Something old is now something new on the Jefferson County Park trail system. Thanks to a donation from the family of the late Melvin Hanna of Libertyville we now have an original Rock Island Railroad Crossing Signal at the main trailhead parking lot in Jefferson County Park.
This signal, complete with cross arm signs, lights and bell was on the old abandoned Rock Island Railroad west of Libertyville. Melvin salvaged the sign when the railroad ground was being reclaimed for farming after the bankruptcy of the Rock Island Railroad in 1980. The signal was in very poor condition. After restoring the signal to working condition it was installed at the gate entrance to the Hanna acreage on the west edge of Libertyville where it has been until recently.
With a move from Libertyville coming up, Melvin's widow Jessie and son Kevin thought that it would be nice to reconnect the signal to the railroad in some way. The signal was offered to the Jefferson County Conservation Board and was enthusiastically accepted. Kevin even delivered it to the park.
The signal was installed along the trail just north of the parking in Jefferson County Park for several reasons. First, it is very visible at this location and will be seen by most park and trail users. Second, this section of trail as well as the park entrance road leading to this parking lot were part of the original Rock Island Railroad. In addition, part of the relocated Rock Island Railroad that this signal was originally located on also runs through the park and is only about half of a mile north of this location.
So the signal really has come back to its roots and is helping to provide some local railroad history for the park and trail system. Our thanks to the Melvin Hanna Family.
Through October 2007 the trail buggy will be available for trail rides on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday evenings of the month. Advanced registration is required and priority will be for seniors and challenged individuals.
The trail buggy accommodates up to seven adults plus the driver. We prefer to have at least five individuals per ride so consider bringing a few of your friends along. Most rides will be in Jefferson County Park and on the Cedar View Trail; however rides on other areas of the Loop Trail may become available in the future. And most rides will be from 45 minutes to 1 hour long. There is a $3.00 fee per person.