Discovering Amelia Earhart

Today is Amelia Earhart’s birthday.   The title of the post is discovering Amelia Earhart and a connection to Indiana and the Dunes Park.

I’m going to play the role of a history detective in this post.

I took a photograph of this poster that looks like Amelia Earhart by the Indiana Dunes. It was an advertising poster printed, published by the South Shore Line Railroad to promote travel to the Dunes. Earhart was a world famous aviatrix that flew around the globe and mysteriously disappeared in the South Pacific during the early part of World War II.

Was she ever at the Indiana Dunes? Is this a depiction of Amelia Earhart? Could there be a connection to Earhart and Indiana and the railroad line.

Amelia at the Dunes

Amelia at the Dunes

The clothes–blouse, jodphurs and boots–of the woman in the poster and of Amelia in the picture below match.

Amelia by a plane

Amelia by a plane

Amelia Earhart was born in Atchison, Kansas. Her father, Edwin Earhart, worked as a claims officer for the Rock Island Railroad in Kansas and then was transferred to Des Moines, Iowa. Later on Edwin worked for the Great Northern Railway in Minnesota.

There is a connection in Amelia’s past with railroads because of her father.

1908, Amelia saw her first plane at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. From what I’ve read both Edwin and Amelia were interested in flying and airplanes. 1921, while Amelia was in Long Beach, California, she began taking flying lessons from Neta Snook.

Neta Snook and her student, Amelia Earhart, photo Wikipedia

Neta Snook and her student, Amelia Earhart, photo Wikipedia

In 1928, her career in aviation flew off with her first successful transatlantic flight between the U.S. and U.K.  As her celebrity grew, Earhart became a popular figure in advertising and endorsements that provided the much needed capital for these flights.

Was the Indiana sandy dunes location ever used by early pilots?

As early as 1886 the dunes was used for test flights. In 1886, Octave Chanute, a French immigrant, used Dune Park near Miller Beach as a testing ground for flying gliders.

You can view images of the Dunes and areas around where the test flights occurred in my earlier post

By the way, Wilbur Wright one of the two Wright brothers, was born near Millville, Indiana. He eventually moved on to Kitty Hawk and test flights over there. In 1910, Blanche Stuart Scott appeared as a wing walker, walking on an airplane in flight, for the first time in Fort Wayne.   There is a longstanding link between Indiana and aviation.

Is there a connection between Amelia and Indiana or aviation in Indiana? It brings us back to the question of whether that could be an idolized image of her in the poster.

Here is what we know so far.  Pioneers in early aviation lived in Indiana and the sandy shores by Lake Michigan from the 1880s on.

There is a definite link between Earhart, aviation and Indiana. In 1935, Earhart joined the faculty of Purdue University as a consultant and visiting faculty member of its Aviation Department to teach women how to fly. In 1937, the university paid for the purchase of Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane that was used for her fateful last flight. It was to be the first flight by a woman around the world.

On July 2, 1937, Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan vanished somewhere in the South Pacific.

I think that is meant to be a depiction of Amelia Earhart in the poster above honoring her connection to aviation and Indiana.

Researchers believe they are getting close to discovering what happened to Earhart and Noonan. If you want to learn more about Earhart, you can visit the George Palmer Putnam Collection on Earhart’s papers at Purdue University. It includes 3,500 scanned photographs, maps, documents and papers.

Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance may never be solved. I hope it is. She was a great aviator who taught, encouraged women to soar.

If someone has the South Shore Line documentation to verify it that she served as inspiration for the poster, please let me know.  I think she was the inspiration for that poster.

Happy Birthday Amelia!


4 responses to “Discovering Amelia Earhart

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