About 2 hours southwest by car lies a wonderful park waiting to be discovered. My husband and I visited Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois recently. We had a great getaway weekend packed with fresh-air adventures. In temperatures just above freezing, we layered up and hiked about a mile and a half to St Louis Canyon, which is billed as a winter “must see”. Reaching the end of the canyon trail we were rewarded by an awesome sight: an 80’ frozen waterfall Water trickled behind the ice, and glacier blue ice formations lined the walls of the canyon next to the main icefall. We took time to thoroughly enjoy the experience, even walking around behind the falls under the limestone bluff. Eventually, we made our way out of the canyon and headed back up the trail. Just as we reached the Lodge, a heavy rainstorm began to pound the roof, providing a perfect excuse to spend the afternoon near the massive limestone double fireplace in the Great Hall.
Illinois residents can take pride in this gem, which encompasses 2630 acres along the Illinois River and is famous for its canyons, bluffs, and waterfalls. The park’s history goes back to Illinois native tribes and the French explorer LaSalle, who built a fort on the bluff to support French trade with the Indians. Modern history reveals that in 1835, Daniel Hitt purchased the land from the US Government as compensation for his army service. The next owner, Ferdinand Walther, began to build accommodations for vacationers. In 1911, the State of Illinois purchased the site and made it the state’s first recreational park In the 1930′s the Civilian Conservation Corps placed three camps at Starved Rock State Park and began building the Lodge and trail systems Today the trails, camps and Lodge are accessible to anyone who wants to visit.
Well Child Center was founded to protect a different natural resource—the children of our community. While Starved Rock State Park preserves natural beauty for recreation, our agency nurtures healthy, strong children and families who will enrich our community into the next generation and beyond. We have inherited wonderful blessings from previous generations. Now it’s our turn. How will we preserve and protect them for our children?
About Linda Rusenovich, RD, LDN
Linda is the mother of four young adults and has worked at the Well Child Center since 2005. She encourages parents to take small steps toward better health for themselves and their children.