Lincoln Park Nursery Ruins in Lemont, Illinois

The stone archway.

Chicago’s Lincoln Park is known as the largest park in the city. However, it’s much less common knowledge that many of the trees and plants originally came from a forest preserve more than 20 miles away. 

Lincoln Park has expanded from its much smaller origins into the massive park that exists today. It was created by filling in miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. To accomplish this, topsoil and fill were needed, as well as plants and trees. 

All were in short supply in the big city, but there was plenty in an area of Lemont now known as Waterfall Glen. The Lincoln Park Commission purchased 100 acres to establish a nursery and a place to gather fill for the lake.  

Dirt, rock, trees, and plants were loaded onto barges in the nearby Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. They were then sent upstream to the city for the park’s construction. 

Now all that remains of the former nursery are pieces of the stone building that sat at the site. The most prominent feature is a large stone doorway bearing the inscription “LPS 1921.”