Buckly Homestead – a Living History Farm

by Robin Black

       Settled in 1849 by Irish immigrants who developed their land into a 150-head dairy farm and sold milk to the Chicago market in the early 1900’s. The farm grew in size from 79 acres to 520 acres as it passed through four generations.
      In 1977, part of the homestead was donated by Rose Buckley Pearce to the Lake County Parks so that visitors could experience the feeling of early farm life through a living history outdoor museum. (Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.)
     At the Visitor Center, a short distance from Rt 2, next to the parking area, is: restroom facilities, drinking fountain, information kiosk, and gift shop – which is open Sunday afternoons from May through the first of August, then weekends the end of August through October. The gift shop has unique old-fashioned: historical books, toys, activity & coloring books, crafts, sun bonnets, and stick candy.

     Take the short path from the Visitor Center past the herb garden and through the orchard to the Buckley 1916 family farm. There are barbeque facilities, picnic shelters & tables, cross country trails (no rentals), hiking trails, open play fields, historical buildings, Main house museum, barnyard and farm animals, 1850s pioneer farmstead, 1900s one room schoolhouse, and a 1750s era Native American Village.
     Buckley is also the home of Calumet Astronomy Center -Conway Observatory Field Laboratory & NIR – Northern Indiana Robotic Observatory. Located SE of the farm, from the intersection of Belshaw & Hendricks turn left (E) on Belshaw to the first street (S) Chase then one mile to the observatory. GPS coordinates: 41.268504,-87.375031, confirm clear skys, 773-639-5491, www.casonline.org. PUC conducts Astronomy Camps.
     Tourism Tips: 3606 Belshaw Rd, Lowell, IN, Park open 7am- sunset year round, GPS coordinates: 41.283566,-87.377509, Custom Adult or Family Group Tours are available for a fee, from April through October, the historical buildings are closed to the public until September events.. Call or check website for dates, times and fees, also for weather conditions for some activities. http://www.lakecountyparks.com/buckley.html, 696-0769.
     Consider joining the fun and call to volunteer. Att: teachers or group leaders! 4- 5th grade group tours are available for some events along with Pioneer Day Hands-on experiential educational program, call for reservations and details.
YEARLY EVENTS
     January/February- Weekend Horse-drawn Bobsled Rides. Winter weather is a tricky thing, what you experience at home may not be what is happening on the farm in Lowell, so call ahead before coming to the park to make certain rides will be offered (need snow & not too cold). Dolly and Molly, the beautiful Belgian horses that call Buckley home, will pull you (& up to 10) along the snowy paths of the farm. The open bed wagon on runners, is a chilly 20 minute ride so make sure you dress accordingly and bring a blanket for your lap.
     Spring – FallLabyrinth Inspiration, Located E of the Visitor Center, an elliptical winding path in the form of the Classical 7-Circuit pattern with 60 ft diameter. The two-foot pathway goes into the center and back out so there are no dead ends and no decisions to be made. When you walk the labyrinth, you meander back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different section.
     Many people use the labyrinth for reflection, meditation, inspiration, or for clearing the mind. School children during their daytime tours may experience the labyrinth joyfully. Other visitors may choose the quiet dawn or late afternoon to experience a calming effect.
     June/Sept/Oct–   Woodland Indian Camp, (on a few weekends only) 18th century Native village has wigwams and a warm fire to greets travelers, corn and venison are plentiful, and you will find many aspects of daily life being interpreted by the Callumic Band of Great Lakes Woodland Alliance, www.historypresentations.tripod.com.

     MayWWII Re-enactments, Re-enactors from all over, don authentic uniforms and use restored military equipment to portray WWII. Throughout the weekend, the park comes to life with memories of the war years, both military and on the homefront. If you are a veteran, history enthusiast, or would just like to learn more about the 1940s era, this is the place for the entire family and students. Memorial Service and tent for Vets.
     MAY: –Gatsby Summer Afternoon Picnic and Vintage Automobiles, Dress up and enjoy the show, historic Cobe Cup race is now drive from Crown Point Fairgrounds to Buckley. Car registration fees proceeds go to restoration efforts of repairs to the main house and the barn.
     JulyBuckley 5 Miler Walk & Run, 6 am to 7:15 am registration, 7:30 am Race Start, Call Lowell Park Department 696-1570 for information or pre-registration.

     Sept-October- Non Reserved Hayrides, Enjoy the quiet, steady pace of the horses as they pull the hay wagon around the back 80 acre trail. Look for pheasant, deer, and coyote as you travel through the wooded areas and open fields past the pioneer log cabin. first-come, first-serve basis on most weekends, except during Festival.
     September -The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, for four magical nights, Buckley Homestead is transformed into Tarrytown, NY, a quiet, dreamy little village known to many as Sleepy Hollow. The village abounds with stories and superstitions, the most famous of which is of a Hessian soldier who lost his head in the war and rides each night in search of a new one. Experience the excitement of classic literature come to life.
     The walking tour lit by lanterns, is about one mile long on a primitive trail, not recommended for strollers or those who have hard time walking on uneven surfaces. Get your tickets early – they sell out fast.
    October Fall Festival, Old Time Traditions, See the farm on the Hayride Shuttle. Good food (all you can eat ham & bean soup), wonderful authentic entertainment and traditional arts and crafts demo’s i.e. quilters, spinners, weavers, china painter, etc.
     Along the trail to the pioneer cabin reenactors portray military, civilians, cowboys, Indians, and artisans of various time periods, like broom makers and wood carvers.
     Next visit the Indian Village near where the Kankakee River used to be. A reassembled “fancy” log cabin hangs herbs and beans from the rafters. On the way back visit the Schoolhouse and hear a story.
     Take a taste of cornbread, hot from the wood-burning stove, then purchase Deep River stone ground cornmeal to take home and bake your own. Enter a pie eating or skillet throwing contest. See the root cellar and visit the House Museum. Read Robin’s Full Article about the Festival, CLICK HERE! 
     December – Christmas Long Ago, (weekend event) take 1 1/2hr outdoor walking tours throughout the barnyard, meet both adults and children getting ready for the holiday as they work on homemade toys, speculate about talking animals on Christmas Eve, and bake extra goodies for Christmas morning.

Sue Baxter