River Festival 2017
Baum's Bridge Rd.
River Festival Facebook page
Festival sign designed by Katie O'Connor
here to view 2013 Aukiki River Festival video
the Aukiki River Festival 2012 video produced by Steve Dubovich
Aukiki River Festival pamphlet
here to view 2011 Aukiki River Festival video
here to view 2011 Aukiki River Festival slide show
here to view 2010 Aukiki River Festival video
here to view 2009 Aukiki River Festival video
here to view video of 2008 Aukiki River Festival
26 & 27, 2017
River Festival celebrates the Kankakee River
Step back in time Aug.
26 & 27, 2017
River Festival sign at 600 S and SR 49
2011 "Festival of the Year" by Indiana Dunes Tourism
River Festival site map
River Festival Facebook page
Susan and Gary Brown
information about Susan and Gary Brown
Susan and Gary
View Susan and
Susan and Gary Brown video at the 2009 Aukiki River
information about Trios Canards
to Trois Canards
Si Mon Moine
Trois Canards video at the 2009 Aukiki River
Trois Canards and Susan & Gary Brown performing The Paddle
20th Indiana Co.
Indiana Volunteer Infantry
Indiana video snippet
seen in Public Enemies. Jim Lambert and his 1934 Ford
Jim Lambert's 1934 Ford snippet video
Ford at 2010 Aukiki River Festival snippet video
County Sheriff David Lain will display the John Dillinger Thompson
David Lain and Dillinger "Tommy" gun at 2010 Aukiki River
Singer Trilly Cole
Cole's website link
star Trilly Cole at 2010 Aukiki River Festival video snippet
BlacksmithsWright snippet video
demonstration at 2010 Aukiki River Festival snippet video
Keith Ryder- Early trap & skeet
Keith Ryder and his antique shotgun display snippet video.
Company of Rogers' Rangers and Young's Rangers
Sons of Union
Veterans of the Civil War recruitment encampment
a la Cache Brigade
a la Cache Brigade website
The Kankakee Alliance French
Cindy Deardorff &
- Native-American encampment
encampment video snippet
encampment at 2010 Aukiki River Festival video snippet
Fur Trapper encampment
Black powder muzzle loading snippet video
tomahawk demonstration snippet video
tomahawk throw demonstration from 2010 Aukiki River Festival
reenactor encampment snippet video
starting demonstration at 2010 Aukiki River Festival
River Festival participant page
B & J Specialties
history, promoting restoration
Aukiki River Festival
brings Kankakee River history to life
August 8, 2013
BAUMíS BRIDGE ó On Aug. 24 and 25, a
festival will celebrate the history of the once great Grand Kankakee
Marsh and bring awareness of restoring the river and wildlife that
once thrived in abundance along the river. The festival, the Aukiki
River Festival, is in its sixth year with the celebration of the
sesquicentennial of Baumís Bridge.
Baumís Bridge connects Jasper and Porter
Counties and is a historical passage across the once wide river. The
Kankakee Valley Historical Society hosts this annual event on the
Porter County side at Collierís Lodge, the last of the hunting
lodges that once dotted the landscape along the river. The festival
will feature live historical demonstrations from various eras. The
site was the location of archeological digs for several years with
artifacts as old as 10,000 years found at the lodge.
At Jasper County Road 125 West, Baumís
Bridge has been known by different names, Indian Crossing,
Potawatomi Ford, Sherwood Ferry, Eatonís Ferry and Sawyerís
Bridge. Bought by Enos Baum in 1860, the area consisted of a mill
and a ferry, which took travelers across until Baum built a stable
bridge in 1863. It was a toll bridge until the close of the Civil
War, when Jasper and Porter Counties took over the maintenance of
the bridge. The small community that existed at that time called the
area Baumís Bridge and the name has stuck over the 150 years.
The Collier Lodge is the last remaining
building at Baumís Bridge and was purchased in 2000 by John P.
Hodson and his wife. The couple established the KVHS in hopes of
raising the funds to restore the lodge to its former glory. The
Aukiki Festival is a way to bring awareness of the rich history of
the area and the desire to restore the historical building.
The area, once settlers began arriving,
became a popular place to hunt and fish. Hunting clubs were built,
bringing presidents and royalty to the Kankakee River. Soon,
speculators were looking at the river as a hindrance to the growth
of the region after Indiana attained statehood in 1816. Some thought
the marsh should be drained and the land used for farming.
From 1906 to 1918, the federal government
"straightened" the Kankakee River in Indiana, reducing the
once grand river from a "meandering 270 mile river to a 90 mile
straight ditch," Hodson wrote in his bi-weekly column for a
Lake County newspaper titled, "River Bits."
Where once the skies were blackened by the
flocks of migrating birds and the river abundant with wildlife, the
impact of the straightening of the river was almost immediate. The
number of wildlife was drastically reduced. Waterfowl changed their
migratory flights to areas in Illinois.
Through the KVHS and other organizations,
promoting the restoration of the wetlands is top priority as well as
keeping the history of the area alive.
The Hodsons werenít looking to history
when they began buying land in the area. Their third to last parcel
of the 150 acres they purchased had a building on it built in 1898.
