Lena G. Reynolds

My family is from Chicago, but we’ve been fairly intertwined with the Quad Cities area, on the border of Illinois and Iowa (Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf, and Davenport). One of our favorite places to visit is Blackhawk State Park in Rock Island. It was the site of a fraudulent Native American treaty that ceded Sauk and Meskwaki lands to the United States in the late 1700s, which directly influenced the Black Hawk War of the 1830s. By the Gilded Age, Rock Island became one of the wealthiest communities in the country. With the expansion of the recreation movement in the late 19th century, this became the site of an early amusement park with the first Chute of Chutes log ride. In the 1930s it was transformed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) into Blackhawk State Park. Over 200 men were employed on the site, which  was outfitted with extensive hiking trails, picnic shelters, landscaping, and an astounding lodge. The lodge is today a common site for weddings and community gatherings, decorated with murals, sculptures, and massive fireplaces. It also features killer views of the park and the Mississippi river. It’s definitely worth a visit to feel the rich history of the site and appreciate the work that was done for the benefit of generations to come.


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