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Des Plaines River Cleanup Volunteers Find Historic Wagon Wheel

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Wagon Wheel

A wagon wheel, seen in a 1931 historical photo. (Credit: G.W. Ackerman/USDA Historical Photo/Public Domain)

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LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. (CBS) — You never know what you’re going to find if you volunteer to clean out your local river.

A few volunteers were cleaning up a section of the Des Plaines River near Lincolnshire in Lake County last weekend and, besides the 18 or so tires and a couple of large metal ladders they found, found something round, but not natural.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

“We took a shovel and some elbow grease, and started to dig it out, and lifted it up and discovered that we had a wagon wheel,” volunteer Tom Eckls said.

Eckls says he saw it buried in the riverbed next to the river north of Ryerson Woods. He figures it dates back to the mid-to-late 19th century or early 20th century, and may have belonged to a farmer or someone traveling through Lake County.

“Imagine the history,” he said.

The wheel has metal around the business side, and wooden spokes.

“It’s very badly rusted, for the metal, and some of the spokes are in surprisingly good shape and a couple of them are broken,” Eckls said. “Considering how long it’s been where it’s been, it’s in surprisingly good shape.”

Eckls hopes to find a good home for the wagon wheel – either with the Lake County Forest Preserve District or a historical museum.

The next big Des Plaines River clean-up in the northern suburbs is Sept. 15.

The “It’s Our River Day” event involves a number of agencies, from the Lake and Cook County Forest Preserve Districts to local canoe and kayak clubs.

Volunteers are needed at Allison Woods in Cook County and Ryerson Woods in Lake County.

The cleanup at both locations starts at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 15.

Organizers ask that people register ahead of time by sending an email to coordinator@upperdesplainesriver.org.

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