Veteran Acres Park
- Before becoming Veteran Acres Park, this area was farmed by the Walkup family after whom the street is named. The Walkups first settled here around 1835, building a cabin where the playground is now located. They grazed cattle in the bowl where there is now a pond, farmed the upland areas of the parking lot and tennis courts, and harvested timber in the woods.
- Several homes were located on this property until the family constructed larger homes on the west side of Walkup Ave. The historic home still standing today was built by local mason Andrew Jackson Simons in 1856. It is owned and inhabited by a descendent of the early settlers.
- The bowl area of the park and the upper east bluff where the Nature Center sits was eventually owned by Simon Gates. A school house was built on the site of the Nature Center and was later moved to the southeast corner of Walkup Avenue and Route 176 where today it is a residence. The pond was known for many years as School House Pond.
- The farm was sold in 1921 to a developer who built a small golf course here.
- The 9 hole course named Oakwoods Lodge opened in 1923 and was very popular for several years. Hole #6 was here in the vicinity of the playground with a beautiful view of the pond.
- The golf course closed during the Great Depression and the land was sold in 1939 to the young Crystal Lake Park District. The park was commonly referred to as Walkup Woods until it was renamed after World War II to honor the veterans who served our country.
- Today, Veteran Acres Park is 156 acres in size and connects to Sterne's Woods and Fen in the northeast corner of the park. There are miles of hiking trails throughout the woods and Wingate Prairie which is an Illinois Nature Preserve.
More than 11,000 years ago, the mile thick glacier covering this park began to recede northward back toward Canada. As it retreated, the mighty force of the glacier's movement sculpted the earth into the landforms we see today. Left behind was a gravelly mix of soil and rock with veins of silt and loam running throughout. These soils provided the perfect conditions for establishment of the woodlands, wetlands and prairies in Veteran Acres Park.
The hills around Veteran Acres are all part of the Cary Moraine which spans from Cary to Hebron. The ridges and abrupt changes in topography have been softened over thousands of years but provide sharp contrast to the flat topography found throughout northern Illinois. Wingate Prairie, located on the east side of the park is a fine example of moraine topography.
The lowest area of the park, with a pond at the bottom is a kettle that was formed by the glacier's scooping action. Water or wet areas are often found at the bottom of kettles, and the soil is usually acidic. The Veteran Acres Pond is naturally fed by springs and seeps from the surrounding hills. Since storm water run-off was introduced into the pond in the 1970's the water level fluctuates with the rainfall.
[Photo captions, from left to right, read]
Nunda School House
School House Pond
The First Settlers - Walkup Family Photo
Michael Walkup, Walkup Heritage Farm & Gardens
Bob Frenz, One Room Schoolhouses of McHenry County
McHenry County Historical Society
Crystal Lake Historical Society