Photo courtesy of Ron Molk
Hadley Valley consists of 726 acres that spans the City of Joliet and the Village of Homer Glen. It offers three visitor access areas at Route 6, Gougar Road and Bruce Road.
The Forest Preserve District partnered with multiple agencies on a large-scale stream and dechannelization and wetland and wildlife habitat restoration project in the preserve. The project won the prestigious National Planning Excellence Award for implementation from the American Planning Association in 2011.
Hadley Valley’s name is derived from its location atop the Hadley aquifer, a narrow strip of sand and gravel approximately 2 miles wide and 60 feet thick. Five wells were first sunk into the aquifer to provide Joliet with water in the early 1950s. According to Jim Eggen, director of public utilities at the City of Joliet, these wells underwent a major rehabilitation in 2005 and today, each well draws about 500 gallons of water a minute for a total of 2,500 gallons a minute at peak capacity. The city has a total of 26 wells in shallow and deep aquifers to supply its water.
According to a 1964 paper entitled “Ground Water Development in Several Areas of Northeastern Illinois,” the Hadley Valley aquifer “is recharged at an average rate of 300,000 gallons per day per square mile directly from precipitation and from the induced infiltration of water in Spring Creek which transects the Hadley Valley area.”
The name Hadley is locally historical and was likely the origin for the aquifer’s name. “The first post office was established in Homer Township in 1836,” relates “The History of Will County, Illinois 1878.”
“The office was called Hadley, for Hadley, Mass., from which some of the settlers came who were active in getting it.”
Further, “The first church organized in Will County is said to have been the Presbyterian Church at Hadley.”
For a time it appeared that Hadley was on its way to “becoming a town. At one time it boasted two stores, a post office, blacksmith-shop, church, etc., but railroads and the [I & M] canal changed the order of things, and the glory of Hadley waned.”
Behind the name of each forest preserve is a story. These are just a few of those accounts.
Special thanks to Bill Kohl and the Bolingbrook Historical Society for their assistance with this article.
Lead image by Glenn P. Knoblock