FIVE FAVES ENCORE
Markin Glen Park 5300 N. Westnedge Ave. Kalamazoo Markin Glen is one of the county’s most popular parks. The land on which it’s located, in Cooper Township, was formerly the estate of Morris Markin, founder of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp., which produced its iconic automobiles from 1923 to 1982. In 1970, after Markin’s death, the city of Kalamazoo purchased 16 acres for Maple Glen Park, which closed in 1977. Eleven years later the county purchased the park for $1. The newly created Parks Foundation raised funds to open the west side of the park in 1994 and the east side six years later. The 168–acre park has campsites, playgrounds, picnic shelters, a swimming beach, fishing, softball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, and hiking and biking trails. In 1997 the park was renamed Markin Glen Park.
Prairie View Park 899 E. U Ave., Vicksburg The county’s interest in acquiring this land, which is part of the Gourdneck State Game Area, began in the 1950s. As a result of a land swap, the county acquired the original acreage in 1960 for $56,000 and opened the park two years later. Its name pays tribute to the land’s prairies, a major attraction for residents who came here in the early 19th century. With 210 acres located on both Gourdneck and Hogsett lakes, the park has picnic areas, playgrounds, soccer fields, hiking trails, a beach and a boat ramp. A very popular 7–acre dog park, with separate areas for pooches of different sizes, was added in 2010. 12 | ENCORE AUGUST 2021
River Oaks Park 9202 E. Michigan Ave. (M–96) Galesburg This 330–acre park has a fascinating history. The Alphadelphia Association, a socialist and utopian organization that attracted a large membership, called this land home in the early 1840s. After the group disbanded, the county purchased the site in 1846 for the Kalamazoo Poor Farm, which existed for many years. It later became the County Rest Home, primarily for senior citizens, and closed in 1971. The location opened as a park in 1974 and is named for the oak trees that can be found along Morrow Lake. Today its amenities include picnic shelters, hiking trails, a boat launch, a splash pad, a dog park, ball diamonds and volleyball courts. In addition, its 22 soccer fields help make it one of the area's more popular parks.