Undated photo but shows the early days of Burns Harbor. (photo courtesy: Ports of Indiana)
Aerial of Burns Harbor (photo courtesy: Ports of Indiana)
The Ports of Indiana is today celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Burns Harbor facility, an economic lynchpin for Indiana to global markets via the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
The concept of creating a deepwater port along the southern shores of Lake Michigan goes back as far as the 1930s, but it took several decades before business leaders decided to make the investment in infrastructure.
“It all really started to come together in 1961 when visionary leaders decided that Indiana should invest in freight transportation and develop an intermodal port,” said Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Director Ian Hirt. “Since then, the port has far exceeded original expectations by generating significant economic rewards for Northwest Indiana and the entire state.”
It has been a half-century since the launch of the Ports of Indiana, the organization overseeing the operations of the port.
According to the port authority, the vision of the first port in Portage became reality in 1965 when Indiana Governor Roger Branigin and the Indiana General Assembly secured $35 million in funding.
They saw an opportunity to take advantage of exports markets after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959.
It took most of the decade to establish, construct and develop the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which opened in July 1970.
Wawaka-based Frick Services Inc. is one of the first companies to establish facilities at Burns Harbor. The agribusiness company operates bulk commodity warehouse facilities.
“From the very beginning, the port’s synergies have served our family business and customers with the fullest satisfaction. The entire operation has contributed to our success,” said Dan Frick, owner of Frick Services.
Facts about The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor:
- Size: nearly 600 acres of land
- Tenants/clients: 30 port companies, including 15 steel-related companies and three steel mills.
- Traffic: 9,000 rail cars, 75 ships, 350,000 trucks, 375 barges and 200 Great Lakes vessels a year.
- Jobs: Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor accounts for 30,000 jobs and contributes $4.8 billion annually in economic activity.