A rail trail is the conversion of a disused railway track into a multi-use path for walking and sometimes horse riding and snowmobiling. The characteristics of abandoned railways—flat, long running through historical areas—are appealing for various developments; the term sometimes covers trails running alongside working railways. Some shared trails are segregated, with the segregation achieved without separation. Many rail trails are long-distance trails. A rail trail may still include rails, such as light streetcar. By virtue of their characteristic shape, some shorter rail trails are known as greenways and linear parks; the only carrier to exist in Bermuda folded in 1948 and was converted to a rail trail in 1984. Some of the former right of way has been converted for automobile traffic, but 18 miles are reserved for pedestrian use and bicycles on paved portions; the rail bed spans the length of the island, connected Hamilton to St. George's and several villages, though several bridges are derelict, causing the trail to be fragmented.
The Kettle Valley Rail Trail in British Columbia uses a rail corridor, built for the now-abandoned Kettle Valley Railway. The trail was developed during the 1990s after the Canadian Pacific Railway abandoned train service; the longest rail trail in Canada is the Newfoundland T'Railway that covers a distance of 883 km ). Protected as a linear park under the provincial park system, the T'Railway consists of the railbed of the historic Newfoundland Railway as transferred from its most recent owner, Canadian National Railway, to the provincial government after rail service was abandoned on the island of Newfoundland in 1988; the rail corridor stretches from Channel-Port aux Basques in the west to St. John's in the east with branches to Stephenville, Bonavista and Carbonear. Following the abandonment of the Prince Edward Island Railway in 1989, the government of Prince Edward Island purchased the right-of-way to the entire railway system; the Confederation Trail was developed as a tip-to-tip walking/cycling gravel rail trail which doubles as a monitored and groomed snowmobile trail during the winter months, operated by the PEI Snowmobile Association.
In Quebec, Le P'tit Train du Nord runs 200 km from Saint-Jérôme to Mont-Laurier. In Toronto, there are the Beltline Trail and the West Toronto Railpath. In central Ontario, the former Victoria Railway line, which runs 89 kilometres from the town of Lindsay, north to the village of Haliburton, in Haliburton County, serves as a public recreation trail, it can be used for cross country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months, walking and horse riding from spring to autumn. The majority of the rail trail passes through sparsely populated areas of the Canadian Shield, with historic trestle bridges crossing several rivers; the old Sarnia Bridge in St. Marys, was re-purposed as part of the Grand Trunk Trail; the former Grand Trunk Railway viaduct was purchased from Canadian National Railway in 1995. The Grand Trunk Trail was opened in 1998 with over 3 km of paved, accessible trail. In 2012, The re-purposing of the Sarnia Bridge was inducted into the North America Railway Hall of Fame. A railroad between Gateway Road and Raleigh Street in Winnipeg, was turned into a 7 km asphalt trail in 2007.
It is called the Northeast Pioneers Greenway, has plans for expansion into East St. Paul, to Birds Hill Park. A considerable part of the Trans Canada Trail are repurposed defunct rail lines donated to provincial governments by CP and CN rail rebuilt as walking trails; the main section runs along the southern areas of Canada connecting most of Canada's major cities and most populous areas. There is a long northern arm which runs through Alberta to Edmonton and up through northern British Columbia to Yukon; the trail is multi-use and depending on the section may allow hikers, horseback riders, cross country skiers and snowmobilers. In North America, the decades-long consolidation of the rail industry led to the closure of a number of uneconomical branch lines and redundant mainlines; some were maintained as short line railways. The first abandoned rail corridor in the United States converted into a recreational trail was the Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin, which opened in 1967; the following year the Illinois Prairie Path opened.
