Back in early 2013, we were doing research on Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in DuPage County, and we discovered a mystery. Waterfall Glen is the one that wraps completely around Argonne National Laboratory near Darien. That means Route 66 passed it on the north side. Of course, the feds didn’t give back all that land to the county until the mid-1970s, but part of that land had been a preserve long before Argonne was built after World War II. And it had the only natural waterfall in all of DuPage County.
Actually, during the Great Depression, FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps created a manmade waterfall on Sawmill Creek on the east side of what is now Waterfall Glen. That’s not the one we mean, but it’s the one everyone thinks the preserve is named after (wrong again; more on that a little later). The creek that has the natural falls – and a cascade, too — is way over in the southwest corner of the preserve, east of Lemont Road and just off Bluff Road as that street wends its way northeast toward St. Patrick Cemetery on the outskirts of Argonne Lab. When we asked about that creek, we found out that nobody knew its name. The poor thing was a nameless orphan. WELL, we couldn’t have that, now could we?
So, after exhausting all our relevant contacts in DuPage County, we did the logical thing for geographers (two of us are, anyway; your scrivener is a journalist): we wrote to the United States Board of Geographic Names, the official naming body for land features. The Board of Geographic Names is part of the U.S. Geological Survey. We figured that if there was a name already, they’d know it. There wasn’t – not for the creek, its branches, or the falls and the cascade – so we suggested one.
Last Friday, my co-author Joe Kubal (who wrote the letter for us) got a reply. Our poor little orphan has a name! Lovely little Canyon Creek. And here’s the letter (those of you who are map fans or geographers will appreciate the location information; for the rest of you, we’ve included the map):
Dear Mr. Kubal:
We are pleased to inform you that the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, at its April 10, 2014 meeting, approved your proposals to make official the names Canyon Creek, East Branch Canyon Creek, West Branch Canyon Creek, Canyon Creek Falls, and Canyon Creek Cascade for three streams and two falls in DuPage County and Cook County. The names have been entered into the Geographic Names Information System, the nation’s official geographic names repository, which is available and searchable online at http://geonames.usgs.gov.
The entries read as follows:
Canyon Creek: stream; 0.5 mile long; heads at 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 19 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 17 seconds west, flows SW to enter Goose Lake, Cook County, IL; Sections 19&20, T37N, R11E, Third Principal Meridian; 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 0 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 51 seconds west; USGS map – Sag Bridge 1:24000.
Canyon Creek Falls: falls: approximately 8 feet high; located along East Branch Canyon Creek in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve; DuPage County, IL; Section 17, T37N, R11E, Third Principal Meridian, 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 43 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 1 second west; USGS map – Romeoville 1:24000.
Canyon Creek Cascade: falls: approximately 3 ft. high; located along East Branch Canyon Creek, in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve; DuPage County, IL; Section 17, T37N, R11E, Third Principal Meridian; 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 45 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 2 seconds west; USGS map – Romeoville 1:24000.
East Branch Canyon Creek: stream: 1.3 miles long: heads in Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve, flows SW then S to join West Branch Canyon Creek to form Canyon Creek, 1 mile NE of Goose Lake, 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 58 seconds north, 87 degrees, 59 minutes, 42 seconds west; DuPage County, IL, Sections 20 & 17, T37N, R11E, Third Principal Meridian; 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 9 seconds n, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 17 seconds west; USGS map – Romeoville 1:24000.
West Branch Canyon Creek: stream: 0.6 miles long; heads in Waterfall Glen County Forest Preserve, flows south to join East Branch Canyon Creek to form Canyon Creek, 1 mile NE of Goose Lake, 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 39 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 20 seconds west; DuPage County, IL, Sections 20 & 17, T37N, R11E, Third Principal Meridian, 41 degrees, 41 minutes, 9 seconds north, 88 degrees, 0 minutes, 17 seconds west, USGS map – Romeoville 1:24000.
U.S. Board on Geographic Names
All three of us are just so happy and as proud as new parents over here [multiple grins all around]. And no nobody will confuse that silly manmade thing with the real falls. We suppose the forest preserve district will have to mark the path now (hint, hint!) so that people can find it. Or not. But you can always ask the ranger at the gate at the southeast entrance on Bluff Road.
Oh, BTW, about the forest preserve’s name … You figured it was because of the waterfalls, right? WRONG. The former Rocky Glen Forest Preserve was renamed after Seymour “Bud” Waterfall, an early board president of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, of which the preserve is a part. The preserve has been around just about as long as Route 66. The renaming happened in 1973, when the forest preserve district bought an additional 2,200 acres to add to the preserve and decided it was a good time to honor a former official. Most visitors don’t know this, however, and may not care about a bureaucrat they never knew – so let’s just say the preserve’s name has a double meaning today. Besides, with two waterfalls on the property, the preserve does live up to its name.
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Until next time,
The proud parents (Marie, Joe and Keith)