Spring Lake Nature Park

Streator, Illinois


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Our Story

History of Spring Lake Nature Park

Spring Lake circa 1900

Cutting Ice, Spring Lake circa 1920

Original Ice Chutes, Spring Lake circa 1920

Original Ice Chutes, Spring Lake circa 1920

Original Ice House, Spring Lake circa 1920


Spring Lake Park is named for a large spring-fed lake that once provided swimming, boating, ice skating, and other recreation for area residents. In the late 1800’s, a dam was constructed to maintain the level of the lake to provide water for ice production. Large blocks of ice were used for individual and commercial “ice boxes” before electric refrigerators were invented. Once ice was no longer needed, the dam was destroyed, leaving the meandering streams and falls area that we see today.

Longtime Streator resident Mabel O’Hara recalls the early days of the park:


I go back to when there really was a lake there and swam there many times.

I also remember the cutting of the ice in the winter and the big ice house where it was stored with a lot of straw around the chunks to slow the thawing.

Also, the winter when the lake was to be emptied, the dam was dynamited and there were fish all over the place in shallow water. I happened to have hiked there that day with others and we all went home with our pockets full of fish!! My Minnesota grandparents were visiting at the time and my grandfather never got over telling of my coming into the kitchen excitedly telling of what was going on and pulling out fish after fish as I spoke.

The creek was still very nice when my children were little and we paddled and swam there many times.


Spring Lake, circa 1900

 

In 1963, through the efforts of Senator Fred Hart, the State of Illinois gave the land to the City of Streator to be used as a natural recreation area.


Spring Lake Project


In the spring of 2007, a group of volunteers formed the Spring Lake Project to help the city maintain the park for use by the public. It uses volunteer professional consultants in the areas of education, historical research, parks management, natural lands restoration, engineering, and construction to aid in park development.Volunteers have cleared brush, removed trash, constructed a parking lot, installed posts around the parking lot, repaired damaged trails, and built three bridges.

Volunteers constructing bridge

Volunteers Constructing Pedestrian Bridge, Summer 2007


To keep this beautiful natural land available to the public as a safe recreation area, the Spring Lake Project volunteers participate in a host program acting as park interpreters and assuring that city ordinances are observed.


Spring Lake Restoration Wins Governor's Home Town Award


Spring Lake Project has been awarded the Governor's Home Town Award in recognition of the park's restoration and the efforts of over 250 volunteers who have donated money, materials, equipment, and labor. City officials, tourism staff, and Spring Lake Project volunteers accepted the award at a banquet in Springfield. The city was given a commemorative plaque and a road sign to recognize the award.

Governor's Home Town Award