Site History

Park History

Atwood Park’s 334 acres are located within the site of the former Camp Grant that was operational for both World Wars - during WWI as a training center and during WWII as an induction center. Atwood is located on the area that was formerly the artillery range. There are still numerous accessible structures within the park, including trench bunkers and a target pit. 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of the first soldiers arriving for training at Camp Grant.


Camp Grant History

Camp Grant 1

  • June 1917: Work begins on Rockford's Camp Grant. Named after Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, it is the largest World War I training facility in the Midwest totalling over 3,000 acres.
  • September 1917: The first draftees arrive. Their primary focus is on infantry-related field skills. Camp Grant would train 56,238 troops during WWI, with an estimated one million people passing through in some capacity.
  • September 1918: An influenza epidemic sweeps the area, closing all schools and public places. Over 1,000 soldiers die at Camp Grant.
  • November 1918: "The Great War" ends and troops return home.
  • 1921-1940: The facilities were auctioned off with only a few buildings remaining. Camp Grant remained an army post until it became home to the Illinois National Guard in 1921. It remained home to the Illinois National Guard until 1940.
  • October 1940 - August 1945: Camp Grant is re-activated as an induction center and medical training post for draftees during World War II. Approximately 100,000 medical personnel were trained at the camp, and at the height of the war it was the nation's largest induction site. The camp also served as a POW detention center and employed 6,000 civilians, greatly boosting the local economy.
  • September 1945: WWII comes to a close. Much of the property became the Chicago/Rockford International Airport.
  • September 1947: The majority of Camp Grant buildings are torn down.

Atwood Center and Park History

  • Fall 1956: Seth B. Atwood donates the money to the Rockford Park District for them to purchase the land.
  • 1957: The Rockford Park District began a residential program at the Atwood Log Lodge. The original lodge was destroyed by fire in 1978.
  • 1960: The current Atwood Lodge was completed.
  • Present: Since its opening in 1957, the Outdoor Recreation and Education program has provided memorable experiences to more than 400,000 participants throughout the Rockford and surrounding areas!

Vision

To be the best urban parks and recreation system in North America, as measured by national standards and the citizens we serve.

Mission

To help people enjoy life by providing an exceptional parks and recreation system.

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