GITy Up Extra Fun Thing #4: Go Natural

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County's Little Red School House Nature Center started life as, duh, a one room school house, built to serve the area's farm families.

Farm families? Yup, raising dairy cattle and crops. The school house was built on the east side of 104th St., across from where the Nature Center is now, in 1886. As the Forest Preserve District began buying the farms around it after 1915, the school continued serving its dwindling student population until 1948.

In 1952, the Forest Preserve District bought the building for $600 and moved the school to the west side of 104th Ave. a half mile south of 95th St., converting it into a nature center. I think most of the people who grew up in the Chicago south suburbs have fond memories of family visits and school field trips to the nature center to learn about the preserve's birds, snakes and salamanders, and I think parents of youngsters (including myself) from the last 50 years have been enormously grateful to the center for providing a high quality way to kill a summer morning. 

In 2010, the FPD added a beautiful new visitors center to the school house that includes live animals, expanded exhibits and programming, kids' activity areas, drinking fountains and clean, indoor bathrooms. :-)

The nature center sits just off the Yellow Trail about 2 miles of eastward gravel trail hiking/running/riding from Camp Bullfrog Lake (get a map of the Palos trail system). Make a plan to stop while enjoying GITy Up!