Monday, May 9, 2016
Who Feeds Rocks Anyway?
Today I am pleased to bring you another guest post, this time brought to you by a Mr. Josh Rowley. He and his wife are currently on month 8 of living just outside of Chicago, Illinois and are having fun exploring the area. If you are interested in sharing stories of your own simply send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Without further ado here is Starved Rocks State Park in Illinois!
About an hour and a half outside of the bustling metropolis of Chicago lies a secret oasis just off the southern shores of the Illinois River.
A few miles down the road from the quaint village of Utica, Illinois sits Starved Rock State Park. The park features eighteen sandstone canyons carved from glacial meltwater and over thirteen miles of hiking trails. As you explore these trails you’ll encounter vertical moss covered sandstone walls, waterfalls, seasonal run-offs, natural spring, and amazing overlooks. Unfortunate for us we ran out of time, so were not able to explore the canyons as well as we would have liked. We’ll have to go back and do a part 2 on the canyons.
If wildlife is more of your thing you will not be disappointed. For the avid bird watcher, you’ll discover avians of all types From the House Finches to the majestic American Bald Eagle. Bird species vary throughout the year. The park does have families of Bald Eagle that live there year round, but the population rise as winter months fall upon it. We just happened to be there during the White Pelican migration. A bird that is usually associated with places like Florida. These pelican migrate during the spring to nest In Canada and some northwestern states. Truly something to see.
For the anglers out there, you’ll find spectacular fishing off the banks of the Illinois River. Boats are also permitted, but be careful not to get to close to the dam. Strong current and undertows can be very dangerous. Catfish, bullhead, white bass, sauger, walleye, carp and crappie can all be found in the river. You can find many tournaments throughout the year. Unfortunately you have to take the good with the bad or vice versa. The invasive Silver or “Asian” Carp has been introduced to the river system and has impacted the native species and has put some fish populations into decline.
Looking to camp at the park? You’ll be happy to find the Starved Rock Campground. Located about a mile from the visitor center. The campground has about 133 sites, single and group, ready for booking. Electricity, showers, toilets, and a children's play area are provided. If you're more of a “glamper”, you can book a room at the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center. Originally built in 1930’s, you’ll feel like you step into the past when you set foot through the door. A historic feel with modern amenities. A great place for all occasions.
The park was founded in 1911 and encompasses 2630 acres of forest and river land. Don’t be fooled by the pretty scenery, there is a lot of history that took place her as well. Researchers have found artifacts from native peoples dating back to around 8,000 B.C.. Native American people populated the area unmolested until 1673 when European explorers and missionaries, Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette, made contact. Ten years later Fort Saint Louis du Rocher. The fort last until the early 1700’s when it was abandoned as the territory transferred from Canada to Louisiana. The fort was used by trapper, traders, and natives until falling into complete disarray. Today there is no sign that the fort ever existed upon the rock.
There are many legends on how the rock got its name. The widely excepted one is the revenge story for the assassination of the Ottawa leader Pontiac. Legend has it that a group of Ottawa and Potawatomi attacked and pursued a group of Illini. The Illini fled up the Illinois River until they came upon the rock, which the climbed seeking refuge from their pursuers. This decision would turnout to be their downfall. The Ottawa and Potawatomi besieged the rock. The Illini held out as long as the could, but eventually their food supplies ran out, which led them to starve to death. Hence the name “Starved” Rock.
From here the land has switched hands between private and public parties, until eventually being bought by Illinois State Parks Commission. With over 2 million visitors a year the park has become a testament of the beauty Illinois has to offer.
Adventure is out there, find yours and explore.