Photos and story by: Laura Niemiec
Just a short drive from downtown Michigan City or LaPorte, tucked away in plain sight, is the 150+ acre Hesston Steam Museum. It is a wonder for kids and adults alike.
This past Labor Day weekend, Dig the Dunes stopped by for a visit and to see the unveiling of the restoration of the Porter No. 2 Steam Locomotive.
The Porter narrow gauge steam locomotive was built by H.K. Porter, Inc. in 1911 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It originally hauled bananas for a fruit company in Guatemala before heading back to the United States. In 1985, it was destroyed in the engine house fire at Hesston. Many talented and passionate folks had a hand in the long restoration of the Porter and their pride did not go unnoticed as they spoke enthusiastically about the restoration process.
The Porter is only one of the many trains at Hesston with the largest being the geared steam locomotive, the Shay, built in 1929 for the New Mexico Lumber Company. There are smaller trains, too. If you are from the region, you may remember the Kiddieland Amusement Park. The steam locomotive that once operated there now roams the grounds of Hesston.
While the trains may draw you in, there is more to see. You will also find the Hesston steam-powered sawmill, a blacksmith shop, an electric power plant and stationary engine, steam traction engines, and a steam crane that was originally built for the US Navy in 1941. And, you can’t leave without riding a train! If you have never been to Hesston Steam Museum, or even if it has been a few years or more, we invite you to stop out and experience all they have to offer.
Location: 1201 E 1000 N, La Porte, IN 46350 Website: https://hesston.org/
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