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Wolf Road Prairie TIMELINE

75 million years ago Shallow seas cover the Chicago area. The climate is warm and humid - dinosaurs inhabit the land, sea and sky.
65 million Newly exposed land surfaces are changed by wind and rain. Flooding waters cause erosion and sediment deposits and create riverbeds.
6 million The climate becomes warmer and drier and grasses cover the land. Deep root systems evolve to survive fire and drought.
1.5 million First mammoths arrive and large mammals become plentiful.
18 thousand Pleistocene glaciers cover most of Illinois with massive sheets of ice up to a mile high. The climate is as cold as the Arctic.
15 thousand The ice sheets slowly retreat northward and meltwater creates a great lake larger than today's Lake Michigan known by geologists as Lake Chicago. Glacial erratics from Canadian bedrock are left behind. The climate warms and tundra replaces the glaciers with coniferous (pine) forests.
12 thousand The climate continues to warm. Oak and hickory trees replace the pines. Grasses and wildflowers move northward from the south and west to become the Illinois prairie. Large grazing animals like buffalo, elk and deer replace Ice Age mammals.
8 thousand The first Native American people follow the herds northward. Fire becomes a new force on the landscape.
1674-80 AD French explorers Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet arrive and trade with native tribes. La Salle calls region "Che-cau-gou"- native term from which Chicago gets its name.
Late 1770s Jean Baptiste Point DuSable establishes first settlement on the grasslands by Lake Michigan which becomes present day Chicago.
1830s Native Americans are forced westward from the Chicago area. European settlers begin arriving. John Deere invents steel moldboard plow which breaks tough prairie sod and begins farming practices which destroy the prairie.
1852 Black bear, bison, cougar and lynx still live in Cook County wilderness. German community of Franzosenbusch is founded near Wolf Road Prairie. Scattered communities of German settlers establish underground railroad stations to aid slaves.
1925 The Village of Westchester is founded.
1970 to present Wolf Road Prairie is officially recognized and volunteers work to preserve the prairie. Land in the prairie is purchased by Save the Prairie Society, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Wolf Road Prairie becomes a dedicated Illinois Nature Preserve.