Carpenter Park

Nature Preserve Area: 
Location and Access: 
Take Business 55 from Springfield north, crossing the Sangamon River. Proceed north from the bridge approximately 200 yards and turn west into the entrance of Carpenter Park. Proceed west on this road approximately 1/4 of a mile to the parking lots. The preserve lies on the north side of the Sangamon River immediately west of the Business I-55 bridge.

Carpenter Park is a 322 acre tract with high quality upland and floodplain forest communities, intermittent streams, small seeps, and sandstone bedrock outcrops. These features represent over half of the remaining forest that originally occurred along the major streams of the Springfield Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division. Carpenter Park has a well documented history which begins with the local Indians who wintered on the bluffs above a river they called Sain quee-mon (Sangamon). Two of the early settlers, William and Margaret Higgins, built a cabin near the present day preserve and may have been the first white people to view the area. William Carpenter arrived in 1820 and opened a small farm, established a ferry, and erected a flour and saw mill on the Sangamon River. Carpenter's daughter Sarah inherited the property and eventually sold it to the Springfield Park District in 1922. In spite of heavy use, the preserve still maintains a high quality wet-mesic floodplain forest, dominated by old growth sycamore, silver maple, cottonwood, and boxelder trees. The dry-mesic upland forest community is dominated by black and white oaks with scattered black cherry and hickory. The steep slopes and ravines support red and white oak. The canopy trees are nearly one hundred years old, but past disturbances have eliminated the younger age classes. This large tract along the river is important habitat for many wildlife species such as deer, raccoon, white-footed mouse, and short-tailed shrew. At least 82 species of birds nest here, including the pileated woodpecker, scarlet tanager, summer tanager, Kentucky warbler, parula warbler, yellow-throated warbler and prothonotary warbler.

Springfield Park District
May 1979
322 acres with an additional 19.5 acres of buffer
Topographic Quad: 
Springfield West
Topo Map: 
For further information: 
Springfield Park District, P.O. Box 5052, Springfield, IL 62705 (217/522-8434)