WHAT: Robinson Family Burial Ground and Robinson Preserve
WHERE: On the south side just west of N. East River Rd. and W. Lawrence Ave. in Norridge, IL
WHEN: Every day until sundown
OUR RATING: Do It!
Well, after last week’s interruption due to illness, Storefront City is back in business. For our first post this week, we explore something a little bizarre, but found that it makes for a great outing on the warm days that are thankfully becoming more common (got up to 71 degrees on Sunday!)
Although October has long come and gone, we stumbled across a strangely haunting location in the little village of Norridge, about 20 minutes north-west of the city. Steeped in local lore, the site is complete with trails, deer and ghost legends (look out for the supposed scent of lilacs and phantom drums), and families will have plenty to talk about as they traverse the forgotten paths that Native Americans once trod.
Alicia: Alexander Robinson (d. 1872) (Robinson was the English surname of Chee-chee-pin-quay, Chief of the Pottawatomie, Chippewa and Ottawa Nation of Indians) was initially given this piece of land in 1829 in return for his assistance to the Americans as an intermediary with the Indians during the time of the Fort Dearborn massacre.
But what exactly could these woods be haunted by? The last of the Robinson’s lived on this land until May 1955, when their farm burned down. No lives were lost, but generations of the Robinson family lived and died on this land, including Alexander Robinson himself. And just five months after the Robinson farm fire the bodies of three young boys were found in a ditch near the parking lot in the woods. 1955 was an unfortunate year for this piece of land, and for the families associated with it, but decades later the woods are welcoming and beautiful, albeit with a muddy and strange history.
We recommend travelling out to the boulder first, on the north side of the preserve, which marks the burial place of Chief Chee-chee-pin-quay. There’s a bench on either side if you want to rest for a bit before starting on your big hike. Look out for deer while doing this – we spotted nine small ones that seem very tame and docile, so if you’re still for long enough, they might come and have a look at you.
Adam: Norridge, Illinois can be described as a small village (in municipal parlance) of around 14,000 people that has jealously guarded its independence from the encroaching city of Chicago. This ability to resist encroachment has no doubt been helped by the large forest preserves abutting this enclave, that obviously prevent any further development and protect the pristine nature of the environment.
The Robinson Forest Preserve is divided into two sections, being north and south, with the Robinson Burial Ground and surrounding areas located in the north tract, while the south tract contains plentiful pasture, along with numerous nature trails that zigzag across the Des Plaines River.
In all honesty, Chicago itself provides little of the mystery and wilderness of this place, which is both welcome and refreshing. Too often, we seem to be living our urban lives in the grid system of roads, trains and towering buildings, forgetting the simple pleasure of walking through the ancient woods or appreciating the history behind a place.
On the south side, there is a beautiful field that is perfect for picnics and a long, winding trail with plenty of birds and wildlife available for watching. It’s fantastic to find such an untouched place so close to the city (you can take the CTA from Downtown) and with its rich history and diverse wildlife, its worth the trek.
Final Thoughts: Wild, picturesque and haunting, Robinson Preserve provides entertainment for everyone who likes the outdoors and all its mysteries. Great for picnics, treks and a spot of ghosthunting, you couldn’t find a more unique spot for a day out.