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Illinois Outdoors

Rock Cut State Park turns 50

October 25, 2007 at 05:00 AM

Here’s a press release from the Department of Natural Resources about Rock Cut State Park turning 50 years old.

Rock Cut State Park reaches milestone

LOVES PARK, IL—For the past 50 years, Rock Cut State Park has been a fixture of nature and beauty in northern Illinois and Winnebago County. October marks the fifth decade that Rock Cut has been a virtual welcome mat to wildlife and park visitors from all across the state and the nation.

“It’s an area of rolling plains, interesting history and recreational variety,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood. “Rock Cut State Park is one of many examples of what the state of Illinois has to offer people looking to enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer.”

Wildlife watchers to the area won’t be disappointed. Birders report good viewing, with waterfowl being abundant. Deer, fox, muskrat, woodchuck and beaver inhabit Rock Cut State Park as do opossum, raccoon and both gray and fox squirrel. More than 100 types of wildflowers offer a showy display each spring and summer, while the hardwood trees dazzle visitors with their leaves of red and gold every fall.

The region in and around Rock Cut is steeped in Native American history.  By the middle of the 17th century, Miami-speaking tribes entered the region of Rock Cut State Park after the Iroquois drove them from territory on the southern end of Lake Michigan. From about 1655 until 1735, the Rock River was within the range of the Mascouten, who were also pushed westward by the Iroquois. The Winnebago ranged southward from Wisconsin to the Rock River from the 1740s until 1837, while the river’s upper portion was on the periphery of the Fox and Sauk territory from about 1765 to 1833. By 1800, the Potawatomi, Ottawa and Chippewa nations had extended their range into the area, but they ceded their lands to the United States 32 years later following the Black Hawk War. Settlement of Winnebago County began after the Black Hawk War.

The region that is now Rock Cut State Park was settled partly by Scots around Argyle—named for their Scottish home of Argyllshire—and partly by Canadians, New Yorkers and New Englanders around the town of Harlem—named for New York City’s Harlem. The Illinois version of Harlem was moved in 1859 when the Kenosha-Rockford Rail Line was built. The dammed waters of Pierce Lake now cover much of the railroad bed within the park, although portions of the railroad grade are visible along Willow Creek below the spillway. But blasting operations in a rock outcrop that railroad crews conducted during the 1859 construction left lasting impressions here—they cut through rock to provide a suitable roadbed and gave Rock Cut its name.

The trail system at Rock Cut offers opportunities for hiking (40 miles), mountain biking (23 miles), and horseback riding (14 miles) and has been completely remarked. Trail users will find updated trail head/information signs at picnic areas and trail access points for trail information and regulations. Only certain trails are designated for mountain biking and equestrian use and are identified by colored trail markers. Blue trails are for mountain biking and hiking, yellow trails are for equestrian and hiking, and red trails are restricted to hiking only.

For those who want to include an overnight stay in their visit to Rock Cut, the park offers 28 Class A-Premium sites for reservation, 180 Class A-Premium sites and 60 Class B-Premium sites on a first-come first-serve basis. There is also a primitive cabin available for reservation. It has electricity, but does not have water or plumbing facilities.

One of the park’s most popular activities is fishing in Pierce Lake—named for state Rep. William Pierce of Rockford—who served in the legislature from 1951-1966 and who proposed the first land acquisition for the park in 1955. The lake is stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and channel catfish, as well as bullhead, northern pike, muskellunge and walleye.

The site’s 50-acre Olson Lake is especially for swimmers. Rounding out the park’s recreational options are horseback trails and cross-country skiing. Whatever the season, you can be sure there’s quite a bit of activity going on at Rock Cut State Park.

For more information, contact Rock Cut State Park, 7318 Harlem Road, Loves Park, IL, 61111, phone 815/885-3311.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

As Rock Cut turns fifty. I would like to ask if there is any documentation as to the people who won the first Ice Sculpting competion for a group at the first winter carnival at the park?? I think the year would be 1974.The Sculpting would be called Snipe..  thank you for your time Sam

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/31 at 04:16 PM

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