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'Raising Riverview' exhibit explores Will County's farm roots

A view of a limestone house and red barn.
(Photo by Anthony Schalk)

A new exhibit at Isle a la Cache Museum will take visitors back in time to Will County's agricultural roots and early Wheatland Township settlers.

“Raising Riverview” Riverview Farmstead Exhibit runs through Friday, May 31. 

“This exhibit highlights one of our most unique sites, Riverview Farmstead Preserve in Naperville,” said Jen Guest, facility supervisor at the museum. “Visitors who experience the exhibit will learn more about how it transformed through the years from vast prairie to booming farm to beautiful preserve. 

The free, family-friendly exhibit will be open during museum hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Isle a la Cache Museum is located at 501 E. Romeo Road (135th St.) in Romeoville. 

The “Raising Riverview” exhibit will focus on the 1800s after Illinois gained statehood and settlers migrated to the area to stake a claim to the new land. They raised barns and families that grew into communities.

One of those early families was the Clows, who started a farm along the DuPage River in a section of Wheatland Township that is now in southern Naperville. The exhibit will feature the tools, grit and resources needed to build a successful farm and community. 

What was once the Clow farm was acquired by the Forest Preserve District for Riverview Farmstead Preserve from 1994 to 2012, and it is a key piece in preserving Will County’s agricultural history, Guest said. 

“In urban areas, such as Naperville, the land is being developed at a rapid rate,” she explained. “The farmstead buildings in the preserves are a reminder of the county’s early roots.” 

Riverview also preserves the history of the Clows.

“The Clow family started with humble beginnings,” Guest said. “As the family and its agricultural endeavors grew, so did their success. As one of the predominant families in this area, there are many area namesakes of the Clow family including Clow International Airport, Robert Clow Elementary School, Clow International Parkway and more. Their legacy continues today.” 

After stopping by the exhibit, visitors are urged to explore Riverview Farmstead either on their own or as part of a guided tour (see below). The 388-acre preserve is located on Book Road, south of Hassert Boulevard/111th Street, in Naperville. The site has three historic farmstead structures including two barns and a limestone house, paths along the DuPage River and a beautiful prairie. 

A complementary exhibit program will be offered:

Riverview Farmstead Tour: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Riverview Farmstead Preserve. The Clow family immigrated from Scotland and over three generations grew “Riverview” from its first house to a 200-acre commercial farm. A naturalist will share stories of the Clows and life on the farm and welcome you inside the 19th-century buildings for a peek into the past. Two 90-minute sessions will be offered at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Register by April 18. Free, ages 12 or older. 

This exhibit was developed by museum staff, with the support of The Nature Foundation of Will County.

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