A Brief Introduction to San Pierre
San Pierre is a small, unincorporated community of 156 people located in Railroad Township, at the western-most edge of Starke County, in northwest Indiana.
The citizens of San Pierre are hard-working, family oriented, full of faith and small-town values. Many families have lived in San Pierre for generations. The town is proud of its unique history, its railroad origins and its agricultural heritage. They care about their environment, and are actively engaged in community issues. The youth in San Pierre are particularly involved in their community.
Established in 1854, San Pierre was originally called Culvertown, but later took the name of the post office Pierre, named after the nearby French-Canadian saloon owner. Before the downturn of the railroad industry, San Pierre had a train station at the intersection of the Monon and New York Central railways, boasted three grocery stores, a pickle factory, and a grain elevator. San Pierre was a stop on the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train, and a stop on the Presidential campaign of Harry S Truman.
Today, San Pierre is located at the intersection of US Highway 421 and Indiana State Road 10. A bank reportedly robbed by John Dillinger still stands at the corner of Eliza Street and Broadway in downtown. Two churches with congregations dating back to the 1800s are still active on Eliza Street and face the San Pierre Central Park and its WPA-built amphitheater, baseball field, basketball courts and picnic shelter. The downtown area is also home to a post office, a library, a volunteer fire department, a veterinarian's office, two restaurants, and several other businesses.
A distinguishing feature of downtown San Pierre is a four block long by 1/2 block wide 'commons' dating back to the town's railroad days, shown in the photo from 1880 below. Two cemeteries flank the eastern side of town. At the southwest edge of town, the Lions Club building serves as a community center, and the San Pierre Kindergarten occupies the northwest corner of town. Older school children travel to North Judson for their studies, attending the North Judson-San Pierre schools in neighboring Wayne Township.
Automobiles play a big role in the lives of the residents of San Pierre. According to the Starke County Comprehensive Land Use Plan of 2003, 5713 residents of Starke County commute everyday to jobs outside the county. The same study shows only 713 commuters come into Starke County for work. That means the daytime population of the county is 5,000 people less than its nighttime population.
Residents of San Pierre on average spend over an hour a day in their vehicles commuting to and from work. A related concern is the distance residents need to travel to purchase gas and groceries, services which are no longer available in San Pierre. Residents of San Pierre are fortunate to have several excellent recreational facilities nearby. Bass Lake and the Kankakee River are a short distance from town. Located just southwest of San Pierre lies the Jasper-Pulaski Fish &Wildlife Area, where some 28,000 sandhill cranes stop on the migratory route between Florida and Canada. Thousands of tourists flock to see this unique spectacle every year.
B - bank building
orange - residential area
yellow - proposed Monon trail
© 2008 The Institute for Small Town Studies