Before written history, hunters followed the receding glacier across northern Illinois. They found the southern end of Lake Michigan swampy and teeming with game. Flint chips and an occasional arrow point can be found almost anywhere in this region. In 1804, there were Indian villages at the intersection of Archer Ave. and 107th St. and at about where the town of Palos Park is now located. Archer Ave. was a trail often used by Indians and early settlers.
Connect with the historic past of the Palos Hills at The Little Red Schoolhouse. In 1886 the present building, originally located on the Black Oak Trail at old 99th Street, replaced a log cabin school. Now hikers enjoy country lanes once used by its student. In 1932 the school house was moved to Camp Kiwanis by a local resident, using only one mule and log rollers. Classes continued there until 1948. In 1952 it was moved to its present site, and in 1955 reopened as a unique, new kind of school. In place of the three R’s, fascinating stories are told to children and grown-ups who visit here, stories about forest preserve plants and animals and the earth of which they live.
Fifty years ago Longjohn Slough was a wet prairie where farmers cut wild hay. Some farmers hauled hay to feed Chicago’s horses a round trip of about 10 hours! Old timers remember hunting rabbits in a hollow that is now Maple Lake, and one resident made a living just hunting and trapping. The land on which the schoolhouse now stands was a fruit orchard planted in 1906. Visitors in the spring still enjoy its pear, apple and plum blossoms.
In 2010 a new visitor center with additional live animals and exhibits, children’s activity room, and more joined the old school.
Read more about the history of the Little Red Schoolhouse…
9800 Willow Springs Rd., Willow Springs, IL 60480West side of Willow Springs Rd. (104th Ave.), 1/2 mile south of 95th St., Willow Springs.
Hours of operation:
March 1 through the last Saturday in October
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
Last Sunday in October through February 28
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily
Exhibit Buildings open at 9 a.m. daily (CLOSED FRIDAYS), and may close up to 1/2 hour before grounds close.
CLOSED on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day
Summer and Fall 2013: The old schoolhouse building is temporarily closed for renovation. The main interpretive center and trails remain open, and all programs are continuing as scheduled.