"Land of many lakes."
|Here's a 1960's W-M-T postcard found at www.illinoisancestors.org/fulton submitted by Janine Crandell. Libby Truax, daughter of
developer Glenn Truax, is in the foreground. According to Tom Moore, pictured at the right, others in the picture are Margie Truax, Glenn
Truax, Fran Moore, and Judd Henninger, The postcard was part of a promotional package put together by a Chicago PR firm for
Henninger, who was a real estate agent involved in selling the lots.
Here's What We Have So Far...
Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills is located on land once mined by the Truax-Traer Coal Company, now a division of Consolidation Coal Company, which
operated in Minnesota and Saskatchewan as well as several Illinois counties. Company head Harold Truax apparently selected Fulton
County as his home, and it was his son Glenn's land that became the Wee-Ma-Tuk Country Club in 1956. The Truaxes and company
official Gene Long spearheaded the development.
Over the next decade, Putt Creek was dammed to create Lake Wee-Ma-Tuk, with the necessary excavating and clearing done by off-duty
Truax-Traer miners. The numerous small lakes, once strip mines, filled in with rainfall. The land around the lakes was divided into lots.
Wee-Ma-Tuk translates to Land of many lakes. Glenn Truax's wife Margie named the streets after Native American tribes and literary
references. (Pau-Pau-Keewis, a rendering of The Song of Hiawatha's Pau-Puk-Keewis, graces a street on the south shore of the big lake.)
Other street names not spelled in the familiar way include Schochonie, Washaki, and Pokihantus, which are alternative spellings of
Shoshone, Washakie, and Pocahantas. Native American languages, we are reminded, had no written component until European settlers
set the names to paper phonetically, and an anthropology major once told this writer that Pokihantus is "correct."
By the 1960s, lots were being sold, homes were being built, and people were moving in. Some put up fishing cabins; others built
Tom Moore describes the country club:
The original club house was spectacular and over looked the swimming beach below the hill. Its bar, dining room and club areas were solid
walnut and granite. The club hosted several big bands and parties and had a Fourth-of-July celebration every year with fireworks and a
barbecue of roast pig. . Wee-Ma-Tuk golf tournaments were outstanding, with excellent men's and women's tournament play. My Mother was
club champ on several occasions and was a great lady golfer, (Fran Moore)
Gene Rand contributes the following:
I worked at the golf course after high school,weekends,and summers during 1956-57.The original developers were Harold Truax,Glenn Truax,
and Gene Long. The original nine golf holes were built in 1956 on one of Glenn Truax's hay fields.The land was a fault--it contained no
coal--and was never mined by the coal company. Johnny Rusnak from Canton helped design the nine holes and was the club's first golf pro. I
Peggy Worries from Peoria was a waitress. One of the first homes was built by Charlie Cummings from Peoria and is located on the north side
of the hill east of the original clubhouse. Another early home was built by Jack Pletz from Peoria and is located behind #17 green. Also one of
the early homes was built by Don Sutton (Sutton and Moore Lumber Company of Canton) and is located on the east side of the hill behind #16
green. My wife and I had our wedding reception there in April of 1963.
(Thanks to Tom Moore, Gene Rand, and Janet McCaughey for their contributions.)
|Most of you have been here longer than I have. Please help me
continue this history of the creation and settlement of
Wee-Ma-Tuk. If you know more of the region's history, please
share it with all of us.
Janet McCaughey has sent me a storehouse of documents, maps,
and newspaper clippings. I'll be making them available over the
next few weeks. The first installment is at the bottom of this page.
or mail to
PO Box 211
Cuba, IL 61427
Janice Stevenor Dale writes:
I lived in WMT from 1964-1978; my parents built our house on Cheyenne drive, #15 green in 1964 (beside the Suttons) and later moved
to Arizona in 1983. I am happy to share any memories you are trying to put together.
WMT used to mean "land of many lakes and hills" with the hills created by the "gob" piles left from coal mining. I would find Indian
arrowheads in the grassy meadows behind my house.
Within the WMT clubhouse, upon entering, you would have passed a number of key WMT founding fathers. I knew Jack Pletz and his
wife, and they also had a home high on a hill above a lake, not on #17 green. We would visit when his dog had puppies, and he and
his gracious wife would serve german chocolate cake. Jack Pletz was a golfing partner of my father's. My father was Gerald
Stevenor, who worked in management at International Harvester for 40 years.
I have an oil painting that my award-winning grandfather painted of the original clubhouse with its many cascading wooden staircases
descending down to the swimming "hole" with its central fountain. Let me know if there is a place of honor for this painting; I
envisioned that it might be part of the "new" clubhouse when it reopens. I'll try to send you a digital picture for the website. (See
Say hi to Mr. Coleman for me, he was my beloved math teacher. Tell him that Dashiell is doing algebra now at age 11 with a math
olympiad this Friday.
Let me know what I can do to help rekindle the WMT spirit.
Janice Stevenor Dale, FIIDA, CID, LEED
J S D A Inc.
Oil painting by
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
|The pages below are a brochure about
Wee-Ma-Tuk from the 1950s. Thanks to John
Loebach for supplying this historic document. Click
to enlarge thumbnail; click again to zoom in.
Two interesting facts stand out:
1)The brochure promises over 100 lakes.
2)The configuration of the bodies of water shown don't really match a current aerial view. (Use Map link on HOME PAGE.)
