Once known as Ray Lake Farm, Kaye and Edward Ray were the first to acquire land here in 1958 for breeding and raising purebred Black Angus beef cattle. Breeding cattle was a labor of love for the Ray family. They wanted to improve the breed for the public and held annual auctions with breeders flying in from across the nation to enjoy this social gathering and auction.
“After the passing of my father in 1965, the farm operations continued. In 1967, my mother purchased the purebred Angus cattle from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. By 1968, we had 460 head of cattle,” said daughter Raine Ray. “And by 1976, the last of our herd was sold.”
Eventually the family sold off parts of the farm and leased the remaining acreage until 1999 when the Lake County Forest Preserves bought the property.
As a symbol of the land’s former use, the original Ray Lake Farm Black Angus bull statue remains atop a stone tower to greet visitors as they enter the preserve.