schools in Porter County are administered by several districts, most of which cover areas that roughly follow the county's township boundaries.

High Schools and Middle Schools

Elementary Schools

  • Aylesworth Elementary School
  • Bailly Elementary School
  • Boone Grove Elementary School
  • Brummitt Elementary School
  • Central Elementary School (Portage)
  • Central Elementary School (Valparaiso)
  • Cooks Corners Elementary School
  • Crisman Elementary School
  • Flint Lake Elementary School
  • Hayes Leonard Elementary School
  • Hebron Elementary School
  • Jackson Elementary School
  • John Simatovich Elementary School
  • Jones Elementary School
  • Kouts Elementary School
  • Kyle Elementary School
  • Liberty Elementary School
  • Liberty Intermediate School
  • Memorial Elementary School
  • Morgan Elementary School
  • Myers Elementary School
  • Northview Elementary School
  • Parkview Elementary School
  • Paul Saylor Elementary School
  • Pine Elementary School
  • Porter Lakes Elementary School
  • South Haven Elementary School
  • Thomas Jefferson Elementary School
  • Union Center Elementary School
  • Washington Township Elementary School
  • Westchester Intermediate School
  • Yost Elementary School

Public libraries

The county is served by two public library systems:

Porter County Public Library has its main branch in Valparaiso with branches in Hebron, Kouts, Portage and South Haven.[17]

Westchester Public Library has its main branch, the Thomas Library, in Chesterton with a branch, the Hageman Library, in Porter.[18]


  • Porter Health Care System – 301 beds[19]
    • Portage Hospital – Portage
    • Porter Regional Hospital – Valparaiso

Climate and weather

Valparaiso, Indiana
Climate chart ()
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[20]

In recent years, average temperatures in Valparaiso have ranged from a low of 15 °F (−9 °C) in January to a high of 83 °F (28 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in July 1934. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.82 inches (46 mm) in February to 4.66 inches (118 mm) in June.[20]


The county government is a constitutional body, and is granted specific powers by the Constitution of Indiana, and by the Indiana Code.

County Council: The county council is the legislative branch of the county government and controls all the spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected from county districts. The council members serve four-year terms. They are responsible for setting salaries, the annual budget and special spending. The council also has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes and service taxes.[21][22]

Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county is made of a board of commissioners. The commissioners are elected county-wide, in staggered terms, and each serves a four-year term. One of the commissioners, typically the most senior, serves as president. The commissioners are charged with executing the acts legislated by the council, the collection of revenue and managing the day-to-day functions of the county government.[21][22]

Court: The county maintains a small claims court that can handle some civil cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of four years and must be a member of the Indiana Bar Association. The judge is assisted by a constable who is also elected to a four-year term. In some cases, court decisions can be appealed to the state level circuit court.[22]

County Officials: The county has several other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk Each of these elected officers serves a term of four years and oversees a different part of county government. Members elected to county government positions are required to declare party affiliations and to be residents of the county.[22]

Porter County is part of Indiana's 1st congressional district and in 2008 was represented by Pete Visclosky in the United States Congress.[23]

County elected officials


As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 164,343 people, 61,998 households, and 43,901 families residing in the county.[29] The population density was 393.0 inhabitants per square mile (151.7/km2). There were 66,179 housing units at an average density of 158.3 per square mile (61.1/km2).[16] The racial makeup of the county was 91.3% white, 3.0% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 8.5% of the population.[29] In terms of ancestry, 29.1% were German, 18.5% were Irish, 10.1% were Polish, 9.7% were English, 5.8% were Italian, and 5.6% were American.[30]

Of the 61,998 households, 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 29.2% were non-families, and 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.07. The median age was 38.4 years.[29]

The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $73,065. Males had a median income of $59,542 versus $35,534 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,922. About 6.6% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.[31]

Porter County Cemeteries

The earliest Cemetery in Porter County is the Bailly Cemetery, 1827.[34] After the original burial in 1827, numerous other burials occurred. Additional cemeteries were created as the population grew. Early cemeteries were often family owned or church related. As communities grew, community cemeteries developed. The newest cemetery in the county is Angel Crest Cemetery, just off Indiana State Road 49, north of Valparaiso.

Porter County Parks

Porter County has grown from a single park, Sunset Hill Farm County Park, to four, including: Calumet Trail, Dunn's Bridge County Park, and the newest, Brinkca-Cross Gardens.[35]

  • Brinkca-Cross Gardens Located at 27 E. Furness Rd. in Pine Township the garden offers 4 acres (1.6 ha) of trees and shrubs. Slopes and hills create vistas that of flower gardens and numerous hidden plantings, imported by the team of William Brincka and Basil Cross. The Hosta Garden contains many species propagated by Mr. Brincka.[36]
  • Calumet Trail. The trail is 9.1 miles (14.6 km) long, parallel to U.S. 12, at the north end of the county. The trail is a mixed use trail, designed for walking, running, biking and cross-country skiing. Its eastern end is just north of where U.S. 12 crosses the tracks in The Town of the Pines. The trail follows the power line west, ending at Mineral Springs Road, where it crosses the railroad track. A restroom can be found at the western end. Water is not available.[37]
  • Dunn's Bridge County Park. Located on the southern boundary of the county on County Road 500 East, Dunn's Bridge spans the [38]
  • Sunset Hill Farm County Park. Located at 775 Meridian Rd, just south of U.S. 6 the Park consist of 238 acres (96 ha). There are several habitats accessible by trail, including; prairie lands, ponds and woods. Built around the Col. Murray farm, the open meadows are used for festivals and events. Colonel Robert Heffron Murray, a Chicago businessman. He and his first wife, Sue Horton Murray purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) in 1934. With additional purchases, the farm grew to its present size. After the Colonel's death, his second wife Elizabeth Murray and ownership was placed in the county.[39]

