A Unique Park with a Unique History
Veteran Acres Park
1835 - 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.
1856 - 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.
1869 - 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.
1921 - The farm was sold in 1921 to a developer who built a small golf course here.
1939 - 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.
PRESENT - 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
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
Erected 2011 by Crystal Lake Park District.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Education • Parks & Recreational Areas • Settlements & Settlers. A significant historical year for this entry is 1835.
Location. 42° 15.096′ N, 88° 19.218′ W. Marker is in Crystal Lake, Illinois
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A Showcase of Diversity (within shouting distance of this marker); Downtown Crystal Lake (approx. 0.6 miles away); Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.6 miles away); El Tovar Theatre (approx. 0.7 miles away); World War II Memorial (approx. 5.1 miles away); Cary Cemetery - 1839 (approx. 5.1 miles away); Algonquin Village Hall and Public Square (approx. 6 miles away); Goodrich Homestead (approx. 7.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Crystal Lake.
Also see . . . Veteran Acres Park, Crystal Lake IL. Crystal Lake Park District entry. (Submitted on May 11, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on September 26, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 11, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 202 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 11, 2016, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.