Rocky Glen

History, Nature and Adventure in West Peoria Illinois. 

Central Illinois residents have been visiting Rocky Glen for years.  As the Friends of Rocky Glen have led monthly hikes since December 2010 to the site, many stories have surfaced of how people have been coming there for years.  As noted in Monica Vest Wheeler’s book about the history of the Peoria Park District, Rocky Glen used to be known as the place to go.  Students used to visit from Manual High School.  Boy scout troops used to hike regularly.  Individuals have come from surrounding areas as a place to recreate.  The Friends of Rocky Glen formed in late 2010 to help preserve Rocky Glen’s assets in geography, flora, fauna, history of immigrants, and the social fabric that all come together into a very special place.  Through a consolidated effort from the board of directors, membership base, and the many supporters, a great amount of attention was centered on preserving Rocky Glen.

A public hearing was held at Peoria City Hall on November 21,2012 to hear public opinion on whether or not the Peoria City Council should use certain federal land acquisition funds to purchase the property.  The Peoria City Council voted to make the purchase on December 11th, 2012 and subsequently deeded the property to the Peoria Park District. Thanks to generous donors, a parking lot was built and trails were established, including signage and memorial benches.  The Park is open from dawn to dusk.


Coal miners from local mines meet secretly to organize for better working conditions and wages.  The property is owned by George Vicary.  The oldest carved date in the Rocky Glen sandstone walls is 1887.

Rocky Glen becomes a popular picnic and hiking area.  Thanks to Wendy Stevens and Marilyn Voss Leyland for photos!

 Coal mining stops at Rocky Glen.   Take a look at the truck that used to haul coal from Rocky Glen. 

 Horse Shoe Bottomsa novel by Tom Tippett, is published.  Tippett, a local coal miner and union activist, describes Kickapoo Creek coal mining and union organizing, mentioning Rocky Glen as the first location for secret meetings.

Friendly on-site tenant supervises visitors.  Children from Peoria West Bluff and South Side hike to Rocky Glen.  Letters in the newspaper suggest the Peoria Park Board should become the owner. 

 Harold Connaughton purchases the property from George Vicary.  His son, Jim, sells Rocky Glen for public use 58 years later (2012).

Peoria Park District buys 55 acres of adjoining property. 

 The Friends of Rocky Glen (FORG), a non-profit organization, is formed.  With permission from Jim ConnaughtonFORG leads monthly hikes and fundraises to build public support to preserve Rocky Glen. 

 The City of Peoria purchases Rocky Glen from Jim Connaughton.

The City of Peoria transfers ownership to the Peoria Park District.  Rocky Glen becomes open to the public from dawn to dusk.

A parking lot is built, built in part with FORG donations.  Design and construction of the hiking trail begins. Horseshoe Bottoms Committee is established in the spring.  There are 200 acres of cornfield and wooded hillsides directly east of Rocky Glen Park and has the potential to expand the public recreation and natural area.  The committee is meeting on a regular basis and is organizing monthly hikes, restoration work days, and fundraisers. Check out the Friends of Horseshoe Bottoms Facebook Page to stay up to date with events.  Horseshoe Bottoms events are also shared to the Friends of Rocky Glen Facebook Page 

October 20th 2018,  Grand Opening

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