Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Starved Rock,IL. Anniversay. Wildfires.


For Travel Tuesday, let's visit Starved Rock.

Starved Rock lent its name to Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL

"To celebrate Starved Rock’s 100th year as a state park, historical writer Jim Ridings of Herscher converted most of his 200-picture postcard collection of the park and into the self-published “Greetings from Starved Rock: A Picture Postcard Look at Starved Rock State Park.”




Some of the black-and-white pictures hail from the 1890s, while many of the postcards in the early 20th century were colorized. Other cards Ridings slightly enlarged to highlight their color and detail.

“This is not a complicated or detailed history book,” Ridings said. “It is simply a pleasant picture book about Starved Rock State Park, told in the picture postcards of the day.”

Picture postcards, Ridings added, were popular a century ago. They contained only a brief, casual message, “the equivalent of texting in that era,” Ridings said.

A rich history

Starved Rock at Utica, Ridings said, has a rich history.

In 1673, French explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Marquette passed the area on their way from the Illinois River to the Mississippi River.

In 1682, the French claimed the region and built Fort St. Louis on Starved Rock. In 1702, the French abandoned the fort, so traders and trappers used it for shelter. By 1720, the fort was gone.

Starved Rock’s name, Ridings said, derives from legend.

In 1769, the Potawatomi and Fox Indians fiercely attacked the village of the Illinois Indians by the Great Rock to avenge Chief Pontiac’s death. Eventually Potawatomi and Fox Indians trapped the Illinois tribe, which retreated to the top of the rock, where they starved to death.

“The tale came down through the years from Indian storytellers,” Ridings said. “There have been excavations and other forensic investigations, but no real evidence has been found to prove it really happened. Some modern-day historians believe it is all just a tall tale.”

The early years

In 1835, Daniel Hitt bought Starved Rock and 68 acres from the U.S. government for $85. In 1890, Ferdinand Walther bought Starved Rock and 100 acres — with an option to purchase 265 more acres at $45 per acre from Hitt for $21,000

Walther built a large hotel at the base of the south bluff below Starved Rock and a dance pavilion near the concession area. He also developed an artesian-fed swimming pool just south of Devil’s Nose. In 1911, Walther sold 280 acres — including Starved Rock — to the state of Illinois for $146,000.

Ridings topically divided the chapters and images: “The Great Rock,” “Canyons, Caves and Trails,” “Starved Rock Lodge” and “Matthiessen State Park.” "

"In addition to the postcards, Ridings shares some of the history to accompany the cards. For instance, Ridings makes a distinction between Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park, a separate park, which many people confuse as being extensions of each other.

“As far as God, who created the entire geological formation, is concerned, that may be correct,” Ridings said. “As far as the state of Illinois is concerned, Matthiessen and Starved Rock are two different state parks. It’s not as developed as Starved Rock is, but I think it’s more beautiful. It’s just nature untouched by man.”

Buy “Greetings from Starved Rock: A Picture Postcard Look at Starved Rock State Park” at www.amazon.com. It is also available at the lodge shop at Starved Rock."


Starved Rock State Park celebrated 100 years on June 10, 2011.

"On that date in 1911, the land became public property with approval by the Illinois General Assembly. At that time the state paid $146,000 for 280 acres that have expanded over the years."

Lots more information at: http://www.starvedrockstatepark.org/pressreleases/details.cfm?pageID=198&pressID=111


Starved Rock State Park

"Experience the fun of outdoor adventure at Starved Rock State Park. Whether you enjoy hiking along the nature trails or viewing the many spectacular overlooks along the Illinois River, recreational opportunities abound. From picnicking to fishing to boating, from horseback riding to camping to enjoying winter sports, there’s so much to do that you’ll come back again and again.

The backdrop for your activities are 18 canyons formed by glacial meltwater and stream erosion. They slice dramatically through tree-covered, sandstone bluffs for four miles at Starved Rock State Park, which is located along the south side of the Illinois River, one mile south of Utica and midway between the cities of LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa.

The park is best known for its fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface.

While the areas along the river and its tributaries still are predominantly forested, much of the area is a flat, gently rolling plain. The upland prairies were created during an intensive warming period several thousand years after the melting of the glaciers. The Illinois River Valley in the Starved Rock area is a major contrast to the flatland. The valley was formed by a series of floods as glacial meltwater broke through moraines, sending torrents of water surging across the land and deeply eroding the sandstone and other sedimentary rocks.

During early spring, when the end of winter thaw is occurring and rains are frequent, sparkling waterfalls are found at the heads of all 18 canyons, and vertical walls of moss-covered stone create a setting of natural geologic beauty uncommon in Illinois. Some of the longer-lasting waterfalls are found in French, LaSalle and St. Louis canyons.


