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Seeking information/photos for Joliet park

A couple weeks ago I had the thrill of walking up Snake Hill in Joliet's Highland Park. The last time I walked it was 50 years ago, when I was at a school picnic – St. Bernard's Catholic School in Joliet. Some friends and I had left the hill and walked to Pilcher Park and back.
A couple weeks ago I had the thrill of walking up Snake Hill in Joliet's Highland Park. The last time I walked it was 50 years ago, when I was at a school picnic – St. Bernard's Catholic School in Joliet. Some friends and I had left the hill and walked to Pilcher Park and back.

When I share my memories about Highland Park – even to longtime Joliet residents – I often receive one of two responses.

The first is "Really? I don't remember that." The second is, "I vaguely remember that."

So I thought readers might like to know more about Highland Park, which neighbors the much more familiar Pilcher Park on Joliet's east side.

But finding that information has been challenging, even with asking on Joliet area social media groups.

Last week I spent some time with Heather Bigeck, curator at the Joliet Area Historical Museum, and Dave Rubner of the New Lenox Historical Society. Both people provided some early photos of the park as well as some of its back story.

Larry Burich, director of planning/parks for the Joliet Park District also gave me some information. Also, about 10 years (maybe more) ago, I wrote a story about Frisbee golf coming to Highland Park, which Frisbee golf devotees still use, Burich said.

Here's what I'm seeking for a future story on Highland Park: information and photos of the park, especially the area at the very top of the hill, from the 1970s to the early 1980s.

During that time, especially the 1960s to the early 1970s, that area of the park had several play areas with swings, teeter-totters and monkey bars. I know because I played on that equipment.

It had a swimming pool and bath house. It had tennis courts. I know because I swam in that pool, and because my mother sent me for tennis lessons on those courts the summer of 1974 when I was 12.

It had a pavilion with picnic tables and an area for concessions. I know because we had school picnics up there. I was in that pavilion and sat at those tables. I vaguely recall my parents talking at the dinner table about someone burning down that pavilion. Is that true?

These are the parts of the park no one seems to remember. The hill is now grass and two concrete slabs.

I do have a photo of the old Boy Scout log cabin. Someone told me the Joliet Drama Guild used to hold events there.

The totem pole outside the nature center at Pilcher Park used to stand outside that cabin. But that cabin, too, I was once told, has burned down.

If you have information or photos, please contact me at 815-280-4122 or dunland@shawmedia.com.

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