City of Lake Station reflects on past and steps into future as unified community

City of Lake Station reflects on past and steps into future as unified community

The City of Lake Station has a rich and vivid history, and like many of the cities that populate the Region, Lake Station was built on the backs of industry. Founded in 1851, Lake Station was created in conjunction with the Michigan Central Railroad coming to the area. This resulted in the first railroad station in Lake County. The land that now comprises the city was once home to the Potawatomi Native American tribe. The geography of Lake Station is unique, as is all of Northwest Indiana due to the many sand dunes and moraines that dot the landscape. 

President of the Lake Station Historical Society Mike Poweska is one of the foremost experts on the area’s history, since becoming president in 2020, Poweska has been highlighting the often-overlooked history of one of the Region’s premier traveling hubs for over 150 years. 

“Lake Station has always been a hotbed of history in the area,” Poweska said. “There used to be a switch point on the railroad here where the car would be turned and either head north to Detroit or west to Chicago. The location of the city as a central point between two major midwestern cities made us a hub for the freight and rail industries.” 

The biggest what-if in Lake Station’s history was that of George Pullman. Pullman, known for the creation of Pullman sleeper train cars, was once in talks to set up his factory in Lake Station. 

“Pullman almost set up his factory here before taking the operation to the south side of Chicago,” Poweska said. “He saw the Lake Station area as a prime piece of real estate to build his rail cars. There was some sort of disagreement, which resulted in Pullman leaving to build in Chicago. That would’ve been huge to the growth of not only Lake Station, but this area in general, but that was unfortunately not the case.” 

In 1908, Lake Station’s name was changed to East Gary, in an attempt to lure executives and workers from U.S. Steel to the area to create a suburban type of environment for the city. The city would be named East Gary until the mid-1970s when they reverted back to their historical name to distance themselves from Gary’s decay and reputation of crime. Many families moved to the area to get away from the urban chaos, while still living within close proximity to Chicago. The population is estimated to be around 11,845 as of 2019.  

As the dependence of railroads for transportation of goods waned over time, Lake Station had to adapt to the changes in the Region’s economy. The area went from an industry-heavy area to a more residential focus. Lake Station’s growth has been dependent on the city’s embrace of its history and developing areas to bring more people in. 

Lake Station’s future is a bright one. Although history has often lumped Lake Station into the complicated history of Gary, the city has a bright future ahead with Mayor Bill Carroll’s leadership. The growth of residential housing in the area along with areas to hike and fish on the Calumet River has made Lake Station an up-and-coming area for future residents to settle down and raise a family. The continued growth of businesses will be a top priority during Mayor Carroll’s time in office. 

“The City of Lake Station will only ever do what is best for its community,” Carroll said. “The trend moving forward will be to continue to have our people and our businesses grow as one to create a more positive, more unified, and more impressive Lake Station.” 

To learn more about the City of Lake Station, visit