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This late-Pleistocene forest of spruce and deciduous trees is unusual in that a forest of similar composition does not occur anywhere today.The implication is that the climate was unlike any climate in North America today.After the Wisconsin glacier retreated from the Chicago region, it still occupied and dammed the northern end of the Lake Michigan basin, forming glacial Lake Chicago.This lake, which covered most of present-day Chicago, was higher than modern Lake Michigan.[By analyzing pollen and fossilized vegetation in this ancient Ice Age lakebed scientists have determined that at the closing of the last Ice Age, the southwestern Chicago region and the northern half of Illinois was like no other place on earth: covered the landscape.

By the end of this Mini-Ice Age 11,700 years ago, the climate warmed. After the floods, gravity continued its work on the riverstones, again using water as a tool, albeit in less dramatic fashion: Since glaciers follow the course of rivers, the exposed rocks were washed down and further polished by flowing water.This spruce forest lasted for about 1,000 years, until about 15,000 years ago, when climate warmed and deciduous trees became more abundant, including balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), black ash (Fraxinus nigra), and ironwood (Ostrya virginiana or Carpinus caroliniana).Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) also was present, as was spruce, although not as abundantly as before.This combined with ash and soot in the atmosphere, plunged the Northern Hemisphere into a Mini-Ice Age for another 1,200 years.About 13,000 years ago climate apparently cooled again, and spruce became more abundant and black ash less common.