A farmer from the area explained the history of the building to the
couple, who were fascinated by the story. They soon learned there
was more history to be heard and founded the historical society.
For 10 years, the site at Baumís Bridge
was the site of an archeological dig by students at Notre Dame. A
new type of point was found buried beneath the sand and dirt near
Collierís Inn, which was named after Hodson, called Hodsonís
Corner Notch. Native Americans built tools from rock, and along with
the usual collection of arrowheads were found hammer heads and other
tools built by the ancient river dwellers.
Baumís Bridge and the hunters clubs
faded out of existence in the 1930s, ending the heyday of tourists
and hunters to the area. Hodson said the river really isnít a
river any more. It is the Marble Powers ditch, named after a Jasper
County commissioner (Marbles) and an engineer (Powers).
At the Aukiki River Festival, Hodson said,
"We celebrate the history of the river and those with influence
on it." This includes French trappers, Native Americans,
hunters and soldiers from the French/Indian War and the Civil War.
There are a number of encampments set up at the festival. There will
be black powder demonstrations, tomahawk and ax throwing
demonstrations, music and food from times past.
Hodson said the demonstrators interact
with visitors and celebrate hundreds of years of history up to the
1930s, when the historical era finally ended. New this year is a
French voyager story teller. There will be vendors as well. Each
year, more vendors are added and new historical acts.
society were able to acquire a log cabin built in 1864 that once sat
close to Lake Michigan in what is now the Indiana Dunes State Park.
The cabin was discovered inside a more modern structure and rather
than destroying it, was moved to Portage after having been moved
twice before that. The Portage Historical Society didnít have the
funds to restore the cabin and the KVHS took it off their hands.
Volunteers carefully disassembled the
building, which was only 60 percent intact. The historical society
plans to rebuild the cabin. Salvageable timbers from a similar cabin
that burned in the Chesterton area were recovered for this project.
Hodson said a number of fallen oak trees on his properties will
provide timber as well. He found a sawmill that will make smaller
boards for the cabin but is still looking for a way to cut the
larger logs that are 30 inches in diameter and 26 feet long.
Hodson said the Portage Historical Society
had estimated the cost of restoring the cabin at $495,000 but the
Kankakee Valley Historical Society plans to get it done for less
than $500 through donations and volunteer labor. Already, some Boy
Scouts have helped out and the Portage ROTC. The Lake County Power
and Steam Club has cut up some of the timber.
In the future, the KVHS has plans to move
Lake County Bridge #2, which is being rebuilt at Jasper County Road
1200 West. They have to move the bridge to the Baumís Bridge area.
It is a one lane wooden bridge joining Lake, Newton and Jasper
counties by the Grand Kankakee Marsh County Park. The organization
needs the money to move and install the bridge.
According to an article on the Historical
Societyís website, they are looking at a transportation
enhancement grant. Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke suggested
they could float the bridge down the river to the Baumís Bridge
Festival like a step back in time
AUGUSTYN TIMES CORRESPONDENT
KOUTS | Get ready to step back in time for
the annual Aukiki River Festival in Kouts on Aug. 24 and 25 as
re-enactors bring the history of the Kankakee River region back to
John Hodson, executive director of the
Kankakee Valley Historical Society, which hosts the event, said that
the event has grown in past years and is always popular with
"People are just attracted to
historical events and we donít just focus on one era. We have a
cast of characters that are part of this regionís history, from
Native Americans through the 1930s and they really interact with the
people," Hodson said.
Located on the grounds at 1097 Baumís
Bridge Road, the festival offers encampments from the French-Indian
War, Native Americans, French voyageurs, fur trappers and traders,
and the Civil War; demonstrations by blacksmiths, trap and skeet
shooters, Civil War quilters, and crafters; displays of historic
autos and agricultural equipment, blankets, and general merchandise;
and musical entertainment and period-themed food like bison burgers
and sassafras tea.
Hodson says that because this year is the
sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) of Baumís Bridge, more
attractions have been added to the Aukiki River Festival.
"We have added more vendors and more
participants and the festival is growing in leaps and
bounds," Hodson said. "We are expanding
our grounds and new this year we have a French storyteller. We will
also have fashion demonstrations so our participants talk about
their costumes. We are also selling the Everglades of the North DVDs,
an hour-long documentary on the history of the Kankakee River."
He says that most everyone from last year
is returning, including the favorites.
"The black powder shoot, the muzzle
loaders, are a big favorite, as is the tomahawk and knife throw. The
20th Indiana Civil War Regiment will be back and we are increasing
our number of participants and encampments," Hodson
said. "Weíre up to about 40 or 50 encampments now.
Porter County Sheriff David Lain is supposed to bring out Dillingerís
Tommy gun again as well."
The sixth annual Aukiki River Festival is
free to attend and Hodson says the mission of the event is to get
the word out about the history of the region.
"The whole point is the awareness of
the history of the Kankakee River and the region so people can get
more involved with conservation and historical groups, as well as
the recreational activities of the river. Itís not just the border
between Porter and Jasper counties. We want to bring people down to
the south end of the county. Itís a great area," he said.