Situated where Jordan Creek meets the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River, this property was purchased by LCF in 2020. Both of these streams are on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory, an indication of their high quality. The surrounding floodplain and forest support an abundance of wildflowers. This site has a rich and varied history. The name "Mouth of Jordan" was long associated with the location's role as a favorite recreational destination.
MOUTH of JORDAN RESERVE
14 acres located southwest of Oakwood in Vermilion County, IL
History & Significance
On January 31, 2020, LCF purchased 11 acres of land at the mouth of Jordan Creek at the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River. The land was acquired with assistance from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and support from generous local donors. Three adjacent acres extending along the Salt Fork were purchased on June 5, 2020.
The site is on the Illinois Natural Areas Inventory due to the high-quality aquatic life there, including endangered freshwater mussel species and the threatened mudpuppy salamander. Winged visitors to the area have included wood ducks and a red-shouldered hawk. In spring, the surrounding upland forest is filled with a rich variety of wildflowers.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Jordan Creek is 11 miles long and has an average width of 13 feet. The width of the Salt Fork ranges from 50 to 95 feet.
The area around the Salt Fork and Jordan Creek has been known by many names since settlers arrived in the early 1800s. Donald Richter notes that, for those who crossed the river to the north of this site, the area was referred to as “Jordan Ford.” There was no bridge, but roads ran to the spot from both sides, and a ford existed until about 1950.
Richter says that, when bitter winters froze the Salt Fork a few inches deep, ice was harvested here for home iceboxes. This use ended by the 1940s, with the arrival of refrigerators.
Local historian Dannel McCollum recalls another relatively modern, practical function: Cars were brought here to be washed — in the river!
A portion of the river upstream was called the “English Channel” by some early 19th-century pioneers, according to local resident Richard “Dick” Woodard. These deep waters are among the best places to catch catfish in the Salt Fork, Woodard notes.
To the south, the area was known as the “Mouth of Jordan." It was a popular recreational spot for summer picnickers and swimmers. The more adventurous used a cable swing to leap into the river's deepest waters. Numerous baptisms were held here.
Note: A second Jordan Creek site exists in Vermilion County — Jordan Creek of the North Fork, located 15 miles north of Danville. Dedicated as a Nature Preserve in 1999, this 46.7-acre site is owned by the Vermilion County Conservation District.
Sources of Historical Information:
Commercial-News, Danville; Wicoff, Mary; May 2, 2020; Richter: Salt Fork has beauty, long history.
Vermilion County Museum, Heritage Magazine; Autumn 1980; Richter, Donald; Ghost Town-Jordan.
Commercial-News, Danville; April 24, 2016; Richter, Donald; Richter: Keeping cool was harder in past.
Email communication with Dannel McCollum and Vermilion County resident James Smith; May 2020.