Green Bay Trail

The line of travel on the Green Bay, like all great trails, was more or less in duplicate branches between Chicago and Waukegan. The several branches followed, respectively, the lake shore, the Chicago river and the Skokie, and the Chicago and Desplaines rivers. These three branches will be found on our map as marked A B & C, each one of which again having divergent branches. From Waukegan to Winnetka the particular branch A following the immediate lake shore does so at a uniform distance of about one mile. But from Winnetka south this branch diverged, fan shaped, into a number of trails only one of which reached the mouth of Chicago river.

In these sixteen miles, we must again confine ourselves to the distance of about one mile, more or less, from the shore. The trail came down from the high ground at Winnetka onto long sand and gravel ridges, so situated that the pass could be made from one to the other. Two of these ridges reach the Chicago river, these are the High Ridge at Bowmanville and the Gross Point ridge at Morton. The North Clark Street sandridge came close to the beach of Lake Michigan at Diversey Boulevard and runs out entirely at North Ave. There the Green Bay Trail to reach Fort Dearborn finished or began along the "Sands" close to the shore.

Now our first object will be to show the main line of travel of both Indian and early settler between Chicago and Winnetka. This was accomplished by way of the "Sands", the North Clark St Ridge, the High Ridge, the Gross Point and the Winnetka Ridge. To be more explicit, the main line of travel was north with the bend of the shore from the mouth of Chicago river in line with the oblique part of Rush St, to the little ridge in the Park back of the Lincoln monument. Then edging out into Clark St, as it is today, running on a ridge which soon becomes visible, to a point about where the John Wentworth monument in Rose Hill would come into sight.

At this point it must have been customary to "stop and take your bearings" for here a high gravel ridge lay side by side with a comparative low sandridge. This is the High Ridge. The name at this junction from common usage has perpetuated itself, it is there now. Here the main line of travel from Chicago to Winnetka took the High Ridge by way of Ridge Avenue which also from common usage still connects the two ridges. This route was well chosen, these sandridges for the most part being followed by wet and marshy places.

The Green Bay Trail then was on the High Ridge as shown by Ridge Avenue, passing through Rogers Park and Evanston where it touches the shore of Lake Michigan, marshes and all. This was well enough in its way but our strange traveler would find that he had missed connections somewhere, for to the west lay another and still higher gravel ridge not five hundred feet away like the last one but a full mile. Here we are surrounded by a wet jungle chosen by Antoine Ouilmette for its heavy timber, which he could sell instead of the land. Certainly the lake shore was followed up to Winnetka, marshy places being circumvented by way of the beach. But that was not the main line of travel. The fact that there was water here west of the ridge is engraved with the shovel that dug the Evanston drainage ditch.

Gross Point, Sec 33 town New Trier, was first settled in 1848 and here we have two streets and these at right angles to each other following the configuration of gravel ridges. This is the Gross Point Ridge down to Niles Center which like the High Ridge and Clark Street Ridge are known to have been ancient beach lines of Lake Michigan. The lowest of these spurs turns east and south carrying Gross Point Avenue to Evanston. This is the point sought for as the best connection between the two Ridges and was the main line of travel on the Green Bay Trail. But before reaching Evanston on the High Ridge there was still half a mile of wet land to be crossed where water knee deep, in the wet season, stood in the timber.

Having arrived at the Gross Point corners we are soon convinced that our efforts were not in vain for here we are met by Trails from six different points all using sandridges and all part of the Green Bay Trail system. Here the main line of travel chose the ridge leading directly north. Appropriately the road here today is also called Ridge Avenue. However we follow the ridge for two miles to Winnetka where the ridge, for the distance of one mile composed now of clay, is added to the lake bluff giving a total height of eighty feet above Lake Michigan. Here the streets marked by the main line of travel are Church Road and Maple Street. The junction of the two bluffs in Winnetka then is the landmark of the Green Bay Trail and after the year 1830 the site of the Patterson tavern.

The ground now taken up by the City of Evanston had no Indian village proper, no village refuse being found, only indications of camps showing transitory existence, being one of the stations on the Green Bay Trail arriving by both land and water. Indians were here most any time in the traveling season passing in large or small parties or tarrying at their leisure upon the wooded bluff which rises forty feet above the water. This should also account for the incidental Indian burials distributed in Evanston along the lake shore. (Grover's Evanstonian) The chips of Indian camp sites were found at Greenleaf St & Sheridan Road and at Ridge & Lincoln Ave.

No Indian village sites or mounds were found along the North Shore between Evanston and Waukegan. The few camps found, one on the Wm. J. Trumbull farm, Sec 1 town New Trier, are like the trail a mile away. At this point we should say that the site of Chicago was the former site of a number of Indian villages collectively forming a metropolis of several thousand inhabitants. If in the latter end of the stone age none of these were found at the mouth of its river we know now by the aid of its geology that the mouth of its river was formerly at one of the largest Indian villages, Bowmanville. This latter fact should aid us in deciphering the probable age of "The Chicago".