Did some restructuring take place? When?
|Below are the pages from an article in a 1959 issue of Caterpillar Magazine, chronicling WMT's
construction. Thanks to Max Latimer, Larry Ford, and Larry Krulac for this historic find!
Below are the pages of a brochure supplied by John and Jan Hardy. Click to
enlarge. Another click zooms it in.
The McCaughey Documents:
A 1971 document lists the acreage, stocked fish, and maximum depths of the lakes. The fish information has been deleted as outdated: much stocking has
occurred since. The document is available as a .pdf file here.
I have no links to provide for maps of Channel Cat, Hank's, Old Man's, Schroeder, Sutton, and Truax 2. I've located them on an old plat of WMT, and linked
them to a photo of the plat. This is work-in-progress.
Truax Rd. Is gated. Wee-Ma-Tuk Rd. dead-ends.
Current maps show the road dead-ending--or just vanishing.
The plat shows Wee-Ma-Tuk Rd. meeting Truax Rd. I've drawn a
Did this road cease to exist, or become private? When? Email me
if you know the facts.
I constructed this from a Google map by finding the lakes on the old
"Associated Engineers" plat and adding their names over the lakes.
If I can figure out a way to photograph the plat, I'll put it up--but it's four feet by
Note: Several sources identify Truax #1 as Wee-Ma-Tuk South.
Google and cLocations refer to Sutton Lake as Fisher Lake.
The lake next to WMTCC's #9 tee is as yet unidentified. I'm working on it.
Now I'm matching addresses with the shorelines to compile database of what
lake people are on, or closest to. This could take a while.
Update: Janice Stevenor Dale, a Los Angeles architect and designer who grew
up in WMT (see above), has sent me a .pdf of the old Associated Engineers
map., from which I sketched Hank's Lake, and split Channel Cat from McCann.
You can download her file here. Note that WMT Road DOES connect with Truax
|Click to enlarge.
Map updated 10/24/08
Paul Harvey Visited WMT...and He Told America All About It!
On February 19, 1963, ABC news commentator Paul Harvey came to Fulton
County for a speaking engagement. After a Wee-Ma-Tuk tour, Harvey was so
impressed that he broadcast his impressions the next day:
"Backward over my shoulder, delightful visit to Canton, Illinois. Absolutely delightful, A mostly content
community built around a story-book town square and nourished mostly by farmers, farm equipment
industries, and one other thing -- strip mining.
Now, wait a moment. I know it sounds awful. Strip mining is in most respects the most economical way to
get coal out of the ground -- just scrape off the topsoil and denude the deposit and help yourself -- but what
a mess it makes of the landscape.
I've flown over some of our country's strip mines -- once fertile farm land, which had been ravaged by
giant machines, and dumped in ugly endless wind-rows of slate and weeds with deep gullies and stagnant
ponds. Looking down upon that upheaval of the earth's insides, you imagine hell is probably going to look
something like that.
Down in the midst of it, however, when your livelihood is largely dependent upon the black gold gouged
from the ground, you tolerate the unsightly wasteland until eventually you don't even see it it anymore.
But Fulton County, Illinois, does things differently than most. One hundred and ninety miles southwest is
close enough to Chicago to be cosmopolitan, yet far enough to be comfortably provincial.
To give you an idea of the independence which prevails in Fulton County: Traditionally, it is a Republican
county, and yet when Lincoln ran as a Republican, he carried his state of Illinois overwhelmingly, except
Fulton County. They voted against him both times.
Back in 1920, thereabouts, Mr. Harold Truax founded the Truax Coal Co. and began turning things upside
down. His open strip mines prospered the area, but with the usual results -- cluttering the horizons with
mountains of sub-soil hurled into grotesque, grey heaps.
But Mr. Truax felt a deep obligation to the good earth which had yielded, however unwillingly, to violation
by his mighty machines, and he undertook a project of his own, now. This was before there were any state
statutes requiring rehabilitation of such areas. Mr. Truax, when the coal was gone from the area, moved his
machines back in and began to level the spoil banks and landscape the overburden, and erase the scars;
but more than this, he made of the eyesore an asset.
He has already rehabilitated 3,600 acres, and that park-like place he calls Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills. I think that
means 'lake in the hills' to an Indian, for the area has one huge lake and is studded by 40 smaller ones.
And a golf course, and a red-carpet clubhouse where 400 can dine in one room. Homes have been built in
the area. The grounds abound with wildlife, and there's an area for controlled hunting of quail and duck.
The lakes are stocked with fish and kept stocked.
But Wee-Ma-Tuk Hills is the gesture of a grateful industrialist to the good earth from whence cometh his
strength and to his personal persuasion will lead the rest of the world by example: That being a good
neighbor has to begin at the beginning."
Visit to WMT:
Al Coleman has given me three boxes of
documents and slides acquired from past
president Rick Birkey. There are hundreds of
slides to be scanned. I'm working on it; some
Lake Louise, 1962
Tree in Lake, 1962
WMTCC Pool. 1960s
Lake Stevens, 1960s
|Al and Daryle Coleman's house, 1960s
|Here are the first scans of the slides given to us by
Janet McCaughey. See Chris's Column #20 (News
Page) for full story.
|The Goodyear Blimp over WMT, for some
In the 1970s, landowners' names graced
utility poles near the appropriate
intersections. The Steins were on
Hiawatha Point. There used to be a
Hesh-Strong sign on this pole as well.
Are there any more of these around? mail
If you see one that's flipped, email me! (Thanks to
Kevin Reavis for catching the one above.