Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Last one in Carroll county

A couple months ago we took a trip that led us thru Thomson, IL. where we found the old Thomson train depot. No longer used for rail traffic it's now been re-purposed as a train museum. 

Built in the late 1800's for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy RR. the station served the village for decades until changing traffic patterns and a drop off in passengers and freight resulted in the station shuttering it's doors.  It could have become like so many other stations around Illinois, sitting neglected and forlorn in a tall jumble of weeds or torn down in the name of 'Progress' but a committee was formed to save the historic little depot as it is the last one of its kind in Carroll county. 

And so in 1986 the depot was moved from it's original site to a spot a short distance away with an addition being built in 1989 that included more exhibition space and public bathrooms.  It's open Fridays thru Sundays from May thru October 1-4 pm.

If you ever have a chance to visit the village, stop and explore this unique little depot, one of only a handful left.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

It's that time of the year to say Thank You

I wanted to take a moment to give a hearty Thank You!! to the people seen and unseen who help me with Off the Beaten Path. I have a variety of helpers (Faithful Minion) who take time out of their busy days to slide in the car and travel along with me on my adventures.  Without their help and exuberant energy I couldn't get half the photo's I do as they go into the places I can't physically reach anymore.

We usually start the day quiet, just catching up on gossip but within an hour or so we are laughing, telling ribald jokes and stories and having a great time enjoying Life. While I started my adventures years ago by myself it is far more preferable to take along a friend or two to share the day with as well.

So my hat goes off to Tom Anderson, Nick Bouslog, Kimberly Watley, Scott Mecum, Stephen Beatty, Sean Flynn and anyone else associated with making my blog work.  I've had so many requests from others to join me that Tom jokingly suggested I rent a mini bus to take them all. (At least I Think he was joking).

So thank you again to these people who have become dear friends willing to share one old mans dreams and passions. And if YOU'D like to tag along sometime on one of my adventures just let me know. I'm sure we can squeeze you in.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Back to the Hennepin canal

With warmer weather starting to approach it's time to decide where I'm going to venture out to this year. More abandoned trains? Obscure parks and museums? Forgotten memorials? Hopefully all of the above and More.  But one of the places I'll hit again for sure is that local treasure we call the Hennepin canal.

The idea for a canal was first raised in 1834 when the early railroads were unreliable, didn't go to every small town, and charged exorbitant rates to ship freight.  The idea was to cut a canal that would join with the Illinois river and then work its way up to Chicago and from there it could be shipped  all over the country.  Like all good idea's though, this met with some resistance. Namely who would pay for it.

The local citizens tried to get the government interested in the project but the administration took little interest. It wasn't until the Civil war broke out that the government start showing some interest. There was a fear that if England came out in support of the confederacy, the St. Lawrence river would be closed to union traffic and goods would  need to be shipped via a different route.  But that fear became moot as the war progressed.

It wasn't until U. S. Grant took office that the idea for  the canal started taking off. Grant had actually served on one of the local committee's before the war and remembered the dream of a local canal.  Construction began in 1890 with locks, gates, and lock tenders houses being constructed along the way and so after numerous delays and setbacks the canal was finally finished with the gates opening for the first time on November 15th, 1907.  The steamer chartered to carry the government  officials for the event, the S.S. Marion, was the first boat to travel the entire length of the canal.

In it's heyday the canal carried freight up and down the waterways but by the time it was constructed the reason For its construction had largely become irrelevant. The railroads had built spur lines that went most anywhere and even early roadways were coming into use.  Plus it was criticized as being too small for modern day boats to traverse.  A waterway guide from 1921 stated in part that:

"Craft traversing the canal shall not exceed 102 feet in length, Shall be no wider than 16 feet at the waterline and 14 feet 7 inches at the keel, shall not draw more than 4 feet 6 inches of water and shall be no higher than 11 feet 2 inches"

After  four decades of sporadic use, the Corps of Engineers determined it would need over 12 Million dollars in repairs, which the government deemed not worth expending. Because of this and other restrictions the canal fell into sporadic use as a transportation hub though it was still widely used for recreation and thus it was that after only 44 years it was shut down in 1951.

In 1970 ownership of the canal passed to the State of Illinois and today it is a recreation parkway widely used for fishing, snowmobiling, hiking and other outdoor activities. If you ever have an opportunity to visit one of the many locks and parks now open to the public I urge you to do so.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Hodge Podge

There are times when we go out on our adventures that we find something interesting to photograph but then for one reason or another I don't use the photo's.  Maybe there weren't enough pictures for a single post, or maybe I couldn't find any history on a subject and didn't want to just make up a story.

So today here is a slew of photo's that for one reason or another didn't make the cut. Enjoy!