Search This Blog

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lyons Woods Forest Preserve

In the last few years, the Lake County Forest Preserves has begun a program to place historical information at the entrances to preserves to provide visitors with a glimpse of the wonderful cultural history of the different sites.

It's been one of my projects to do in-depth research on these preserves, write the text, and select images to accompany the information. The completed history presents a fascinating tale of the site from pre-settlement through its many uses.

The most recent history panel installation was at Lyons Woods Forest Preserve on Sheridan Road in Waukegan. The preserve was named for the Isaac R. Lyon (right) family who came to Lake County from Massachusetts in 1843, and owned land within the preserve. The family established the I.R. Lyon General Store in Waukegan that continued for generations. (below)

The I.R. Lyon General Store is shown on the right in this stereoview after a particularly heavy snowfall the winter of 1871. (LCDM 94.14.61)

Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" airplanes were built in Waukegan during World War I. The biplane was one of North America's most famous war planes, and was used to train U.S. Army pilots. Each one made in Waukegan was test flown on a field on the north side of the preserve. "Jenny" on parade in Waukegan, Genesee Street, 1920.

The most significant landowner in this preserve's history was the Pavlik family. In 1940, George and Jenny Pavlik purchased 25 acres of open land and established an evergreen nursery. The mature evergreens in the preserve were planted by the Pavliks as 6” to 8” seedlings.

Wedding portrait of George and Jenny Pavlik (1923). Courtesy of Virginia Pavlik Bleck.

According to the family they "believed it was important to have a good work ethic, to respect the stewardship of land, and to create beauty on earth. They planted thousands of trees so that people could enjoy them forever."

In the 1950s, George supplied large pines from the nursery for the new Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The huge pines were balled and loaded onto semi-trucks for transport to the Academy. Photo of loading the trucks for the Air Force Academy. Courtesy of Steven Roy.

Be sure to visit Lyons Woods to learn more of the story of this site and to enjoy over 200 acres of open space.

Trailhead and history information panel at Lyons Woods (left).

Other preserves to visit with history panels are Van Patten Woods, Grant Woods, Greenbelt, Independence Grove, Wright Woods and Lakewood. And coming soon... Cuba Marsh! For directions please visit the Forest Preserves's website


MAB said...

I have spent over 60 years in the Lyons Woods area and remember two farmhouses that resided on the West side of North Ave one having a steel cable in front of it about middle of the park and another on the south end that at one time had a 4' diameter stone well. Does anybody know about who lived there and are there any recorded photos or information about them?

D_Dretske said...

Both houses were long gone by the time the Forest Preserve purchased the land. Drobnick (realtor) had them taken down. The southern house just north of Blanchard Road was the Archibald Darragh farm. You may want to contact Ann Darrow at the Waukegan History Museum to see if she has images. The northern house was the J. Cadmore farm. The Forest Preserve does not have any photos of the buildings.

Thanks for reading the blog!

Al Herring said...

Since the preserve is named after Isaac R. Lyon, seems like it should be named either Lyon Woods Forest Preserve or Lyon's Woods Forest Preserve. There is no "s" in his surname

Diana Dretske said...

The spelling of the family's name can be found as Lyon and Lyons, depending on the source (land records, business directories, etc.)

Not sure why the Forest Preserves chose to go with Lyons.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I remember a third home at Blanchard and Sheridan.

Lisa Chapman said...

My grandpa Murl Shanyfelt and my Uncle built my grandpa's house there on the corner of Blanchard Rd. and Sheridan Rd. in Waukegan back in 1935. He house was right next to the main tree on the left as you drive into Lyons Wood now. He owned the whole property the the orchard trees on and he owned all of the mobile homes on it. 115 trailers is what my Uncle Ralph actually told me tonight. My grandpa got married to my grandma and lived there until 1986. My grandma passed away in 1973 and my grandpa did in 1987. So all of my aunts and uncles were born and raised there and that was my favorite place to be. They had three cherry trees in the front yard. I loved their truck in the garage and their motorhome. I miss it/them soooo much it hurts.