“Northern Illinois Coal Mining 1850s-1974” — Tomorrow at Midewin

The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in southern Will County, about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, is the largest tallgrass prairie ecological restoration project east of the Mississippi River, and one of the great open space resources / biodiversity preserves in the greater Chicago region. Midewin sign

Each winter, the Visitor’s Center at Midewin hosts a lecture series on conservation, ecology, and the natural and cultural history of this 19,000-acre prairie, wetland, savanna, and woodland complex between Joliet and Wilmington. These presentations are free and open to the general public.

All lectures begin at 7pm at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Welcome Center (or Hotshot building if additional space is needed).  Doors open at 6:30pm with refreshments provided by the Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance.

Northern Illinois Coal Mining 1850s-1974

Tomorrow night, February 28, Richard Joyce, former Wilmington High School teacher, will present “Northern Illinois Coal Mining 1850s-1974.”  He will focus on the history of the coal industry in northern Illinois from the work force, to the mine types to the social life in the coal towns, labor struggles and major mine disasters. This essay from the IL Labor History Society’s website details some of this history.

Coal miners in northern IL, c. 1903 (Photo: Legends of America)

Coal miners in northern IL, c. 1903
(Photo: Legends of America)

Though gone for several decades, the coal industry had a huge impact on northern Illinois, affecting both the physical landscape and the development of many local towns.  Midewin sits near the northeastern edge of the great Illinois coal field, and some may argue the mining history of the area had something to do with the ultimate designation of this land as a National Tallgrass Prairie.

Save the following Thursday evenings for these March and April lectures, and click here for a full Event Calendar (pdf).

  • March 14, “Birds Live in Poetry,” presented by naturalist John Elliot
  • March 28, “The Rocks and Rolls of Midewin (Geology, of course!),” presented by Interpreter Keith Graham
  • April 11, “Loggerhead Shrike Research at Midewin:  A Grassland Bird in Crisis,” presented by Dr. Amy Chabot
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