Genuine Northwest: Spring/Summer Edition

Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County photo

Kline Creek Farm

Timber Ridge Forest Preserve, 1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago, (630) 876-5900,

Surrounded by lush woodlands, this old-time farm whisks visitors back to the 1890s, with help from costumed interpreters who tell the story of the Kline family, who settled here in 1837. After developing the land into a 200-acre dairy farm, the family replaced their farmhouse in 1889. This is the period that costumed volunteers re-create for visitors.

Almost everything that went into running the farm is painstakingly re-created today. In fact, it’s a working farm.

Depending on the time of year, visitors can expect to see volunteers planting heirloom fruits and vegetables, curing meat in the smokehouse, or harvesting crops of corn or oats. The stable includes cattle, horses, sheep and chickens that all need tending. The farm’s apiary was added in 1984 so beekeepers could process honey.

The farmhouse and other structures on Kline Creek Farm contain original artifacts and reproductions that lend a genuine feel to the era. At the nearby Timber Ridge Visitor Center, seasonal exhibits provide more information, and a center shop gives visitors a chance to take home a souvenir.

Information about school programs and field trips is available on the farm’s website.
Hours: Thur.-Mon. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission by donation.

Sue Olin photo

Volo Bog State Natural Area

28478 Brandenburg Road, Ingleside, (815) 344-1294,

The story of Volo’s quaking bog began 12 millennia ago, as the glaciers that once covered northern Illinois began to recede. Chunks of ice crumbled away from these ice giants, forming a large lake that, as the centuries went on, filled with vegetation. Eventually, a giant spongy floating mat of moss formed into what’s now the bog’s surface. This mass, surrounded by an open pool of water, makes Volo Bog the only quaking bog in Illinois.

Volo Bog’s status makes it a pretty big deal. In 1958, local citizens teamed up with the Nature Conservancy to raise money to purchase the bog. In the late 1960s they rallied again to protect the bog from proposed development. The land was eventually transferred to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which manages it today. The bog was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1974, and the Friends of Volo Bog formed in 1983 to continue protecting the bog.

Visitors can explore an interpretive boardwalk and visitor center, where they can learn more about Volo Bog’s origins and ecosystem. There are an additional 5 miles of hiking trails, and a picnic area is available for picnicking and grilling.

Hours: Daily 8 a.m. to sunset.

Small Wonders Micro/Mini Car Museum

3515 Oak Ridge Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 236-1650,

Ken and Sylvia Sweger use their tiny museum to propel their passion for the story of mini cars and micro cars.

For the uninitiated, a micro car is a small vehicle propelled by a 499 cubic capacity (cc) or smaller engine. This includes self-propelled cars, like the pedal-powered Velocar. Technically, Fred Flintstone’s car would qualify, too. A mini car, on the other hand, uses an engine between 500 and 1,600 cc.

The Swegers have collected an astounding array of more than 140 vehicles, ranging in age from the early 1900s up to 2012. Micro/mini car enthusiasts will recognize some usual suspects, like Messerchmitts, Isettas and Austin Mini Coopers, but the museum also features some offbeat entries, like an aqua car and some of the first electric cars.

The museum also houses an extensive library of historical records and books that are a treasure trove for car lovers as well as collectors restoring their own vehicles. It’s all part of the Swegers’ mission to preserve these unique vehicles for future generations while delivering more smiles per mile.

Hours: Sat. 10 a.m-11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., from May to June. Tours by appointment only.