Saturday, September 16, 2017

Driving in Spoon River country

Recently I had an opportunity to drive down along the Spoon River valley with Lil' Nick, Tom Anderson and Kimberly Watley.  We had been aiming for Camp Ellis, a former camp left over from WW 2 where they housed German prisoners of war. Along the way however we came across a few interesting sights.

 Our first stop was in West Jersey, where we took a few minutes to wander thru the church cemetery and snap a few photo's of the interesting markers we found there.  Kimberly even made friends with a fella named Boomer who had to 'photo bomb' a picture or two.  It was a quiet, peaceful spot and we made the most of the time there but eventually we had to press on, there was still yet more places to see.

Next on our list was the tiny village of Bernadotte.  We ate at the Bernadotte cafe and had a Great meal there! If you're ever in the area I highly recommend it. After lunch we took photo's of the nearby Old Mill site and the dam that still exists that once powered the mill wheel. Also next to the cafe, which had about four or five dozen Hummingbirds flitting about the windows, there was an old reminder of a time when we all didn't have a cell phone on our pockets.

From Bernadotte, we drove up to Camp Ellis and snapped quite a few photo's of the ruins and a couple buildings that had been repurposed. You'll see those photo's in a later post. But after leaving Camp Ellis we passed back thru Bernadotte and took the old road heading for Lewistown. Along the way we spied a marker for Tuscumbia, a ghost town that was founded  in 1837 and flourished for a few years but was eventually abandoned in 1855.

The afternoon was wearing on so we ended our day in Lewistown. There we found a depot for the now defunct Fulton county narrow gauge railroad which ran from Galesburg to Lewistown with stops in London Mills, Cuba, Havana, Sep, and others. It had 61 miles of track and ran from 1880 until 1905.  Today the depot serves as a museum to it's railroading past with a former caboose next to it that is open for tours on days the museum is open.

There are So Many rich treasures around our state if you just know where to look for them, so get out on some weekend day, fill the tank on the car and go Exploring. You won't be sorry you did.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

He lived in Three centuries!

On a recent trip to downstate Illinois we stopped off at Oak Hill cemetery in Lewistown to see some unique markers and photograph the wonderful Civil war monument there. While we were exploring the place one tombstone in particular caught my eye and I snapped a couple photo's of it. My helper, Tom Anderson, was intrigued as well and did some research on the man buried there and as it turns out he led quite a colorful life.

Nathaniel Bordwine was born in 1799 in Albermarle county, Virginia to Lewis (Louis) Bordwine and Anna Tuggle. His biological father died three weeks before his sons birth and so he lived with his grandfather Tuggle until he was 13 at which time he moved back in with his mother and stepfather. In 1822 he married Olive Robbins and together they emigrated to Fulton County, IL. where he purchased land for farming. When the Black Hawk war broke out in 1832 he enlisted under an alias (Minard Van Dyke) and fought as a mounted ranger in Sain's company with distinction.

When Olive died in 1834 He had four children to look after and he married Elizabeth Simms in 1837 and had several children by her. In all, he married three times (Four if you count the woman he married twice) and had a total of Fifteen children. In his 100+ years of life he never learned to read nor write, didn't attend church, and considered himself a Republican. He also chewed tobacco and had three shots of whiskey every day without fail.

Nathaniel died on July 24th, 1900 at the ripe old age of One hundred years, Eight months and Nineteen days old and laid to rest in Oak Hill cemetery near the civil war section.  So if you ever find yourself in that neck of the woods consider stopping by for a moment and reflecting on the life, and accomplishments, of a great man.  A big Thank You to Tom Anderson for doing all the  research for me!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Trip back in Time

On a recent outing with fellow photographer Stephen Beatty I ventured down south to the Wheels O'Time museum in Dunlap, just outside of Peoria, IL. For those who don't know about it this is a museum devoted to saving, restoring, and displaying odd bits of  Illinois history as well as things of a national interest. Begun in 1977 it's open six months out of the year and staffed entirely by volunteer labor.

They have four buildings chock full of items from our area including some rare examples of local automotive history, a 1925 Velie built in Moline by the grandson of John Deere, a 1917 Glide built by the Bartholomew co, of East Peoria, a 1917 Gem built by Charles Duryea and still more. There's a trimotor aircraft hanging from the ceiling, several displays of motorized railroad models from the Peoria area all set up to be made to move at the touch of a button.

Their largest display by far is the locomotive, tender, and train cars sitting alongside the main building. It, too, is set up so you can climb a platform and step into the cab, blow the whistle, ring the bell and pretend you're at the throttle, pulling an express down the line. My trip was cut short the day i was there and I had to leave before I was finished. So expect to see another post sometime in the near future with a bunch more photo's.

The museum is located on Route 40 on the outskirts of Peoria and there is a donation of $6.00 for admission, well worth the price. So if you ever find yourself bored on a weekend or the kids are bugging you to go do something, consider a trip back in Time.