"Front Porch of the Dunes"
|Founded||5 February 1836 (authorized)|
|Named for||David Porter|
|• Total||521.8 sq mi (1,351 km2)|
|• Land||418.2 sq mi (1,083 km2)|
|• Water||103.6 sq mi (268 km2) 19.9%%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||407.4/sq mi (157.3/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
|Website||Official Porter County website|
|Indiana county number 64|
Porter County is a county in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2020, the population was 173,215, making it the 10th most populous county in Indiana. The county seat is Valparaiso. The county is part of Northwest Indiana, as well as the Chicago metropolitan area. Porter County is the site of much of the Indiana Dunes, an area of ecological significance. The Hour Glass Museum in Ogden Dunes documents the region's ecological significance.
The Porter County area was occupied by an Algonquian people dubbed Huber-Berrien. This subsistence culture arrived after the glaciers retreated around 15,000 years ago and the rise of glacial Lake Algonquian, 4–8,000 years ago. The native people of this area were next recorded during the Iroquois Wars (1641–1701) as being Potawatomi and Miami. The trading post system used by the French and then the English encouraged native people to live in central villages along major waterways. Therefore, there are no recorded villages within Porter County's current boundaries. It was not until 1830 when Chiqua's town and Tassinong appear on maps and in records. Chiqua's town is a mile east of Valparaiso on State Route 2, the old Sauk Trail. Tassinong is south of Valparaiso about 5 miles (8.0 km) on State Route 49 at Baum's Bridge Road, the main route across the Great Kankakee Marsh.
After the American Revolutionary War established US sovereignty over the territory of the upper midwest, the new federal government defined the Northwest Territory in 1787 which included the area of present-day Indiana. In 1800, Congress separated Ohio from the Northwest Territory, designating the rest of the land as the Indiana Territory. President Thomas Jefferson chose William Henry Harrison as the governor of the territory, and Vincennes was established as the capital. After the Michigan Territory was separated and the Illinois Territory was formed, Indiana was reduced to its current size and geography. By December 1816 the Indiana Territory was admitted to the Union as a state.
The Indiana State Legislature passed an omnibus county bill on 7 February 1835 that authorized the creation of thirteen counties in northeast Indiana, including Porter. In 1837 the county was organized. It was named for Capt. David Porter, naval officer during the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.
In 1962, Bethlehem Steel built a large integrated steel mill on the shores of Lake Michigan, which is now owned and operated by ArcelorMittal. The construction of the mill, as well as the neighboring Port of Indiana, generated enormous controversy between industrial interests and locals who wanted to conserve the natural shoreline and habitat. Although the activists lost and the steel mill and port were constructed, the US Congress created the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966 to protect the area's unique natural habitat.
Porter County lies on the northern edge of Indiana; its north border is formed by Lake Michigan and its south border is formed by the westward-flowing Kankakee River Its once-tree-covered low rolling hills have been cleared and devoted to agriculture; the only exceptions in Porter County are the drainages carved into the terrain, which are brush-filled. The East Arm Little Calumet River flows westward through the upper portion of Porter County. The highest point, at 870 feet (270 m), is a small hill on the county's east border, 2.75 miles (4.4 km) NW of Westville. The lowest point, at approximately 585 feet (178 m), is along the Lake Michigan shoreline (exact elevation varies due to variation in lake level). According to the 2010 census, the county has an area of 521.78 square miles (1,351.4 km2), of which 418.15 square miles (1,083.0 km2) (or 80.14%) is land and 103.63 square miles (268.4 km2) (or 19.9%) is water, most of it in Lake Michigan.
The municipalities in Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:
The 12 townships of Porter County and their populations as of the 2010 Census:
Public schools in Porter County are administered by several districts, most of which cover areas that roughly follow the county's township boundaries:
High Schools and Middle Schools
The county is served by two public library systems:
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in Valparaiso have ranged from a low of 15 °F (−9 °C) in January to a high of 83 °F (28 °C) in July, although a record low of −25 °F (−32 °C) was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in July 1934. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.82 inches (46 mm) in February to 4.66 inches (118 mm) in June.
See also: Government of Indiana
The county government is a constitutional body, and is granted specific powers by the Constitution of Indiana and the Indiana Code.
