Starved Rock State Park

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.

Looking west, the other.

If you're unfamiliar with how a lock works, you can read the sign below that explains the whole thing. The water is raised and lowered simply by controlling the flow of water through the gates. 

Looking across, we could get a view of the dam.

Moving our gaze a little to the west, we could see the "rock" of Starved Rock State Park.

A few have asked how the park got its name. This is a quote from the park website

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.

The bees were all over these, and there were some butterflies too.

 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. 

We're moving on to our next destination this morning in Dubuque, Iowa. We have two nights there, and we'll spend one of our days exploring the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. We both love a good aquarium, and I think this might be the first fresh water aquarium we've visited. And with that...it's time for breakfast, and then we'll be on our way.


Barbara said...

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

~ Dixon Lanier Merritt

Darlene S said...

Very interesting park and history. I didn't know that there was a National Mississippi Aquarium. The museum part is not a surprise, but the aquarium is. My narrow lifestyle just thought they had to be located near an ocean. Silly me, as there is water life in all types of waters. I look forward to hearing about your experience when you have time. I know in the past you have shared some insights about planning your road adventures, but I'm wondering when you get back home and settle in if you might share insights about the tools you use to plan, as well as a recap on tips. I'm intrigued with the book you just referenced about State Parks and would like to pick up a copy.

piecefulwendy said...

I hope you enjoy the River museum - we sure did. If you didn't know, those flowers are an aster (the purple) and goldenrod. Good to see the kitties snugged on their hammocks. Wilbs still doesn't like his.

Exuberantcolor/Wanda S Hanson said...

I think those are Canadian Geese with their black necks twisted around so they can tuck their beak under their wing. I don't know why they do that but I have seen that pose before. A lot of geese stay in IL year round, they don't even bother to fly south any more.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

That's certainly an impressive sized lock! It would be a hike just to get from one end to the other.
Fun to see the pelicans - of course we don't have them here and the only ones I've seen have been in the zoo.

Janarama said...

Thanks for the tour at Starved Rock. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Illinois. Waving goodbye to you as you go on to your next destination.

Jenny said...

Locks are such clever pieces of engineering I think, makingbthe water levels do the work. Thanks for the explanation on how Starved Rock got its name.

SJSM said...

Lots of interesting tid-bits in your post. Living on the west coast with steep mountains, one doesn’t see locks. Locks and canals were instrumental in the early days of our country for commerce and expansion. I agree with others on the history of Starved Rock being an interesting part of history.

Christine said...

Still enjoying the catchup!!
At the end of September I travelled up North to Liverpool for a 'cruise' along a ship canal that my grandfather had helped to build back in the day. The locks were an interesting experience, great technology.
You are certainly having some great hikes.

quiltzyx said...

Such wonderful photos of everything! Love the "Lock Flock" of Pelicans :)