Good morning, my friends. We're spending our last morning in Illinois, as I'm writing this. We had beautiful weather to explore Starved Rock State Park yesterday, and my pictures have all uploaded. It's always a pleasure to get that accomplished in these slow connectivity areas. So let's just get right to it, shall we?
Our State Parks tour book suggested we start at the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center. It was about one driveway over from the entrance to the state park.
There, we could get a look at the Starved Rock Lock & Dam. We walked around the building to the back. Looking east, we could see one side of the lock.
The park derives its name from a Native American legend. In the 1760s, Chief Pontiac of the Ottawa tribe, was attending a tribal council meeting. At this council of the Illinois and the Pottawatomie, an Illinois-Peoria brave stabbed Chief Pontiac. Vengeance arose in Pontiac’s followers. A great battle started. The Illinois, fearing death, took refuge on the great rock. After many days, the remaining Illinois died of starvation giving this historic park its name – Starved Rock.
But getting back to the Illinois Waterway, we went inside the visitor center to see what else might be of interesting. There, we saw this:
Here's how the boat looked in its heyday.
There was also information about one of the islands in the river.
It's too late in the year to be seeing eagles, but I took these pictures of photographs hanging inside the visitor center. They were behind glass, so try to ignore the reflections.
From there, we headed over to the visitor center for Starved Rock State Park. I picked up my refrigerator magnet and shot glass (yay!) and then we looked at some of the exhibits. There was an intersting diorama showing how Fort St. Louis might have looked.
There was an explanatory sign showing the areas of French exploration. It was a little hard to read, and so I've broken it into three sections to make it larger. Here's the map showing their settlement.
Heading outside, there were some blooming things.
And a little information about the area and its industry and agriculture.
From there, we set off on our hike. We stopped off first to see the dam from the opposite side of the river.
Here was some information about the purpose of the lock and dam.
Looking across the river we saw a flock of white pelicans.
It was hard to tell from a distance what kind of birds they were, but zooming in, they are clearly pelicans.
Looking across, we could see Plum Island, designated as a bird sanctuary.
The birds in the next image were on the island. They appear to be Canada geese, but I was able to see one with my camera that had a bill like an ibis.
Here's another shot, zoomed in a little.
We were walking on nice boardwalks.
Remember the blazes on the trails we've been walking? Well, no cheap-o paint here...they used reflectors to blaze the trails.
As we walked along, we could hear rustling in the leaves to the sides of the trails. They were shy squirrels...clearly not wanting their pictures posted on the internet. I did catch this one, however.
The boardwalks took us over the top of Starved Rock.
Like Indiana Dunes, this trail gave us the same view from different points along the river. Our first overlook was "Lover's Leap." There were some love locks on the fence there, and indeed, all along the way.
From there, we got a different view of the dam.
The second overlook was the Eagle's Cliff Overlook.
And from there, we were above the dam.
Here's a view looking up the Illinois River. It's a big river.
The pelicans had a prime fishing spot.
As we stood there, we heard a beep from the lock on the other side. It looked as if some boats were going to pass through.
I managed to post a video this morning. You can see the boats moving into the lock. (If you can't see the video, click on the title to this post to be taken to the actual blog.)
In this next image, they paused there while the gates were adjusted to lower the water level.
In this next image, I've placed small red dots showing where the boats are as they were lowered in the lock to the next level of the river.
We could have hiked farther, but we decided we'd seen what we came to see. We were curious about this low clearance bridge, however, and so we drove back to the campground that way. Yep...there's the offending bridge. Glad we didn't come this way. We like our air-conditioners.
When we got back to the RV, we got Smitty out for another short walk.
Sadie enjoyed the walk from her sunny spot on the catio.
Later, they enjoyed the setting sun from the comfort of their window hammocks. They don't usually share this space, and so it's a rare treat to see them together like this.