Cultural Activities


Live Theater

  • 4th Street Theater is a community theater in Chesterton.[41]
  • Chicago Street Theatre is a community theater in Valparaiso.[41]
  • Front Porch Music is a music supply store that offer a weekly 'open mic' night as sponsor concerts in Valparaiso.[41]
  • Memorial Opera House presents live theater and a variety of other monthly programs..[41]
  • Valparaiso Theatrical Company travels to different venues in Porter County presenting live theater with the proceeds benefitting a variety of charities..[41]
  • Valparaiso University Center for the Arts is the Valparaiso University's performing arts center. They sponsor live stage performances of music, theater and dance.[41]

See also


  1. ^ Other = Combined percentages for American Indian or Alaska Native; Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; other races; and two or more races
  2. ^ a b Population is 3,097 within Porter County; 3,936 reside in Lake County


  1. ^ a b c d "Porter County Elections Results". Porter County Board of Elections. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  2. ^ "USA Counties in Profile". STATS Indiana. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  3. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics 2010, Table DP-1, 2010 Demographic Profile Data. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  4. ^ a b "Porter County QuickFacts".  
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  6. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2006). Alice Gray, Dorothy Buell, and Naomi Svihla: Preservationists of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 1.
  7. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2009)
  8. ^ The Historical Roots of the Nature Conservancy in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland Region: From Science to Preservation. The South Shore Journal, 3.
  9. ^ Smith, S. & Mark, S. (2007). The cultural impact of a museum in a small community: The Hour Glass of Ogden Dunes. The South Shore Journal, 2.
  10. ^ a b Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History; Helen Hornbeck Tanner; University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma; 1987; Map 5
  11. ^ Geology of the Great Lakes; Jack L. Hough; University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1958; p 276
  12. ^ One of the Earliest Authentic Histories of Porter County, Indiana; From 1832 to 1876; Deborah H. Shults-Gay; circa 1917
  13. ^ Calumet Beginnings: Schoon, Kenneth J.
  14. ^ Baker, Ronald L.; Marvin Carmony (1995). Indiana Place Names. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 133.  
  15. ^ De Witt Clinton Goodrich & Charles Richard Tuttle (1875). An Illustrated History of the State of Indiana. Indiana: R. S. Peale & co. p. 570. 
  16. ^ a b "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County".  
  17. ^ "Porter County Public Library". Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  18. ^ "Westchester Public Library". Retrieved 2014-06-27. 
  19. ^ "Porter Health Care System". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  20. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Valparaiso, Indiana". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  21. ^ a b  
  22. ^ a b c d  
  23. ^ "US Congressman Pete Visclosky". US Congress. Retrieved 2014-06-05. 
  24. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  25. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  29. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data".  
  30. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates".  
  31. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates".  
  32. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table DP03, Selected Economic Charactaristics. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  33. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. 2008-2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table DP04, Selected Housing Charactaristics. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  34. ^ Bailly Cemetery, at Baileytown, near Porter, Westchester Township, Porter County Indiana; Cemetery of the Pioneer family of Honore Gratien Joseph Bailly de Messein and Marie LeFevre, Burials 1827 to 1918; compiled by Olga Mae Schiemann; Chicago, Illinois; 1952
  35. ^ "Porter County Parks and Recreation". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  36. ^ "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Binkca-Cross Gardens". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  37. ^ "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Calumet Trail". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  38. ^ "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Dunn's Bridge County Park". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  39. ^ "Porter County Parks and Recreation - Sunset Hill Farm County Park". Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  40. ^ a b c d e f g h i Indiana Dunes Country Activities Guide, The Official Guide to Porter County, Indiana; The Indiana Dunes: 2015, pg 19
  41. ^ a b c d e f Indiana Dunes Country Activities Guide, The Official Guide to Porter County, Indiana; The Indiana Dunes: 2015, pg 22-23


  • Cutler, Harry G.; History of Porter County, Indiana: A Narrative Account of Its Historical Progress, Its People and Its Principal Interests, Volume 1; Lewis Publishing Company; Chicago, Illinois; 1912
  • Eggleston, Larry G.; Porter County Lakes and Resorts; Arcadia Publishing; 2004; 128 pages.
  • Shults-Gay, Deborah H.; One of the Earliest Authentic Histories of Porter County, Indiana from 1832 to 1876; Valparaiso, Indiana; 1917

External links

  • Official Porter County website
  • Porter County GenWeb – county history and genealogy website
  • Porter County Municipal Airport (VPZ)
  • Center Township Trustee Website (Information about township assistance for those experiencing financial difficulties.)
  • Center Township Trustee Facebook Page (Information about Center Township)
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