Waterfalls, rivers and streams can undercut a cliff, creating overhangs in the sandstone, like Council Overhang at the east end of the park. Other sights can be seen from the bluffs themselves, which provide vantage points for enjoying spectacular vistas.

The porous sandstone bluffs allow water to soak quickly through, only to collect in greater quantities on the slopes below. The resulting lush vegetation supports an abundant wildlife and bird population, including woodchucks, moles, vireos and catbirds. Wood ducks that nest in hollow trees occasionally can be seen paddling along the river’s edge. Evidence of beavers and muskrats can be seen as you walk along the River Trail.

Black oak, red cedar and white oak, as well as white pine and white cedar, grow on the drier, sandy bluff tops. Yellowbellied sapsuckers drill parallel rows of small holes on cedar trees and return to feed on sap and small insects. Serviceberry and northern honeysuckle--shrubs that prefer a well-drained area--attract scarlet tangers and cedar waxwings.

Farther away from the bluffs, red oaks and hickories predominate in deeper soils. Typical plants characteristic of the forest floor include the American witch hazel, black huckleberry and bracken fern. Nuthatches and chickadees feed on nuts, seeds and insects found in the bark of trees. Raccoons and flying squirrels spend many hours searching for and gathering berries and nuts.

At the forest edge, bright blue indigo buntings flit through the wild crab apple and plum trees that skirt the former glacial till prairie, while cottontail rabbits scamper through the bluestem and Indian grasses. In the sandy prairie soil, prickly pear cactus grows alongside lead plant, compass plant and rattlesnake master. White-tailed deer come to munch on the sumac, and red-tailed hawks soar overhead in search of voles and field mice."

"Throughout spring and summer, wildflowers are as plentiful and varied as they are beautiful. Included in the floral array are colorful lichens and mosses, marsh marigolds, wild iris, trillium and Dutchman’s breeches, plus purple-flowered spiderworts, nodding or orange columbine and the magenta blooms of shooting star.

The poison ivy plant is found in all areas of the park. Its greenish-white berries provide an important food source for birds.

Special Events

Starved Rock State Park is host to a number of enjoyable annual events, including the Winter Wilderness Weekend in January, the Cross-Country Ski Weekend in February, the Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage in May, the Montreal Canoe Weekend in June - and the Fall Colors Weekend in October. 
Visitor Center

Starved Rock State Park,



Ray and I did some work on the back and undercarriage of the cargo trailer.  When the welder welded the extra beams under the trailer, he cut off the bumper, and it still hasn't been put back on yet.  So Ray painted all that metal under the trailer with Hammered Black paint. 


The winds from TS Lee have blown a lot of pine needles down, so I was raking them off the pathways into a big pile, while Ray was painting.   Still no rain, so there isn't much we can do with them right now, as the burn ban is still in effect.  We can smell the smoke from the wildfires west of us.  http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Wildfire-burns-near-Montgomery-2156862.php


We are ready to have the bumper welded back on, but one of the tires I bought for the trailer has a puncture, so the trailer can't be towed down there until that is fixed.

Ray took the tire off, but as the trailer is on a slope, I was worried that it might roll forward with just one wheel chocked.  We drove a piece of rebar into the ground in front of the block under the tongue jack, so it shouldn't move.   Then, I screwed a little block across the end of a 6" x 8" wooden block, and we let the wheel-less hub back down on the block behind the crosspiece, so it can't roll either.  That should hold it until I can get the tire fixed.


The weather was so nice that Prime and the kittens were on the screen porch, and they enjoyed watching what we were doing.  But, like all kittens they think that the flats of aloe plants make great beds, and squashed some of them.


Then Ray helped me get the winter bedspread that I sewed big hems on the sides to make it narrower, into a blanket bag and put it way up in the top of my blanket storage area.  Winter shouldn't be here for a while.  I don't climb up there when I am alone in the house. 

I had made it narrower, as I need to be able to see if Misty or Prime are under my bed without getting on my hands and knees.  I count noses often, to make sure every critter is present and correct!  Next, I will sew a wider hem on the bed skirt, for the same reason.  It looks tacky right now, just tucked under the mattress at different places, so that I can see who is under there in the 'critter cave'.


Many years ago, my back and right knee were hurt in an industrial accident, and I couldn't walk, possibly ever again. 

Getting tired of propelling myself around by my arms, with perseverance, I got over that.   But if I need to pick up something, I cannot bend my knees to lift it like I should, I have to bend over straight-legged.    If I have to stay in that position, like to vacuum under something, I can't straighten up without help.  There is no pain, it just stiffens up, so I don't dare bend over if there isn't something to cling to, to help me get back up.  So Ray offered to help me vacuum under the furniture.  That was a great help.


It won't stay that way, but cooler weather has arrived, our high is forecast to be 88°, and our low was 51° today.

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