My 2019 Great Lakes Road Trip Part 13B

22 Jan

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday August 4 (Continued)

Continuing today’s activities at the Johnson-Sauk Trails State Park, I discovered Ryan’s Round Barn was built in 1910 and is one of the largest round barns in the country.  The barn is 80+ feet high and 85 feet in diameter, with a full-size 16-foot wide silo inside.  This restored wooden round barn actually consists of a lot more, on the inside, than a person might think (check the plaque below).  Back in the day it is said, religious groups in the area built their barns round because they “left no corners for the devil to hide.”  What a hoot that is!

Now I headed east another 25 miles, on I-80, to visit the Lovejoy Homestead located in Princeton, IL.  This 1835 home, that Owen Lovejoy lived in, was another of the many stations of the “underground railroad” used by fugitive slaves, in their flight north to freedom in Canada.  The Rev. Owen Lovejoy was a local Congregational minister and outspoken abolitionist, who preached anti-slavery from his pulpit, and later on the floor of the United States Congress.  The Lovejoy house is decorated in period furnishings, and visitors can view the secret space, in the attic, where the fugitive slaves were hidden.

Another 20 miles east on I-80 I visited the Westclox Museum located in Peru, IL.  This museum is housed in the original building where Westclox (United Clock Company/Western Clock Company/General Time Corporation) manufacturing began in 1885.  The museum displays all types of clocks, watches, and other time related items from all over the world.   It also tells the historical story of the Westclox business and family adventures.  From the story of this company, it is likely that most everyone in this country has, or will, own a Westclox product at one time or another in their lifetime.

Just a couple miles east of Peru, I was heading to visit the Illinois & Michigan Canal (I & M) dock located in LaSalle, IL when I saw a small train depot off the side of the road.  I stopped to take a photo, and discovered it was the old 1900 Peru-LaSalle Rock Island Railroad passenger depot, which was the original eastern terminus of the Rock Island Line at that time.

Description: Image result for peru-lasalle rock island railroad passenger depot.

Across the railroad tracks I stopped at The Illinois & Michigan (I & M) Canal Boat Passage dock there in La Salle.  The I & M Canal was built to connect the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River.  The 96 mile Illinois portion of the canal was built in 1846, and connected the Chicago River (Chicago) and the Illinois River (La Salle).  The canal used 17 locks to take care of the 140’ water height difference between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River.  Even though the canal improved productivity in central Illinois; traffic on the canal consisted of only slow mule-drawn barges until America’s western advancing railroad system replaced it in 1933.  Today visitors can take a leisurely ride in a restored mule-drawn canal boat on a one- mile portion of what is left of the original I & M Canal.

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Now I headed east some 15 miles on US-6 to visit the Ottawa Scouting Museum located in Ottawa, IL.  This small museum displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of youth scouting (American & English) over the past 100 years.  William D.  Boyce was one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, and he lived in Ottawa and is buried there.  Ottawa was one of the many canal cities that evolved from the introduction of The I & M Canal in the 1800s.  The museum also displays historical items related to the growth of the city of Ottawa. 

Just outside the city of Ottawa I visited the Illinois Waterway Visitors Center located on the Illinois River.  The Illinois Waterway is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is over 300 miles long, and includes portions of the Illinois, Des Plaines, Chicago, and Calumet Rivers.  The Visitors Center is located at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam site, and gives visitors an in-depth view of the Waterway’s history and operations.  Surrounded by the Starved Rock State Park, on both sides of the Illinois River, this area’s beautiful woodlands are a favorite for camping, hiking, and bird watching. 

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Now I ask Greta (my Garmin) to take me to tonight’s motel there in Ottawa.  Once I got checked in and unpacked my necessities, I heated up my leftover Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack delicious St. Louis Ribs, with baked beans and cole slaw from last night, and enjoyed that great meal again.  Too bad I can’t take Jimmy Jack and his famous ribs with me on the rest of this trip.

Description: Image result for jimmy jacks rib shack in iowa city ia

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.




                              One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

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