The conversion of rails to trails hastened with the federal government passing legislation promoting the use of railbanking for abandoned railroad corridors in 1983, upheld by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1990; this process preserves rail corridors for possible future rail use with interim use as a trail. By the 1970s main lines were being sold or abandoned; this was true when regional rail lines merged and streamlined their operations. As both the supply of potential trails increased and awareness of the possibilities rose, state governments, conservation authorities, private organizations bought the rail corridors to create, expand or link green spaces; the longest developed rail trail is the 240 miles Katy Trail in Missouri. When complete, the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska will become the longest; the Beltline, in Atlanta, Georgia, is under construction. In 2030, its anticipated year of completion, it will be one of the longest continuous trails; the Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neigh
Kane County, Illinois
Kane County is a county in the U. S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 515,269, making it the fifth-most populous county in Illinois, its county seat is Geneva, its largest city is Aurora. Kane County has been one of the collar counties of the metropolitan statistical area designated "Chicago–Naperville–Elgin, IL–IN–WI" by the US Census. Kane County was formed out of LaSalle County in 1836; the county was named in honor of Elias Kane, United States Senator from Illinois, the first Secretary of State of Illinois. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the county's area was 524 square miles, of which 520 square miles is land and 4.1 square miles is water. Its largest cities are along the Fox River. In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Geneva have ranged from a low of 10 °F in January to a high of 84 °F in July, although a record low of −26 °F was recorded in January 1985 and a record high of 111 °F was recorded in July 1936; the average monthly precipitation ranged from 1.52 inches in February to 4.39 inches in July.
McHenry County Cook County DuPage County Will County Kendall County DeKalb County Fox River Trail Great Western Trail Illinois Prairie Path James "Pate" Philip State Park Kane County has an extensive forest preserve program, with numerous nature preserves, historic sites, trails. As of the 2010 census, there were 515,269 people, 170,479 households, 128,323 families residing in the county; the population density was 990.8 inhabitants per square mile. There were 182,047 housing units at an average density of 350.1 per square mile. The racial makeup of the county was 74.6% white, 5.7% black or African American, 3.5% Asian, 0.6% American Indian, 13.0% from other races, 2.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 30.7% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 24.3% were German, 13.0% were Irish, 7.9% were Polish, 7.4% were Italian, 7.1% were English, 2.4% were American. Of the 170,479 households, 42.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.2% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 24.7% were non-families, 19.8% of all households were made up of individuals.
The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.45. The median age was 34.5 years. The median income for a household in the county was $67,767 and the median income for a family was $77,998. Males had a median income of $53,833 versus $39,206 for females; the per capita income for the county was $29,480. About 7.0% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.5% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over. Aurora University Elgin Community College Judson University Waubonsee Community College There are several hospitals serving the county: Advocate Sherman Hospital, Elgin Delnor Hospital, Geneva Presence Mercy Medical Center, Aurora Presence Saint Joseph Hospital, Elgin Rush-Copley Medical Center, Aurora Metra Pace Aurora Municipal Airport Interstate 88 Interstate 90 U. S. Highway 20 U. S. Highway 30 U. S. Highway 34 Illinois Route 19 Illinois Route 25 Illinois Route 31 Illinois Route 38 Illinois Route 47 Illinois Route 56 Illinois Route 58 Illinois Route 62 Illinois Route 64 Illinois Route 68 Illinois Route 72 Illinois Route 110 Aurora Batavia Elgin Geneva St. Charles Yorkville Prestbury As one of the Yankee-settled and prosperous suburban “collar counties”, Kane County was a stronghold of the Free Soil Party in its first few elections, being one of nine Illinois counties to give a plurality to Martin van Buren in 1848.
Kane County unsurprisingly became solidly Republican for the century and a half following that party’s formation. It voted for the GOP Presidential nominee in every election between 1856 and 2004 except that of 1912 when the Republican Party was mortally divided and Progressive Theodore Roosevelt carried the county with a majority of the vote over conservative incumbent William Howard Taft; the gradual shift of the GOP towards white Southern Evangelicals, has led the moderate electorate of Kane and the other “collar counties” to trend towards the Democratic Party. In 2008, Illinois-bred Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry Kane County since Franklin Pierce in 1852, the first to win an absolute majority of the county’s vote. Obama won a plurality in 2012, Hillary Clinton improved upon Obama’s showing to become the second Democrat to win a majority in 2016. Dundee Township Park District Fermilab Fox River Golden Corridor Illinois Technology and Research Corridor Kane-DuPage Regional Museum Association National Register of Historic Places listings in Kane County, Illinois Tri-Cities, Illinois Patricia Golden Frank D.
