PORTER, Ind. — A bill passed quietly in the U.S. House of Representatives last week made the Indiana Dunes the 61st national park in the United States, and the next destination on photographer QT Luong's decades-long quest to capture each park on film.
"We didn't know until the last minutes; it was buried on page 500-something of that bill that distinguished us as the 61st National Park," Park Ranger Jean-Pierre Anderson said of the Indiana Dunes' new status.
While park rangers quietly celebrated their new status, a famous French photographer was unpacking just down the road. For the past 26 years, QT Luong has worked to capture every national park in the U.S. on film, and is the only man to ever do so.
Legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams was also obsessed with completing the task. With only the Florida Everglades left to go, Adams died before he could complete it. Luong decided to finish the job, and to take his photos with a large format camera like one used by Adams.
"I decided I would follow his footsteps by using the same camera as he did," Luong said. "I've been working on this project for a quarter of a century."
It took 26 years, but Luong visited every park. A book of his photos titled, "Treasured Lands" was at the printers. Then he got word that one more park had been added to the National Registry.
"I literally had to call the printer to stop the press," he said with a laugh.
He grabbed an overnight flight, and the next day he was on the Indiana Dunes Lakefront snapping away.
"This is my first time here, and what really struck me was these shelves ice on the lake. Just amazing," Luong said.