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Prospect Cemetery Prairie Nature Preserve

  • This high quality original prairie is a tiny remnant of the tallgrass prairie that once covered east-central Illinois.

  • Nearly 80 species of native plants live here, 21 of which occur nowhere else in the county.

  • 5 acre cemetery and a black oak grove. Prospect Cemetery was created in 1859, and was the first cemetery in Ford County. 

  • Serves as a memorial to both the persons buried here as well as to the natural heritage of Illinois.

Located in the Grand Prairie Section of the Grand Prairie Natural Division, Prospect Cemetery Prairie is a 5 acre cemetery with a remnant mesic black soil prairie and black oak grove. Created in 1859, Prospect Cemetery was the first cemetery in Ford County. Burials continued until 1914 and possibly later, but no burial records have been located.

Grand Prairie Friends served as the volunteer stewardship organization to preserve, protect and restore this vital habitat since 1984. Thanks to funding provided by Cargill, Inc. and Ford Ridge Wind Energy, Grand Prairie Friends was able to purchase this site in May 2022.  Under GPF management, this purchase ensured perpetual protection for this ecosystem.

The preserve has a natural appearance in the southern third of the site, where the high quality prairie reflects presettlement conditions. At least 131 species of native herbaceous forbs and grasses have been identified, of which 21 occur nowhere else in the county. A few of these unusual plants include yellow star-grass, green milkweed, cream wild indigo, prairie gentian, and prairie blazingstar. Common species include big bluestem, indian grass, little bluestem, and prairie dropseed.

North on US 45 from Urbana to Paxton.  Take first right on Green St to the T.  Turn right.  Park at iron entrance gate to Preserve on left.



1398 S Vermillion St, Paxton, IL 60957

Lat: 40.445116 Long: -88.097909

Directions to the Preserve

Preserve is open for public access dawn to dusk. This is an Illinois State Nature Preserve, and use is limited to walking, birding, and photography. Camping, picnicking, littering, pets, and vehicles are not allowed inside the preserve. All plants, animals, birds, and insects are protected, so do not disturb or remove any natural objects including rocks, plants, seeds, or insects.

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Guidelines for visiting the Preserve

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