Trail of Tears State Forest | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Originally called the Union County Forest, the Trail of Tears State Forest is situated in western Union County, five miles northwest of Jonesboro and 20 miles south of Murphysboro, Ill. Just over 5,000 acres are within the State Forest.
In 1936, Ralph Fisher moved to the area as the forest's first superintendent and proposed adding a nursery to the State Forest, using Civilian Conservation Corps labor. The military veterans (and later German WWII prisoners) began work on a series of roads and buildings, as well as planting trees.
With facilities up and running, the Union County Tree Nursery was able to provide millions of seedlings for reforestation projects throughout the country.
During the 1970s, the forest itself was given the name Trail of Tears State Forest in remembrance of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Creek nations who passed near the forest during the Indian relocation program of 1838.
The Trail of Tears State Forest and Nursery still operates today with Andy West serving as the site superintendent. In addition to coordinating programs regarding the site's cultural and natural history, Mr. West organized a reunion in August 1998 for individuals involved in the park's formative years.