Weir GeneralForstall, Richard L.. Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790 to 1990: From the Twenty-One Decennial Censuses. United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. ISBN 0-934213-48-8. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list Kane County official government website
Elroy-Sparta State Trail
The Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail is a 32-mile rail trail between Elroy and Sparta, Wisconsin. Considered to be the first rail trail when it opened in 1967, it was designed for foot, bicycle and light motorized traffic. Designated a multiuse trail, it is open to the public; the trail is part of the larger Wisconsin bike. It is one of four connecting bike trails in west-central Wisconsin that span one-third of the state, it passes through three tunnels. The four connecting west central Wisconsin trails, known as the Bike 4 Trails, going from southeast to northwest are: 400 Trail Elroy-Sparta Trail La Crosse River Trail Great River Trail The Elroy-Sparta bike trail connects to the 400 Trail in Elroy and the La Crosse River Trail in Sparta; the trail headquarters, located in Kendall on Wisconsin Highway 71, is open from May 1 through October 31. There is a fee for use of the trail. Camping, food, bike rentals and information are available at many points along the trail; the trail, constructed upon the abandoned Chicago and North Western Railway railroad bed, is covered with crushed limestone for a smooth ride for bicyclists.
The three tunnels along the trail are impressive feats of nineteenth-century railroad engineering. Tunnel #1, a short distance from Kendall, is surrounded by natural tunnels formed by the surrounding canopy of trees. Tunnel #2, stationed halfway between Wilton and Norwalk, features 20-foot-tall wooden doors on both ends of the tunnel. Both Tunnel #1 and Tunnel #2 are a 0.25 miles each. Tunnel #3, nine miles from Sparta and three miles from Norwalk, is longer than the span of 10 football fields at 0.75 miles. It took $1 million and three years of digging by hand to complete in 1873. List of rail trails List of hiking trails in Wisconsin Official website including history and campground information and maps Elroy Sparta Trail Guidebook Wisconsin Elroy to Sparta State Trail
Fox River Trail (Illinois)
The Fox River Trail is a multi-use path in Illinois along the Fox River. In Kane County, the trail connects the communities of Algonquin, Dundee, South Elgin, St. Charles, Batavia, North Aurora, Aurora and Oswego; the trail begins at the McHenry County line in Algonquin and runs south just over 38 miles to Oswego in Kendall County. A 1 mile gap in Aurora was closed in 2016 by a new protected bike lane. From St. Charles south most of the route is next to Illinois Route 25 on the east side of the river or Route 31 on the west side; the trail crosses the river in several places and between Batavia and North Aurora the trail splits and runs parallel along both sides. Some of the trail is dedicated-use on the former right of way of the A. E.&F. R. E. Co. Interurban railroad and the C.&N. W. Ry. Railroad, but some has been purpose-built along the riverbanks. Using the railroad right of ways allows long sections with little grade change and wide curves, while the purpose-built sections can be closer to the river.
Dedicated-use sections are asphalt paved. Limited portions require a user to travel directly on public streets; the Fox River Trail provides several direct and indirect connections to other local and regional trails, including: Illinois Prairie Path in four places, Geneva and Aurora. Great Western Trail in St. Charles. Virgil Gilman Trail in Aurora. Prairie Trail in Algonquin. Numerous forest preserve and local trails; the section connecting the Prairie Trail in Algonquin and the Illinois Prairie Path in Elgin is part of the Grand Illinois Trail, linking over 500 miles of trails together throughout Illinois. South of South Elgin, this operating museum is the only remaining section of the interurban with rail operations; the trail runs along the side until the end of the track. It crosses the river on a bridge built on the original 1896 interurban piers. Named after eccentric businessman Colonel George Fabyan, it is south of Geneva. On the east side the trail passes a “Dutch” style windmill from the 1850s, moved to the river site and refurbished in 1914.
The trail can cross the river on a small island with a lighthouse built as a joke. The west side of the preserve has a Frank Lloyd Wright designed "Villa", greenhouses and other attractions. In Batavia the west side trail follows a former C.&N. W. Ry. Right of way past the Depot Museum. An 1854 station from the C. B.&Q. R. R. on the east side was moved across the river to its present location in 1973. Both are used as exhibits, the museum has been expanded since. In Aurora a short distance up the connecting Illinois Prairie Path is a large railroad roundhouse. One of two built in the 1850s, it was abandoned in 1974. By 1985 one roundhouse was demolished, the remaining one was refurbished and commercially developed. In South Elgin at Kenyon Rd; the Valley Model Railroad Club moved into the old Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railway Clintonville Station in 1953 and has been there since. Clintonville Substation was built in 1902 and put into service as a power distribution center to convert AC power to 600 volt DC needed to operate the trains which received this electric current via a third rail.
