Springbrook Prairie sprawls between 75th and 87th Streets, enclosing both Book and Naperville-Plainfield Roads. It’s no surprise to learn that Spring Brook runs through the prairie. The vast green space includes Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve with Springbrook Golf Course in the southwest corner.
The land on which the golf course sits was once owned by the Fraley family. Frank and Jenny Fraley were founding members of the Rural Progress Club in 1917 and raised five children on their Wheatland Township farm. It was the the first piece of property owned by the then-fledgling Park District, purchased in 1967 thanks to a matching grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Anticipating the housing boom of the 1970s, the land was intended to preserve green space among new building and help control run-off and flooding. A campground was planned with a beach for swimming on a 200 acre lake shaped like a dragon. The dragon remains in the bronze map of Naperville which is embedded in the sidewalk on Jackson Avenue.
Dragon Lake never materialized, however. A “stream re-meandering” project instead created wide curves to slow water flow during heavy rains and fight erosion.
“Re-meandering” helped improve the habitat for wildlife that lives in and near the water. In fact, the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission designated the area in1993 as the Springbrook Prairie Nature Preserve and Springbrook Marsh Land and Water Reserve.
In addition to all the nature found in Springbrook Prairie, seven miles of pathways are open to joggers, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and even horseback riders. An off-leash area for dogs with valid Forest Preserve District permits is accessible from 83rd Street and there is also a model aircraft field accessible from Plainfield-Naperville Road.