William G. Stratton State Park is an 8,300-acre (3,440ha) protected area in Will County, Illinois, United States. The state park was named after William G. Stratton, who founded the nearby town of Tinley Park and played a pivotal role in the development of Oakwoods Cemetery. It preserves portions of Big Woods near the Kankakee River. The campground features 188 campsites divided into tent sites, leantos and RVs. There are modern restrooms facilities with showers, hot water, and sewage disposal. Half of the campsites are available on a first come, first served basis, while the remainder must be reserved. The campground opens on Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend.
Camping costs are $10 per night per vehicle. To help fund a backlog of deferred maintenance and park improvements, the state implemented an entrance fee for this park. The fees, charged per vehicle, start at $8 per day for a single-day or $6 for residents with an Illinois license plate or permit. Fees are waived for honorably discharged veterans and Illinois residents age 62 & older and their spouses. Passes good for three days or a week are also available; annual passes good at all 22 state parks charging fees are offered at a cost of $75 for out-of-state visitors or $60 for Illinois residents.
The land for the park was purchased by the state from Emma Rebman Stratton, widow of William G. Stratton, in 1940. She donated about 1,000 acres to create what would become one of America’s most popular state parks. At that time it was called Camp Logan State Forest. When it became obvious that this name was too military for local tastes, the state renamed the forest in 1945; it took almost exactly 400 more years for the campground to open than it did for the forest to be named. In 1960, when it came time to choose a new superintendent for the state park, the decision was made to promote Fred Johnson to the position. However, he turned them down, preferring to remain at his post as deputy warden at Joliet Prison.
A year later, when asked again, he accepted the appointment, but resigned less than two months into the term to take a job with Northern Illinois Teachers College, now Northern Illinois University. This left Bill Fassett, another member of the prison staff, to serve as acting superintendent until June 30, 1965, when Jerry Carpenter arrived to take over the position on a permanent basis. Under Carpenter, attendance increased, morale improved, and the quality of life for all residents of the park, both inmates and guards, rose sharply. He set up programs designed to rehabilitate prisoners, including work crews that cleared streams and forests, built roads and trails, planted trees, and worked on other public projects.
During his six-year term as superintendent, through 1970, there were only five major incidents requiring use of force, none involving serious injury or death. By any measure, this was a remarkably safe record for such a large facility. After his resignation, the state legislature established the Friends of Stratton State Park, a nonprofit organization which continues to operate the park.