A History of the Moon Tract

Written by Jim Glidersleeve, this article will showcase sections of the Moon Tract’s history along with a photo found by Tracy Shepard taken by the Pantagraph’s 1935 airplane, The Scoop (see Figure 1). 

Disclaimer: This article has been edited for brevity. 

Figure 1. A photo of the Moon Tract looking west over the East Bay Camp taken by the Pantagraphs 1935 airplane, The Scoop. 

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     I live directly across the road from the Moon Tract and have for some time. Coincidentally I knew and remembered Dorothy Moon the donor of the parcel to Parklands.

        Dorothy Moon grew up close to Money Creek on the southeast side of Lake Bloomington. Her father Simon was a farmer who farmed some of the land that we now see along Money Creek as we cross the Money Creek bridge. The Simons acquired the Moon tract in the late 1950s (Circa 1957-1958) when the City of Bloomington decided to increase the capacity of the lake by nearly 50%.

        The Moon tract was farmed by Simon and his tenant Warren Baker. When Simon passed away the Bakers continued to farm the property as tenants. 

         The land was farmed until Dorothy’s death in the late 1980s. She donated the north parcel to the Parklands Foundation and the south parcel was bequeathed to her relatives. I knew Dorothy and she always had a flare for nature and preservation. She told me far in advance of her failing health that she had an interest in preserving some of her property and thought that Parklands was a good fit.

          Once Parklands took over ownership of the Moon Tract they actually came to me to see if I could plant some small grasses to convert the farmed portion to a grassland. Parklands provided us with a seed mixture which included oats. The oats germinated quickly and established a cover and a root system thus preventing erosion.  The other grasses which included native grasses established at a slower rate but grew well. The oats when mature were harvested and since oats are an annual the other perennial grasses remained. Later native prairie grass was planted on a portion of the tract.

           I obviously wasn’t around 90 plus years ago when land was acquired for the WPA Lake Bloomington project. This parcel I believe was owned prior to the lake by the same Baker family that were tenants for Ms. Moon. On my lot at Lake Bloomington there was a concrete slab that had been part of a brick barbecue. On it there were metal tacks imbedded in the concrete with the letters L E Baker 1926. About 10 years ago I contacted John Baker the grandson of LE Baker and told him of the concrete slab. Johnny a man now in his late 70s had a keen interest in his family’s history and was able to extract the slab and take it to his residence which now happens to currently be where Dorothy Moon was born and raised just east of the Money Creek bridge.

          Finally and anecdotally, it was rumored that just after the surrounding lots were sold at Lake Bloomington a member of the Bloomington City Commission (Name withheld without verification) (Council) leased the lot I currently lease. The land across the mud road at the time as we now call it the Moon Tract had bi planes landing in the field and I guess it was a festive place. Its a pleasure to write this and if you have questions feel free to ask.

                                                                                                                                                        Jim Gildersleeve

I hope you enjoyed this tid-bit of history on the ParkLands Moon Tract! You can visit the Moon Tract anytime. Its location is linked below.

Directions to ParkLands Moon Preserve Linked Here!