County Council: The legislative branch of the county government; controls spending and revenue collection in the county. Representatives are elected to four-year terms from county districts. They set salaries, the annual budget and special spending. The council has limited authority to impose local taxes, in the form of an income and property tax that is subject to state level approval, excise taxes and service taxes.
Board of Commissioners: The executive body of the county; commissioners are elected county-wide, to staggered four-year terms. One commissioner serves as president. The commissioners execute acts legislated by the council, collect revenue and manage the county government.
Court: The county maintains a small claims court that handles civil cases. The judge on the court is elected to a term of four years and must be a member of the Indiana Bar Association. The judge is assisted by a constable who is also elected to a four-year term. In some cases, court decisions can be appealed to the state level circuit court.
County Officials: The county has other elected offices, including sheriff, coroner, auditor, treasurer, recorder, surveyor, and circuit court clerk. These officials are elected to four-year terms. Members elected to county government positions are required to declare party affiliations and to be residents of the county.
Porter County is part of Indiana's 1st congressional district. In state government, Porter County is in Indiana Senate districts 4th, 5th and 6th; in Indiana House of Representatives districts 3rd, 4th, 10th, 19th and 20th.
For most of its history, Porter County was a Republican Party stronghold in presidential elections. It has become a swing county in recent years, voting for the national winner in every presidential election since 1980 except for 1992 and 2020.
|US Decennial Census|
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 164,343 people, 61,998 households, and 43,901 families in the county. The population density was 393.0 inhabitants per square mile (151.7/km2). There were 66,179 housing units at an average density of 158.3 per square mile (61.1/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 91.3% white, 3.0% black or African American, 1.2% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 8.5% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 29.1% were German, 18.5% were Irish, 10.1% were Polish, 9.7% were English, 5.8% were Italian, and 5.6% were American.
Of the 61,998 households, 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, 29.2% were non-families, and 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.07. The median age was 38.4 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $47,697 and the median income for a family was $73,065. Males had a median income of $59,542 versus $35,534 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,922. About 6.6% of families and 9.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.
|Places by population and race|
|Place||Population (2010)||White||Black or African
|Hispanic or Latino|
(of any race)
|Beverly Shores, town||613||96.6%||1.3%||0.3%||1.8%||2.8%|
|Burns Harbor, town||1,156||95.4%||1.8%||0.3%||2.5%||5.8%|
|Dune Acres, town||182||95.1%||1.1%||2.2%||1.6%||1.6%|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP [note 2]||7,033||93.4%||1.2%||1.0%||4.4%||8.5%|
|Ogden Dunes, town||1,110||96.1%||1.1%||1.3%||1.5%||3.2%|
|Salt Creek Commons, CDP||2,117||94.2%||1.0%||1.6%||3.2%||8.3%|
|Shorewood Forest, CDP||2,708||89.4%||3.8%||4.0%||2.8%||3.7%|
|South Haven, CDP||5,282||91.3%||3.0%||0.3%||5.4%||9.8%|
|Town of Pines, town||708||93.9%||2.3%||0.3%||3.5%||3.1%|
|Places by population and standard of living|
|Beverly Shores, town||613||$68,750||$39,906||$429,200|
|Burns Harbor, town||1,156||$26,337||$62,500||$149,700|
|Dune Acres, town||182||$141,256||$161,875||$677,600|
|Lakes of the Four Seasons, CDP [note 2]||7,033||$32,908||$84,242||$182,600|
|Ogden Dunes, town||1,110||$59,561||$106,406||$343,800|
|Salt Creek Commons, CDP||2,117||$18,778||$60,478||$114,800|
|Shorewood Forest, CDP||2,708||$49,743||$118,984||$327,400|
|South Haven, CDP||5,282||$19,355||$49,746||$110,800|
|Town of Pines, town||708||$20,255||$36,111||$96,600|
Main article: Cemeteries of Porter County, Indiana
Maplewood Cemetery, next to Graceland in Valparaiso, has burials from the 1700s. The Bailly Cemetery was started in 1827. Additional cemeteries were created as the population grew. Early cemeteries were often family owned or church related. As communities grew, community cemeteries developed. The newest cemetery in the county is Angel Crest Cemetery north of Valparaiso, near Indiana State Road 49.
Porter County has grown from a single park, Sunset Hill Farm County Park, to four, including: Calumet Trail, Dunn's Bridge County Park, and the newest, Brinkca-Cross Gardens.