Santa Is Coming to Town!

We are planning to bring back Santa in the Caboose this year!

However, we are making some changes to the event. To limit the number of people gathered in the close quarters of our small transfer caboose, we will not be taking nor printing photos.

Parents will still have a private visit with Santa, but now, for a donation, parents can take their own photos and even videotape their child’s Santa visit.

We also are bringing back our Holiday Bake Sale for the weekend, too!

Santa in the Caboose dates are Saturday, December 10th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, December 11th, noon to 4 p.m.

We’ve Entered the 21st Century!

Beginning October 25th, the Griffith Historical Society has a webcam broadcasting live on YouTube from our EJ&E Interlocking Tower!

It is thanks to member John Wotkun’s hard work that made this happen. Thanks, too, to Logan Kulinski, our website manager.

A bit of history. Once Griffith had five railroads crossing at Broad Street. As many as 180 trains a day traveled on the 11 tracks that made up the interlocking. The railroads were: Michigan Central, Erie, Elgin Joliet & Eastern, Grand Trunk Western/Canadian National, and the Chesapeake & Ohio.

Today, only Canadian National operates routes through Griffith. However, the former Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway tracks still cross those of the former Grand Truck at the Griffith interlocking.

These connecting tracks can be seen allowing trains to connect between these two routes. As a result, a number of different railroads are on the move though Griffith every day.

The Griffith Historical Society’s EJ&E tower webcam is offered through the Steel Highway YouTube page. Follow this link to view the live feed: https://youtu.be/go55919p86I

Beautiful Memories

These Griffith Centennial Black-Eyed Susans flourished this summer in Board Member Karen Kulinski’s back yard.

This plant was the official flower of the town’s Centennial in 2004. A couple of Susans were set out that year in the Kulinski back yard and have made themselves at home. It doesn’t seem possible that celebration of Griffith and its history was almost 20 years ago.

The Griffith Historical Society continues to celebrate our town and its history every day. Stop down to Franklin Center’s lower level and view our newly reimagined displays, featuring The Story of Griffith from its damp beginnings, and our Wall of Honor celebrating Griffith’s veterans.

The museum is open in September and October on the second and fourth Saturdays from 10 to 2, enter through door G. In November we go back to our normal first and third Saturday schedule.

Saturday Changes for September and October

Our Franklin Museum will reopen after our summer closure, but with different dates for September and October.

For those two months, we will be open from 10 to 2 on the second and fourth Saturdays, starting September 10th.

Stop down and see our new displays telling Griffith’s story from its beginning through the 1920’s, and our new veterans’ Wall of Honor displays.

The Hess Express Out and About!

Had a great time again with our Hess Express Barrel Train at Munster’s 27th Annual National Night Out Against Crime Celebration on August 2nd. Thank you to the Munster Police Department and Officer James Ghrist for inviting us to be part of it. And to top it off, the train made it into The Times newspaper, too, with member Craig Hoot driving it!

Some Updates

A NEW PAGE

We have a new page on our website featuring the rebuild of our C&O Inspection Car that had been left in pieces when a renovation project was abandoned several years ago by the person who began it.

Thankfully, two men who have a passion for these vintage work cars stepped up and are bringing our little car back to life. Look for information and photos here.

FRANKLIN CENTER MUSEUM CLOSED UNTIL SEPTEMBER
               
The Model Railroad group at Franklin Center has closed down for the summer. When they are not open, we do not have easy access to bathroom facilities, so we must close also. We will be open the 3rd Saturday in September, the 17th, from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.

As we did this past summer and through last winter, we will be again working on new displays during our downtime. In particular, we will be setting up displays in our new school and school sports room.

Farewell, Dear Friend

Mother. Teacher. Wife. Bookstore owner. Grandmother. Genealogist. Great Grandmother. Historian. Friend.

Maxine Hess was all these things and more during her long life, but today we write about Maxine as Historian and Friend.

Maxine was a contributing member of the Griffith Historical Society for more than 30 years and served many terms on our Board of Directors. She worked with us in maintaining the Grand Trunk Depot Museum, creating and growing our Griffith Historical Park, and establishing our Griffith History Rooms at Franklin Center.

There wasn’t an event or activity that Maxine didn’t volunteer for, among them working the Historical Society booth at our annual Railroad Fair for 19 years; scheduling elves for our Santa in the Caboose every Christmas and working the event; helping set up our historical rooms at Franklin Center; and starting a veterans registry that we will continue in her name.

Maxine’s legacy will live on with The Hess Express, the barrel train for children she was instrumental in our acquiring and which was named for her. The train not only is a source of income for our Society, but also provides fun times for so many children each year.

Over the years so many Griffith Historical Society members have become Life Members, like Maxine and her late husband, Jay, were. But more than that, our working together to preserve our town’s history resulted in life-long friendships, as well.

So, today, we say goodbye to our friend, Maxine. She will not be forgotten.

About Our Summer Activities…

These are unusual times — indeed there’s been no time like it since the 1918 worldwide Spanish Flu pandemic killed millions of people. (You know we’d have to get a little history in this article somewhere!) But times are dire now, and they call for unusual measures. No one knows when life will get back to normal, so for now, we cannot make any plans for the summer. Check this website in the coming weeks for news about any activities that might be coming up. And please do everything you can to stay safe and well.

Griffith Historical Society hosted its first Calumet Outdoors Tour

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On November 16th, we hosted a Calumet Outdoor Series Tour, which came from a contact at the Field Museum.

Mario Longoni, Urban Anthropology Manager at The Field Museum, is the Calumet Outdoor Coordinator and is working to unite the Northwest Indiana historical societies to help preserve, promote and expand their combined resources and assets for the mutual benefit of the residents and enthusiasts of regional history.

The plan is for these different area historical societies to meet every three months to learn more about each other,  sharing each other’s history and local stories and how they operate within their communities. In addition, the Outdoor Series will be creating a traveling relic tour to offer additional opportunities to provide further education on the history and what makes each of the areas unique.

Considering this was our first time ever hosting something like this, it was a great turn-out. The twenty-four people who attended could not say enough great things about how beautiful Griffith is, and how supported we were with help from the community for our event. The Griffith Fire Department came out and grilled hot dogs, with proceeds going to the Historical Society, and the Griffith Girl Scout troop 15476 provided complimentary hot chocolate for visitors.

Even our signature Santa in a Caboose made an early stop to be available for the kids and a member of our Town Council played a major role in this event.

These visitors from the Calumet and Chicagoland  areas toured our Griffith Historical Park with its Depot Museum, Railroad Cars and Watch Tower. Inside the depot and railroad cars they were treated to a verbal and visual historical display of our town’s origins and railroading heritage presented by Karen Kulinski, our museum curator. 

The group was also able to visit our Franklin Center Museum with its artifacts and displays of our town’s history, and stop for lunch or refreshments in town before going back home.

Developed from an interview with Toni Rickert, Vice President, and Karen Kulinski, Secretary and Museum Curator, of the Griffith Historical Society.

Downtown Griffith Lantern Tour

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Lantern light lends an old-time aura to the town’s first postmaster’s house as walkers stop to listen to some old-time Griffith history told by Peter Ghrist, who led the tour, but is off camera. 

The Griffith Lantern Tours were Officer Ghrist’s idea as a fun way to let people know about the early days of their town and, hopefully, to raise the profile of the Griffith Historical Society, as well. 

The tour features old-time photos blown up so walkers standing in front of a current structure can see what once stood there. We are grateful to Walgreens, 407 W. Glen Park, Griffith, for sponsoring the event. 

The tours ran every week from early September through early October. Plans are to continue the tours in the spring.