The Valley Model Railroad club is a non-profit member only association. The HO scale trains are run with a state of the art signal and DCC control system developed by one of the members, an electrical engineer; the club hosts many public events year round. The washroom and soda vending machine are available for public use. A future extension to Yorkville in Kendall County is proposed. Kane County Bike Map Map of the Fox River Trail and local links
Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad
The Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad, known colloquially as the "Roarin' Elgin" or the "Great Third Rail", was an interurban railroad that operated passenger and freight service on its line between Chicago and Aurora, Geneva, St. Charles, Elgin, Illinois; the railroad operated a small branch to Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Hillside and owned a branch line to Westchester. Wounded by the increased use of automobiles after World War II, the CA&E abruptly ended passenger service in 1957. Freight service was suspended in 1959, the railroad was abandoned in 1961. Most of the right-of-way has since been converted to the Illinois Prairie Path rail trail; the first known attempt to create an electric railway between the metropolis of Chicago and the Fox Valley settlement of Aurora was in late 1891. By this time, passengers in Aurora and Elgin were served by steam engines. Elgin was served by the Milwaukee Road. Geneva and West Chicago served by the North Western Railway. St. Charles served by The Great Western.
And, Aurora was served by the Chicago and Quincy. However, it was thought that an electric line would facilitate interurban travel, as there would be no freight trains to slow passenger trains. A group of investors founded the Aurora Interurban Railway with a $1 million investment. However, the railroad was unable to secure additional funds. A second attempt came two years with the Chicago, Elgin & Aurora Electric Railway. Plans called for the railroad to run through Turner and Glen Ellyn. Like its predecessor, the railroad failed to acquire the necessary funds for construction, yet another group incorporated the DuPage Interurban Electric Railway in 1897, but was met with a similar fate. Small electric lines opened in the 1890s. A profitable streetcar railway stretched from Aurora north to Carpentersville; the success of this railway inspired investors to again attempt an electric connection to Chicago. A group led by F. Mahler, E. W. Moore, Henry A. Everett, Edward Dickinson, Elmer Barrett formed independent railway lines that were projected to stretch from Aurora and Elgin to Chicago.
These two companies were incorporated on February 24, 1899. The Everett-Moore group was Ohio's largest interurban railroad company and had experience administrating several lines around Cleveland, most notably the Lake Shore Electric Railway; these two companies, the Aurora, Wheaton & Chicago Railway and Elgin & Chicago Railway, were incorporated on February 24, 1899. Only one day after their founding, a second group of Cleveland-based investors, led by the Pomeroy-Mandelbaum group, incorporated the Aurora, Wheaton, & Chicago Railroad Company. Pomeroy-Mandelbaum was the second largest interurban railway company in Ohio and intended to compete against the Everett-Moore group. A meeting between the Everett-Moore syndicate and Pomeroy-Mandelbaum group occurred in either 1900 or 1901 to discuss the future of the two companies, they came to an agreement: Everett-Moore would build and maintain the railways connecting Aurora to Chicago while the Pomeroy-Mandelbaum group would control railways linking cities in the Fox River Valley.
A third railway, the Batavia & Eastern Railway Company, was incorporated by the Everett-Moore group in 1901 to link the town of Batavia to the Aurora line. On March 12, 1901, all of the incorporated Everett-Moore companies were merged into one, renamed the Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway Company. Three million dollars' worth of bonds were issued in 1901 to support track construction. Construction commenced on September 1900, when the AE&C started to grade its right-of-way; the AE&C received permission to cross existing track lines in February 1902, alleviating one of the largest obstacles in the railway's construction. Construction escalated following the winter months; that month, the railway connected to the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad at 52nd Avenue in Chicago. The company operated steam locomotives on completed portions to deliver construction goods to where they were needed. Wheaton was selected as the site of the railroad's headquarters, car barn, machine shop. $1.5 million in preferred stock was issued in April 1902 to cover unexpected costs.
AE&C purchased a 28-acre lot south of Batavia and constructed a power station to provide electricity. Commercial electric power was not yet available at the time, so the railroad needed to provide its own power for the third rail. Steam boilers were fed with coal provided by the Burlington & Quincy Railroad. On April 11, 1902, they signed a contract with General Electric to provide electrical generators and converters for the powerhouse; the line completed a network of utility poles through the right-of-way, allowing communication and power exchange between electrical substations along the track in Aurora and Lombard. A fifth station was built southeast of Wayne for the Elgin branch; the substations converted the alternating current in the power lines to a lower-voltage direct current for use in the third rail. After its completion, the power station provided power for at least three small trolley lines and several Fox Valley communities; the Cleveland Construction Company was hired to build the line.
