This presentation is part of Preserving U.S. Military Heritage: WWII to the Cold War, Fredericksburg, Texas, June 4-6, 2019.
by Paula L. Bryant
Located within metropolitan Chicago, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County owns and manages nearly 70,000 acres, or 11% of Cook County. This land management agency is the largest forest preserve district in the United States, with an estimated 40 million visits each year. Along with over 620 recorded archaeological sites, the Forest Preserves also contain the remains of three Civilian Conservation Corps camps, all of which were later used as World War II German Prisoner-Of-War branch camps of Fort Sheridan. In particular, Camp Skokie Valley, was one of the largest CCC Camps in the United States, housing over 2,000 men responsible for building the Skokie Lagoons, among other projects. The site was subsequently partially occupied by the 740th Military Police Battalion as Camp Glenview, then utilized as a German POW camp.
Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey at the University of Illinois-Urbana are collaborating with Forest Preserve staff, the public, and researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago and the U.S. Forest Service on the documentation, interpretation, and preservation of the remnants of these CCC and POW Camps that have been hidden in plain sight. Given that the camps are situated within the third largest metropolitan area in the country, the potential for community access and community directed research and preservation is presumed great. We will discuss our ongoing efforts that have focused on raising local awareness of Camp Skokie Valley/Camp Glenview with public tours, using the area for the archaeological training, and further documenting the structures within the site.
Paula L. Bryant is a staff archaeologist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey in Elgin, Illinois where her research interests currently focus on the management of cultural resources within public lands.