Swallow Cliff Facts
Swallow Cliff Toboggan Slides
Called “Terror Hill” by many local residents and fans, it was the tallest and the longest of the 5 toboggan slides in the Cook County area. The other slides, were Bemis Woods in Western Springs, Dan Ryan 87th and Western in Chicago, Deer Grove in Palatine, and Jensen Slides in Caldwell Woods, in Chicago, at Milwaukee and Devon. The Forest Preserve District was established in 1909. 13 years later they acquired 288 acres, that were the first of now 800 acres at Swallow Cliff, that contain many hiking and biking paths, many waterways, old stone bridges, (that were built by the CCC ( Civil Conservation Corp) in the 30,s and Irish immigrants, who dug the I & M Canal in the mid 1800’s), wild life, and lots terrific scenery.
A tall, 100 ft. structure, made of steel & wood was
constructed for a ski jump in the mid 1920’s. The ski jump was limited
to professional skiers only, as it was very narrow, dangerous and there
were many injuries. One year a skier jumped so high that he hit a cable
and was scalped, and bled to death.
Crowds up to 30,000 would come to watch contests. It became world
famous when skiers came from Europe to practice for the Olympics. The
ski jump was torn down in 1943. Summertime also drew large crowds for
motorcycle races to the top.
In 1928 the first slide was built. It was an instant hit and drew
large crowds. The remaining slides were built in the 30’s by The CCC
(Civil Conservation Corp). The house at the top and the gates were
erected for the safety,
and control of crowds that came. Hot Chocolate, coffee and toboggan
rental could be obtained at the warm up building. The first few snow
falls of the season usually brought the largest crowds
An ice rink was also constructed in the area. Over the years
youngsters of all ages enjoyed the slides in the summer, by sliding down
on boards, cardboard boxes, and metal covers of all types.
Despite the protests of many, most of the slides were closed
in the early 2000’s.
Some due to repairs and litigation from law suits.
Enjoyed by little children, seniors, and all ages in between over
the years. What great memories this place must hold for many families
and individuals. From the long climb, (originally 121 stairs) to the
sheer 100’-0” drop, attaining great speed and the thrill of a few
seconds to the bottom of the slides, only to be repeated as many times
as possible each day you could go there. The steps, houses, and other
parts still remain, plus the memories cannot be taken from us.
obtained from an article by John Rodgers,
President of The Palos Historical Society
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