The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is an industrial area, founded in 1965 and located on the Lake Michigan shore of Indiana at the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Indiana 249. The primary work done in the area is the manufacturing of steel, and the port area is dominated by steel mills. The port is divided between the municipalities of Burns Harbor and Portage. Construction of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor was extremely controversial, with conservationists fighting to preserve a segment of the Indiana Dunes that occupied the site of the future port.
The port and its steel mills were constructed on top of what was once the Central Dunes region of the Indiana Dunes and site of some of the hanggliding experiments carried out by a crew led by Pioneer aviator Octave Chanute. Authorization of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which borders the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on three sides, was part of a political compromise that also involved the construction of the port.
Port recreational use:
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor also contains the Burns Waterway Small Boat Harbor, a 5,540-foot (1,690 m)-long canal, dredged to a depth of 6 feet (1.8 m), extending inland from Lake Michigan to south of U.S. Highway 12. It is located west of Burns Waterway Harbor, This boat harbor provides access to the inland Portage Marina and Marina Shores, a private, 300-boat marina/condominium complex under development as of 2011. Other than the small boat harbor, much of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is a "restricted area" as of 2012, and the public is not admitted within most of the port area.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, as of 2009, is dominated by three extensive industrial plants:
- Gary Works-Midwest Plant, a unit of the U.S. Steel Corporation.
- The Burns Harbor works of ArcelorMittal, originally constructed by the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation.
- The Northern Indiana Public Service Bailly coal-fired power plant owned by NiSource