But before there was Midewin, there was the Joliet Arsenal, and before that there were farmers, and before that settlers, and before that Indian tribes, all on land that once was a tallgrass prairie for thousands of years.
Settlers arrived in the 1830s, and our native Americans moved west. The settlers developed an agricultural economy which lasted 100 years. In 1940 the U.S. Army purchased over 36,000 acres of this land to build World War II’s largest arsenal complex, where TNT was manufactured and shells and bombs were loaded.
The Arsenal operated during three wars, World War II, the Korean War, and Viet Nam, before it was no longer considered to be needed by the Army. As plans to surplus the land were considered by the government, various organizations came together to make recommendations on how the land could be best used in the future.