Michigan Beach Update

Ok… So I think I found the elusive “Michigan Beach” in Joliet.

I googled “Michigan Beach” Joliet and stumbled upon this topo map from the USGS.

map_get

The dual horizontal red line is I-80.  I’m pretty sure the vertical red line is Richards Street.  Now if Michigan Beach is “lake 565” there in the middle, some others from the Joliet area might remember it as the Joliet Beach Club.  I used to go there all the time when I was a kid.  They eventually had to close it due to some really nasty virus that infested the water.  You can still see this gem from I-80 if you’re heading west.  Hop on at Briggs and stay in the right lane.  When you start driving on the elevated highway, look off you your right.  The beach house/concession stand is still there and the “beach” is completely overgrown with weeds, but it’s still there. 

Looks like Uncle Leroy is gonna lose some business…

Here’s an aerial link from Google Maps

14 comments

  1. Area Real Estate Appraiser

    I was doing an appraisal south of 80 a couple years ago, on a gloomy day(Or most of Joliet or that area of is gloomy everyday) and drove by that body of water on Rowell Avenue, seen what looked to be a concession stand as you stated. I though to my self what the hell is this place surrounded by industrial crap as it looked to be some sort of recreational facility and my Microsoft Map program shows it at Michigan Beach. At the time I tried doing to bunch of internet searches and came up with nothing. I came across it again and was interested again, and I found some history about how they brought tons of car loads of sand they in the early 1900’s. When did it close? Just amazaing how it was left as is almost…….that Joliet for yah I guess……

  2. Erik

    I’m 30 now and the last time I went was in grade school, so I’d say it closed around 20 years ago. I used to have a blast there.

  3. Sean Keck

    The property is is owned by and The Beach was run by the Keck family. We closed it down due to my mother dying and it had nothing to do with a nasty virus.
    Sean Keck

    • Erik

      Thanks for that update, Sean.

      I was pretty young when it did close and remember employees putting chlorine in the water during break time, and warnings about not swallowing the water, so I just figured it was due to that.

      Sorry to hear of your mothers passing back then. I’m sure she’d be happy to know that a lot of people had a great time there.

      • Mary Jay

        The chlorine and warnings about swallowing the water were due to shigellosis outbreaks caused by fecal contamination. Insufficient water treatment after decades of operation resulted in several cases of mild to severe diarrhea, coincidently occurring near the time the Joliet Beach Club was closed.

        I vividly remember visiting the Joliet Beach Club with friends and family at a young age, even taking swim lessons over a few summers. Packing a picnic basket and spending the day was a common occurrence. The ultimate challenge was to swim out to the two rafts in the middle of the lake, while being mindful not to brush against the fiberglass ropes with the floats, lest you find splinters in your skin. Only the bravest and most capable divers could swim down to the bottom of the lake to touch the abandoned quarry equipment which resided there. Despite illness, many fond memories were had at the Joliet Beach Club. I estimate the establishment closed in approximately 1988 or 1989.

    • Paul Lair

      Sean,
      I grew up in the area and spent most of my summer says at Michigan beach (the top) I now live in Channahon and was wondering if any dive clubs dive the site or how I may be able to dive the site as that body of water sparked my interest in diving.

      Paul Lair

      • Melody Bishop-Hochevar

        Hi, I’m Melody Bishop. I grew up spending every Summer at The Joliet Beach Club from age 6 or 1953 until after my Children were born. My Dad was. Lifeguard there in the 1930’s, me in the 1960’s, anf finally my own daughter was a guard there in the 1980’s. I was a good swimmer, diver, ect. My Dad grew up with Norm Keck & I grew up with Cindy Keck (same graduating class, 1965- JTHS Central). Did yoy know Tom Keck, Don Kienlen (whose dad was Manager) &, or, Gary Pierce, another Guard a year older than me?

    • Andre

      Hi there Sean. Who was your Mother? We lived across the street from Norm, right around the corner. I spent my childhood there. We moved from the area in 1979. It was such a fun place to go and everyone was so great. Miss those days. 😦

  4. Robert A. Draznik

    I’m 84 now and spent a good part of my childhood swimming in Michigan Beach. In the very early days we would change into our swimming trunks in upturned concrete caskets across the street at Ideal Wilbert Burial Vault Co. My introduction to the Beach was watching my Dad swim completely around it from a point on the west side just south of the sandy beach area. Kitty corner was one of the Joliet Garbage dumps. Back then there was a steel cable supported by X placed logs to mark off where the “deep water” began. Just beyond that was the diving platform and out in the middle was a raft. A favorite dare was to swim underwater among the wooden pilings that supported the diving platform. The rumored danger was getting your trunks snagged on a nail and drowning. There was never any real health problem at Michigan Beach despite newspaper rumors which were placed, we said, to get everyone to go to Nowell Park. On the South side was “Bare Ass Beach” where swimmers swam naked. Lots of fond memories there. Bob

    • Erik R

      Bob – Fantastic! Thanks or the history and memories. It’s always great to hear how multiple generations enjoyed the same facilities.

      Erik

  5. Karma

    I have never swam in it myself, but I would like to. I wish this beach would reopen. I see its for sale, it seems like it would be a great business opportunity.

  6. John

    My brother, Jim, & I served as lifeguards I the 60’s. Coach Don (Pa) Kinlien was the manager. He was a wonderful boss & I remember the times fondly.

    • Bob Draznik

      Don Kienlin(sp?) was a Track Team Coach at JTHS in the ’40s. I ran on the Team. He was also an avid handball player and years later had a business on Rt.59 south of Plainfield. I believe he retired to Florida.

  7. Ingalls Park-er

    Thought you might like this post found on the Joliet Rotary web site about the purchase of the quarry for a beach club in 1915.

    “1915 – Rotary wanted to turn a quarry on Rowell Avenue into a safe place to swim. Art Montzheimer, Chief Engineer of the E.J. & E., chaired the Michigan Beach Committee. A land lease was secured and a minstrel show was put on for three nights at the high school to raise money to construct a beach and build a bath house. As a result, thirty carloads of Lake Michigan sand were added to the quarry to make the beach. – See more at: http://jolietrotary.com/SitePage/club-history

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