All three rails were traditional "T" design rails laid on stone ballast. Wooden railroad ties were separated at standard gauge; every fifth tie was 9 f
The Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois, is a public garden and outdoor museum with a library and program in tree research including the Center for Tree Science. Its grounds, covering 1,700 acres, include cataloged collections of trees and other living plants and restored areas, among, a restored tallgrass prairie; the living collections include more than 4,100 different plant species. There are more than 200,000 cataloged plants; as a place of recreation, the Arboretum has hiking trails, roadways for driving and bicycling, a 4-acre interactive children's garden and a 1-acre maze. The Schulenberg Prairie at the arboretum was one of the earliest prairie restoration projects in the Midwest, begun in 1962, it is one of the largest restored prairies in the Chicago suburban area. The arboretum offers an extensive nature-centered education program for children, school groups and adults, including tree and restoration professionals; the Woodland Stewardship Program offers classroom and online courses in ecological restoration techniques.
The arboretum offers credit courses through the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, a regional consortium. The stated mission of The Morton Arboretum is to collect and study trees and other plants from around the world, to display them across beautiful landscapes for people to study and enjoy, to learn how to grow them in ways that enhance the environment, its stated goal is to encourage the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener and more beautiful world. The arboretum was established on December 14, 1922, by Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company, he died in 1934. Mortons daughter, Jean Cudahy took his seat on the Board of Trustees; the arboretum's first superintendent was Clarence E. Godshalk, who had received a master's degree in landscape design from the University of Michigan in 1921. Joy Morton's Thornhill Estate, established in 1910, formed the core of the Arboretum's original area. In 1940, Mrs. Cudahy hired May Theilgaard Watts as a teacher in the new educational program.
The Morton family requested an educational center be constructed on the site of their home. The estate was razed in the early 1940's following the death of Margaret Morton, wife of Joy. 1962 marked the beginning of the Schulenberg Prairie Restoration Project. Clarence Godshalk developed plans to create a buffer on the western border of the Arboretum, he called it "a native planting" and planned for it to be on farmland acquired by the Arboretum in the late 50s. He wanted to turn old farmland back into a prairie with seeds collected from prairies nearby, he asked Ray Schulenberg to take this on. Schulenberg developed restoration goals and began replicating composition and local gene pools of plants in local prairies, he studied all of this with Floyd Swink, the arboretum's taxonomist at the time, Robert Betz, a biologist, David Kropp, a landscape architect. Mr. Morton's father Julius; the first chairman of the board of trustees for the Morton Arboretum was Joy Morton himself. Following his death in 1934, his daughter, Mrs. Jean M. Cudahy, became chairman of the board.
Jean died in 1953 and her brother, became chairman of the board. When Sterling died in 1961, his daughter Suzette Morton Davidson took over his place as chairman of the board. In 1977, Suzette Morton retired and was replaced by the first person outside of the Morton family to be chairman of the board, Charles C. Hafner III. In 2000, W. Robert Reum took over as Chairman of the Board; as of 2014, Darrel B Jackson has been chairman of the board of trustees. In 1938, Clarence Godshalk was named Director of the Morton Arboretum, he served for 28 years, before he retired in 1966. He was replaced by Dr. Marion Trufant Hall, who served as Director until 1990, when Gerard T Donnelly was named Executive Director and CEO. Designed by noted Chicago architect Harry Weese, the Sterling Morton Library was constructed in 1963 and named after Sterling Morton, son of founder Joy Morton, it holds more than 30,000 books and magazines, as well as tens of thousands of non-book items including prints, original art, photographs, landscape plans and drawings.
