Creekside, Lincoln College’s Outdoor Center for Environmental Education is an innovative 104-acre educational site recognized by the scientific community for its biological diversity and geological and archeological significance. The Center features a lecture pavilion, insectarium, greenhouse, restored tall grass prairie, native gardens, demonstration pond, counsel ring fire pit, solar and wind energy developments, storm water management and rain garden, nature trails, and access to Sugar Creek.
In addition to being used for Lincoln College science curriculum, Creekside is available to area educators for teaching students of all ages about land use, environmental science and conservation, research projects, and to the general public for walking and recreation.
Creekside has free parking and portable restroom facilities. Boardwalks and sidewalks make the site handicapped-accessible.
In 2005, Lincoln College student Judd McCullum discovered Illinois’ largest woolly mammoth fossil, large tusk and parts of another tusk, during a Lincoln College Environmental Biology field trip to Sugar Creek. The tusk is on permanent display at the College library on the main Lincoln campus. In 2006, Professor Dennis Campbell discovered a wooly mammoth tooth at the site. This tooth, the previous tusk, and additional material found in 2009 are carbon-14 dated to 11,500 years ago, making this mammoth one of the last woolly mammoths on Earth.
Creekside is an integral part of the coursework for students in the conservation biology major. So much of scientific investigation takes place outside of a lab and our students get to experience this first hand at Creekside. Topics discussed in lecture are brought to life at Creekside! Students from all course levels (freshman to senior) carry out experiments using portable laboratory equipment, robust enough to take a range of data, while being small enough to fit in their backpacks. Students can also choose to work alongside faculty and take part in their research or create their own!
A key feature of Creekside is the “Peoples of the Past Boardwalk” project which is an accessible interpretive trail to transport visitors hundreds of years into the past. As persons walk along the boardwalk, they also walk back in time from the present. The first phase of the project showcases pioneer and Kickapoo and Mississippian Native American cultures. Eventually, the boardwalk will extend back to the era of woolly mammoths. Currently the boardwalk extends to the Wibben Overlook that gives visitors an elevated vantage point to view Sugar Creek.
In addition to the woodland area along Sugar Creek, Creekside features restored prairie and wildflower areas that allow visitors and students to study and enjoy native plants during all seasons.
Creekside is located along Sugar Creek, about five miles north of Lincoln at 1234 County Road 2000N. Directions: From I-55 take exit 133 toward Lincoln. Turn left onto North Lincoln Parkway and travel three miles. Turn right on 1250th Ave. (Nicholson Road) and travel 3.1 miles (passing over I-55, past the Epperson Subdivision and over Kickapoo Creek) Turn left on 2000th St. (the second left after Kickapoo Creek) and travel about half a mile. Turn right onto the gravel road marked Small-Edwards Trace that leads to Creekside.