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Saturday, April 14, 2012

POST 599: 04/14/12; OREGON - MT. MORRIS - LANART - MT. CARROLL, ILLINOIS

After a pleasant night parked in downtown Oregon, Illinois, we drove SPIA the 5 miles to the town of Mt. Morris, to which I walked last evening...

Above image is Highway 64 as it passes through the residential district of Mt. Morris.


From Mt. Morris, we walked at top speed for 20 miles. The sky was heavy overcast with a stiff Southwest wind. Weather forecast was for rain with thunder and lightning and the distinct possibility of tornado activity.

I wanted to get in as many miles as possible before rain descended onto us, so I pushed as hard as ever before. In the process, I again strained my left leg muscles...a repeat of the same difficulty I faced a couple weeks ago when we put up 42 miles crossing Indiana.


During the past couple weeks, streams have been moving sluggishly because of the flat land.

Since crossing the Rock River yesterday, the landscape changed completely...we are now among endless rolling hills...which are getting larger as we approach the Mississippi River.

The above stream is flowing rather swiftly.



The rolling landscape is seen in the above image.


As in the endless Great Plains of Colorado which we walked many months ago, side roads were dirt or gravel. In this part of Illinois, the side roads are also unpaved as seen in the above undulating roadway.


Please click click this image to enlarge. The information contains little known details of President Abraham Lincoln as a young man living nearby.


Please say HELLO to Steve.

Steve was mowing the side of Highway 64 as it passed in front of his ranch entrance. Took a few moments to chat with Steve.



The plaque re. President Lincoln is located in this grove of trees which contain a roadside rest area. We parked SPIA here while I walked another 6 miles before continuing on to the town of Lanark, Illinois.



In Lanark, we again parked SPIA while I walked West on Highway 64 to the village of Mt. Carroll, Illinois.



Mt. Carroll is an historic town with numerous immense brick buildings which was once a thriving university campus with many students. As with the town, all industries moved on, leaving no work or economic activity. 20% of the population is lost at every census, leaving only about 1,700 residents. The university has closed for lack of students. Dozens of multi-story buildings stand empty. The town has tried to auction them off - with $00.00 as the starting bid, and have received NO bids at all.

I am told that one can purchase properties in Mt. Carroll with 4 + bedrooms for as little as $5,000.00 (with taxes at $800.00/year)...and no one is buying.

Things do not appear encouraging for residents of Mt. Carroll.


This image is a world-renowned (through a web site) Haunted House called Ravens Grins. It is 1/2 block from the County Court House...is lived in.. admission is charged to visitors who come from the corners of the Earth.


Part of the University complex...all of which is empty, looking for someone to come save it.


Please say HELLO to Officer Owen.

Officer Owen is a part time Mt. Carroll City Police Officer.

Officer Owen and I struck up a friendship when I pulled into "THE LAND OF OZ" - where SPIA is parked for the night -. Owen tells me he had immediate interest in SPIA because vehicles such as SPIA are typically used by drug dealers/transporters in and around the Chicago area.

I offered Owen to visit inside SPIA to verify her innocence; instead, Owen offered to give me the two-bit ($0.25) tour of his town, Mt. Carroll...which I promptly accepted.


Natural cliffs abound in Mt. Carroll, in which not too long ago was the last mass-killing ground of Bison (Buffalo); the American Indians herded the Bison, driving them to the cliff edge, where the entire herd would jump off to their death...to be recovered by the Native Americans for din din.


A small river, the Wakarusa, flows at the bottom of the cliffs...most of which are much higher than the one pictured above (tried to photograph the taller cliffs, but trees block the views).

I am told on good authority that residents have been baptised in the waters of the Wakarusa.


The Wakarusa flowing along the cliffs on the left...this is where the Buffalo met their deaths.



Inside this building used to be a millstone, where grain was ground.

The millstone was driven by the waterwheel from the waters of the Wakarusa. The above waterwheel is a recent copy of the original.


From a hilltop cemetery overlooking the Wakarusa, one has a birds-eye view of the main street of a once thriving County Seat, the village of Mt. Carroll.


This elegant colonial home is part of 7+ acre estate, complete with two additional homes - one a 4 bedroom/2 bath home which sits unoccupied -, and a 1/4 acre artisan fed clear water lake stocked with numerous game fish including trout and bass, available to all residents of Mt. Carroll at no charge.

Officer Owen has the good fortune to live in this home with his three teenage sons; for which he pays $500.00/month rent - which includes the entire properties, even the 2 unoccupied homes and the lake.

The property is for sale; but, as with other properties in Mt. Carroll, there are no buyers.

I suggested to Officer Owen that a person like myself, living on $$ limited to Social Security, could live quite comfortably in any number of available Mt. Carroll homes...he agreed.


The spring-fed lake full of game fish.


Please say HELLO to Richard Frey... a.k.a. "OZ"

Richard owns the LAND OF OZ where we are parked for the night. Oz even provided SPIA with electricity for the night so we could top off her batteries and help publish today's blog.

Thank you, Richard...and thank you for the killer Pulled Pork Sandwich.


The LAND OF OZ...SPIA is around the left side of the building, snuggled into a corner out of the traffic flow.


This granary is across Highway 64/US 52 from Richard's LAND OF OZ. I am told that about a year ago, three teen age boys (14, 15, & 19) were employed there. In the performance of their work, they entered one of those silos. The silo was partially filled with grain (corn kernels) which had formed a crust. Walking to cross over the crust, the 14 and 15 year olds fell into the corn below when the crust gave way. The 19 year old jumped in to rescue them...

All three young boys died.

Yes, there were OSHA violations and penalties, some of which are still unresolved in the courts.

Mt. Carroll is only 10 - 11 miles from the Mississippi River at the town of Savanna, Illinois. I was going to walk to Savanna this afternoon; however, my left leg is quite sore - as before -. I may take tomorrow off to let it rest before continuing to the river and on into the State of Iowa.

If I do rest tomorrow, I will take time to walk through the Historic village of Mt. Carroll. Today's glimpse I received from Officer Owen has whetted my appetite to delve a bit deeper.

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