From the Book:
Pokagon Indiana State Park
Greetings, today I will talk about Trine State Recreation Area, which is part of Pokagon State Park.
Trine State Recreation Area
The 186 acre recreation area is steeped in natural and cultural history. The recreation area has its roots in Wing Haven Resort.
Established in 1948 by Ben and Helen Swenson, Wing Haven featured 12 cabins, nature trails and a nature cabin. Helen named each of the cabins after birds and themed the decorations of the cabin to match the bird it was named for. The Swensons had formerly served at innkeepers at nearby Pokagon State Park, purchasing the Wing Haven property to operate as a resort.
Benjamin Franklin “Ben” Swenson (October 22, 1904 – July 21, 1954)
The son of George H. and Hildegard Benson, Benjamin was native to Chicago, Illinois. Before moving to Indiana, Swenson managed the Windermore East Hotel in Chicago. From there he and his wife, Helen Aldrich Swenson, migrated to Porter County, Indiana where Ben managed Dunes State Park. Helen painted a map of the Beverly Shores region in 1936. He became the manager of Potawatami Inn at Pokagon State Park in 1937. In 1951 Ben and Helen purchased a piece of nearby property and established the Wing Haven Resort. After Ben’s death in 1954, Helen managed the property until 1972. Ben is interred at Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Helen Mowry Aldrich Swenson (August 17, 1906 – April 8, 1983)
The daughter of Cassius Mowry and Blanche Edith Pierce Aldrich, Helen was native to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Helen attended the Art Institute of Chicago, after which she worked as a commercial artist in Chicago, Illinois. She mainly illustrated children’s books and designed greeting cards for the Art Institute of Chicago. She met, and married Ben Swenson in 1933. When Ben moved to Indiana to manage Indiana Dunes State Park she painted a map of the Beverly Shores area. She and Ben took over management of the Pokagon State Park Inn in 1936. While there she painted the 1937 Pokagon State Park map. When she and Ben purchased and established Wing Haven Resort in 1951 she named each of the 12 cabins after birds and decorated them, theming them to match each bird. She also sold her paintings at the resort. After Ben’s death she continued to manage the resort until she sold it in 1972. After her death she was interred in East Hickory Corners Cemetery, Hickory Corners, Barry County, Michigan.
Helen Swenson sold the property to a Fort Wayne church in 1972. The church named it Camp Calvary and operated it as a church camp, adding more facilities, as needed. Later on the name was changed to Oakhill Resort and Conference Center. The property was due to be sold at a sheriff’s sale in 2006, leading to the formation of a group 101 Lakes Land Trust which wanted to purchase the former resort for preservation.
This group approached local philanthropists Drs. Ralph and Sherri Trine for assistance, who purchased the property for 2.8 million dollars in 2006. A coalition of private citizens, DNR’s Indiana Heritage Trust, the Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, ACRES Land Trust, Steuben County Community Foundation, McClue Nature Reserve, Steuben County Lakes Council 101 Lakes Land Trust, Blue Heron Ministries provided financial help in transferring the property to the State of Indiana in 2007. Dr. Ralph and Sheri Trine continued their support after the purchase by helping fund the restoration of the 12 cabins, Swenson Shelter and provided furnishings for the Welcome Center. The seven year restoration effort included restoring the wetland and fen areas, construction of the boat rental and fishing piers and the Rolling Oaks Multipurpose Trail. Now named the Trine State Recreation Area, the property opened for hiking and fishing in November 2014. The cabins opened for overnight guests on May 15, 2014.
This story is exerpted from my book, Pokagon Indiana State Park. you can find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other online book retailers. You also purchase the book on my web site, http://www.mossyfeetbooks.com. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for listening
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