Conrad Station Savanna
Conrad Station Savanna Conrad Station Savanna © Christopher Jordan

Places We Protect

Conrad Station Savanna


Remnant foundations from the abandoned town of Conrad can be found at this black oak sand savanna.

Why You Should Visit

Dedicated as a State Nature Preserve in 1992 and again in 2013, Conrad Station Savanna is a large, high-quality black oak sand savanna in Newton County.  Conrad Station is east of U.S. 41 and is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. Conrad Savanna, another black oak sand savanna, is west of U.S. 41 and is owned and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of Nature Preserves. Oak savanna is the predominant plant community on these dry sands, with black and white oaks being the most common trees, but interestingly the prickly pear cactus also finds a home here.  Remnant foundations from the abandoned town of Conrad, including a blacksmith shop, church, and school, still exist on the preserve. Conrad Station Savanna has an amazing history.

What The Nature Conservancy has Done/is Doing

For the past several years, volunteer stewardship workdays have focused on restoring the savanna, both by the physical removal of woody plant species and the re-introduction of prescribed fires to maintain this community. The Conservancy's goals also include working with the Department of Nature Preserves to simulate pre-settlement conditions in the restoration of the areas south of the preserve and to establish the site as a premier Black Oak Barrens preserve.

Conrad Station Savanna is owned and managed by both The Nature Conservancy and the Indiana DNR's Division of Nature Preserves. Work done at this preserve is in partnership with Cedar Lake Fish & Game Club, Indiana Heritage Trust, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Waterfowl USA, Wild Turkey Federation, and North America Wetlands Conservation Act.

What to See: Plants and Animals

Conrad Station Preserve contains broad flat areas alternating with rolling sand dunes. Although the dunes were opened and sculpted by the wind after the last glaciation, today they are covered by trees, grasses, and sedges.

Typical sand savanna plants that dominate the scene here include Junegrass, Pennsylvania sedge, porcupine grass, little bluestem, Indian grass, and big bluestem. Other more showy savanna plants include hairy puccoon, cleft phlox, New Jersey tea, and sand milkweed. Prickly pear cactus thrives on a few small open rises. Red-head woodpeckers, turkey, and quail are often spotted on the preserve. Birdwatching at Kankakee Sands can be a wonderful experience, but for everyone’s safety, caution should be exercised at all times. If birding from roadways, please use your flashing lights and pull over to the side of the road. Whether in a car or on foot, birders must not impede traffic.  Glass lizards are common, but rarely observes as they spend most of their lives underground. 

A 1.8-mile loop trail complete with interpretive signs can be found at this preserve. our ongoing restoration of the site is evident on this hike; note the efforts to thin out the canopy with fire and the dramatic response of wildflowers in these open spaces. 

For More Information

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves