During the Gary SouthShore RailCats' inaugural season in 2002, the players spent an estimated 200 hours on buses?traveling approximately 12,000 miles without their own ballpark to call home. Indeed, the diamond at U.S. Steel Yard was still under construction, forcing the team to play its entire first season on the road. But while the trip could have been a rocky way for an organization to start out, it instead forecasted a wild ride ahead in which the RailCats never stopped moving. After just four years, the RailCats captured their first Northern League title, marking the first of five straight appearances in the championship series?a Northern League record.
Despite that first year away from home, the RailCats seem to have settled in well at U.S. Steel Yard. Within the park, views of the South Shore commuter train remind fans of the team's origins, and a 55-foot scoreboard towers over left-centerfield in much the same way early pitchers once towered over batters from atop a stack of milk crates.
South Gleason Golf Course tests players with an 18-hole layout that stretches across more than 6,300 yards of bent-grass greens. The par 71 course originally opened in 1928, shortly after experts figured out how to domesticate golf carts. Players have since flocked to the public links ever since to take on its various challenges, including several holes riddled by water hazards. Away from the course, visitors can work on their short game at an on-site putting green and chipping area. They can also collect pointers from the facility's teaching professional and celebrate low scores at its full-service bar.
Inside Amhurst Asylum, which is rumored to have housed a real psychiatric hospital in the 1920s, things have gone terribly awry. Those who venture into its depths find remnants of what Dr. Amhurst was experimenting with before the asylum was shut down. His experiments were far ranging and often involved gruesome transplants of limbs and organs, all in the hopes of saving his wife from a degenerative disease. Some of his patients still roam the halls, and attempt to reclaim their phantom limbs from unsuspecting visitors in the asylum's darkest corners. The grounds are so scary, in fact, that only the most seasoned adventurers may enter—children younger than 10 aren't allowed in, and children younger than 13 must be accompanied by an adult or Poltergeist-protection vest.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or cha-cha. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
The sounds of hockey sticks slapping pucks, ice skates carving figure eights, and trampoline springs squeaking fill Midwest Training and Ice Center. Adding to the soundscape, experienced staff members shout words of encouragement during adult and youth activities that unfold throughout the 34,000-square-foot gymnastics training facility and the Olympic-sized ice arena.
To help visitors grab an edge on their competition, personal trainers stage workouts in the fitness center, which includes strength and cardio equipment, group classes, and locker rooms equipped with a sauna?one of the best ways to relax post workout, and the second best way to cook a turkey. Though the facility focuses on competitive-training programs, its doors also open for public skates, open gyms, youth summer camps, and birthday parties.