History & Culture

Human beings and human culture have been part of the landscape which is now the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie for a long time.

The cultural history of the Midewin site prior to its designation as a national tallgrass prairie in 1996 can be divided into three broad periods of time. Each of these periods have left their mark on the Midewin landscape and will affect aspects of Midewin's restoration.


Keeping The Prairie Past Alive with First-hand Stories and Heirloom Recipes

A family gathers around their patriarchs, who each hold Midewin 25th Anniversary poster copies

Alvin (“Al”) and Robert (“Bob”) Schumacher recently brought together four generations of their extended families to the Iron Bridge Trailhead to share their stories of growing up there on the Schumacher family farm – "Fairview Farm" – in the 1930s.

Silver Anniversary: 2006 Quilt Project

Silver Anniversary: 2006 Quilt Project

In 2006, volunteers created “story board” quilts featuring Midewin NTP past, present and future.


Before Euro-American Settlement

Before Euro-American: Huber projectile point made from chert

Several Native American cultures had lived or were living in the tallgrass prairie region a long time before Euro-American settlers arrived.

After Euro-American Settlement

After Euro-American: Burt Redden with Fertilizer Spreader

Early in the 19th century, European and American settlers began moving into southern Illinois and making their way north into the Great Lakes region.


The Joliet Army Ammunition Plant

Joliet Arsenal: Woman working

In increments, land where the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant was active during WWII is being transferred from the U.S. Army to the USDA Forest Service.

Bunker Graffiti Research at Midewin

Bunker Glyph: Name and Caricature

The "bunkerglyphs" researched and documented by volunteers provide a window 60 years into the past on the former Joliet Arsenal.