It is reported that this area was a beach 10,000 years ago.  After countless ages of geological swamps, marshes and sloughs, the prairies dominated the landscape with groves of trees, flowers and wildlife in abundance.  Markham was a crossroad for early pioneers at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  In 1861, the Ottawa, Chippewa and Potawatomi Indians signed a treaty to relinquish a passage of land (located between the Chicago and Calumet Rivers) to the settlers.  The southern boundary, known as the Indian Boundary Line, was created and is currently known as Highway Interstate 57.  The Village of Markham was established in 1925, with a population of less than 300 residents.  In the mid-1930’s, the Croissant Park subdivision was built, which increased the population to 2,753 residents by 1950.  The Village developed into a residential community when more people began seeking homes.  An airport was developed at 165th and Kedzie and was the nearest airport to Chicago.  The Village of Markham was incorporated as a City on August 24, 1967 and celebrated its ninety (90) year anniversary in 2015.


In 1860, a German immigrant named Lawrence Roesner journeyed to the southern boundary and settled on land located in the northwestern corner of Markham.  He brought six seedlings from the Black Forest in Germany and planted them along the Indian Boundary line.  “This Lone Pine Tree” was adopted as the official City symbol in 1985.  The lone survivor of the six pine trees died in 1986.  The tree was replaced by the Markham City Council with a tree from the Black Forest in Germany and planted by the Markham Garden Club.


The Indian Boundary Prairies were established to preserve the rare Native Illinois Prairies that exist in Markham and to educate the public about the uniqueness of Illinois tall grass prairie. There is less than one-tenth of one percent of prairie left in Illinois.
It is truly remarkable that there are several hundred acres still in Markham. The largest prairie site, the Gensburg-Markham Prairie, is just north of the McDonald’s on 159th street and Whipple Ave. It was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 1988. As you can probably tell we are enthused about our work. For more information regarding The Indian Boundary Prairies including times and location of upcoming meetings and events please visit their website at www.ibprairies.org.