From a Scottish castle to a national park, Northwest Indiana offers several interesting spots to check out on a late summer road trip.
Times of Northwest Indiana business reporter Joseph Pete took a look at the sights in what he described as the “one-of-a-kind” Calumet Region of the Midwest in his new book, Secret Northwest Indiana: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
The region extends from Chicago’s Far South Side, through the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana, and into Southwest Michigan.
Here’s a closer look at three of the most interesting places in the region.
A Scottish castle in Rust Belt Indiana. (Yes, really).
Meyer’s Castle is a 28-room estate located just off US 30 in Dyer that’s modeled after a Scottish castle. Architect L. Cosby Bernard Sr. designed the castle for Joseph Ernest Meyer, one of Northwest Indiana’s first millionaires, Pete wrote in his book.
“He came here from Wisconsin and founded the Indiana Botanic Gardens, which was this massive national mail order catalog that specialized in medicinal herbs they grew,” Pete recently told WBEZ’s Reset. “They grew a lot of the herbs right off the banks of the Little Calumet River in Hammond.”
The castle, which today looks like a haunted house, was where Meyer based his operations in the 1930s.
Pete said Meyer had seen a castle that “really impressed him” when he was traveling in Scotland and wanted a replica of it.
The eccentric property offers visitors replicas of the Easter Island heads, alligator statues poking out in the garden, gargoyles looming over the front gates and wrought-iron street lamps.
Go scuba diving and explore a shipwreck from the 1900s.
The J.D. Marshall Nature Preserve in Indiana Dunes State Park is based around a shipwreck about 25 miles underwater in Lake Michigan and 300 yards from the park’s shore, while another preserve for a separate shipwreck may soon be created in Michigan City.
If you’re not adventurous enough to go scuba diving, visit the J.D. Marshall Nature Preserve’s interpretive center, where you can check out a lot of the recovered debris from the ship, Pete said.
In Michigan City, Indiana University is looking into establishing a preserve for the shipwreck site of the Muskegon. The 211-foot freighter caught fire and its remains were abandoned in Lake Michigan, the South Bend Tribune reported.
Indulge in this weekend’s Pierogi Fest — and plan to return for the Pierogi Drop on New Year’s Eve.
The Pierogi Fest celebrates Polish and Eastern European heritage at a three-day event in downtown Whiting, with multiple stages and dozens of food vendors.
At the New Year’s Eve Pierogi Drop, organizers take a styrofoam pierogi, raise it 60 to 100 feet using a crane and drop it, like the Ball Drop in New York City.
Revelers will cheer on the display before heading to the beer garden at the nearby Knights of Columbus.
“It’s just kind of meant to be ridiculous as a lot of the Chicago TV stations have been picking it up,” Pete said. “It’s kind of trying to definitely capitalize off the popularity of Pierogi Fest because that draws hundreds of thousands of people to downtown Whiting.”
Bianca Cseke is a digital producer at WBEZ. Follow her @biancacseke1.