The collections focus on plant sciences on trees and shrubs. Its catalog is online; the Library's Suzette Morton Davidson Special Collections includes books, historic nursery catalogs, landscape drawings, letters and institutional documents. It includes documents of May Theilgaard Watts, Jens Jensen, Marshall Johnson, O. C. Simonds and Donald Culross Peattie; the Sterling Morton Library is a member of the Council on Horticultural Libraries. The 36,000 sq ft Visitor Center was designed by David Woodhouse Architects; the building includes wood representing the Arboretum’s collections and incorporates sustainable features such as permeable pavers in the parking lots and local fieldstone salvaged from a predecessor building. Chicago Botanic Garden List of botanical gardens in the United States List of Museums and Cultural Institutions in Chicago North American Plant Collections Consortium Morton Arboretum website The Morton Arboretum at Google Cultural Institute David Woodhouse Architects Images of Visitor Center Illinois Great Places
Cook County, Illinois
Cook County is a county in the U. S. state of Illinois. It is the second-most populous county in the United States after California; as of 2017, the population was 5,211,263. Its county seat is Chicago, the largest city in Illinois and the third-most populous city in the United States. More than 40% of all residents of Illinois live in Cook County. Cook County's population is larger than that of 28 individual U. S. states, the combined populations of the seven smallest states. There are 135 incorporated municipalities or wholly within Cook County, the largest of, Chicago, home to 54% of the population of the county; that part of the county which lies outside the Chicago city limits is divided into 29 townships. Geographically, the county is the sixth-largest in Illinois by land area, it shares the state's Lake Michigan shoreline with Lake County. Including its lake area, the county has a total area of 1,635 square miles, the largest county in Illinois, of which 945 square miles is land and 690 square miles is water.
Land-use in Cook County is urban and densely populated. Cook County is included in the Chicago–Naperville–Elgin, IL–IN–WI Metropolitan Statistical Area, it is surrounded by. Cook County was created on January 15, 1831, out of Putnam County by an act of the Illinois General Assembly, it was the 54th county established in Illinois and was named after Daniel Cook, one of the earliest and youngest statesmen in Illinois history. He served as the second U. S. Representative from Illinois and the state's first Attorney General. In 1839, DuPage County was carved out of Cook County; the government of Cook County is composed of the Board of Commissioners, other elected officials such as the Sheriff, State's Attorney, Board of Review, Assessor, Circuit Court judges, Circuit Court Clerk, as well as numerous other officers and entities. Cook County is the only home rule county in Illinois; the Cook County Code is the codification of Cook County's local ordinances. Cook County's current County Board president is Toni Preckwinkle.
The Circuit Court of Cook County, an Illinois state court of general jurisdiction is funded, in part, by Cook County, accepts more than 1.2 million cases each year for filing. The Cook County Department of Corrections known as the Cook County Jail, is the largest single-site jail in the nation; the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, under the authority of the Chief Judge of the court, is the first juvenile center in the nation and one of the largest in the nation. The Cook County Law Library is the second-largest county law library in the nation. In the 1980s, Cook County was ground zero to an extensive FBI investigation called Operation Greylord. Ninety-two officials were indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, 8 policemen, 10 deputy sheriffs, 8 court officials, a state legislator; the Bureau of Health Services administers the county's public health services and is the third-largest public health system in the nation. Three hospitals are part of this system: Jr.. Hospital of Cook County, Provident Hospital, Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County, along with over 30 clinics.
The Cook County Department of Transportation is responsible for the design and maintenance of roadways in the county. These thoroughfares are composed of major and minor arterials, with a few local roads. Although the County Department of Transportation was instrumental in designing many of the expressways in the county, today they are under the jurisdiction of the state; the Cook County Forest Preserves, organized in 1915, is a separate, independent taxing body, but the Cook County Board of Commissioners acts as its Board of Commissioners. The district is a belt of 69,000 acres of forest reservations surrounding the city of Chicago; the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden are located in the forest preserves. Cook County is the fifth-largest employer in Chicago. In March 2008, the County Board increased the sales tax by one percent to 1.75 percent. This followed a quarter-cent increase in mass transit taxes. In Chicago, the rate increased to 10.25 percent, the steepest nominal rate of any major metropolitan area in America.
In Evanston, sales tax reached Oak Lawn residents pay 9.5 percent. On July 22, 2008, the Cook County board voted against Cook County Commissioner's proposal to repeal the tax increase. In 2016, Cook County joined Chicago in adopting a $13 hourly minimum wage. Cook County Board chairman John Daley called the wage hike "the moral and right thing to do." In June 2017, nearly 75 home rule municipalities passed measures opting themselves out of the increase. The county has more Democratic Party members than any other Illinois county and it is one of the most Democratic counties in the United States. Since 1932, the majority of its voters have only supported a Republican candidate in a Presidential election three times, all during national Republican landslides–Dwight Eisenhower over native son Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, Richard Nixon over George McGovern in 1972. Since the closest a Republican has come to carrying the county was in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won 48.4 percent of the county's vote.
The 1970 Illinois Constitution allows the party controlling the state legislature to redraw voting districts. The Democrats won complete control of state government in 2003. S. House of Repre