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Swallow Cliff Facts

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Swallow Cliff Toboggan Slides

  Did you know....

          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.

 

Information obtained from an article by John Rodgers,

President of The Palos Historical Society

 

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