For several years, Springfield was home to me. As I reflect upon my time in this small midwestern city, I’d like to share a few gems with you.
One observation that struck me early on about Springfield was that I wondered if there is another U.S. city of similar size with as many restaurants and churches.
Springfield is a 2.5 hour drive to Chicago and a 90 minute drive to St. Louis. You can also visit by Amtrak from those cities or fly in from any major city in the U.S. There are several places to stay and I would recommend renting a car during your visit.
I loved driving around the county—predominantly flat with patches of rolling prairie hills. The small towns are a good insight into heartland America.
Summers in Springfield can be hot and humid. Winters are cold.
My favorite time of the year in Springfield was winter. Winters in Springfield reminded me of “Fog” by Carl Sandburg:
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
We often wander through the landmarks of a town or city without going off the beaten path. Sometimes it is the limited time on hand or access to the location; other times it is the lack of knowledge of that unusual landmark.
A culmination of points of interest converge at the Covered Bridge at Sugar Creek in Glenarm, Illinois. It’s a short drive south from Springfield, off of Interstate 55, on to the historical Route 66, and into the heartland of USA.
Dickson Mounds Museum is an on-site archaeological museum located on the grounds of Dickson Mounds State Park. The purpose of the Museum, which is a branch of the Illinois State Museum, is to document the journey of American Indians in the Illinois River Valley.
I did not see a “No Photography” sign, therefore I took a few pictures at the Museum. These pictures of exhibits and artifacts are a glimpse at the history and culture that resides within the Museum.
In 1839, Joseph Smith chose Commerce [now Nauvoo, said to mean “beautiful place”] as the home for his followers.
Nauvoo was originally a Sauk and Fox village. After the Indians moved west of the Mississippi, promoters had a difficult time because the marshy bottom lands attracted few settlers.
Nauvoo became one of the largest cities in Illinois after Mormon converts from the USA and Europe swelled the population to approximately 15,000.
Tunnel Hill State Trail is a day-use trail. It is a woody railroad line converted into a bike trail that stretches 45-miles from Harrisburg to Karnak, Illinois.
I’m not an experienced cyclist but I was able to travel the complete trail in a day. Remember to carry food and water.
If you prefer shorter rides, I recommend the trailhead in Vienna that allows comfortable round-trips on the trail—approximately 10 miles north gets you to Tunnel Hill; 13-miles south is the Henry Barkhausen Wetlands Center. With a 2% grade, the trail is comfortable.
Landform changes along the trail. Keep an eye on interpretive signs. Start early; it’s quiet. Be prepared to be with yourself.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was about simplicity, balance, and elegance when it came to the Farnsworth House.
The Farnsworth House is a National Trust Historic Site adjoining the Fox River, south of the city of Plano, Illinois. It is one room, made up of steel and glass, and is a brilliant expression of architecture. Three distinct spatial interfaces were created within a 2,400 square feet plan.
Note: A photo from this collection appears in the book Geometry of Design.
A bit off the beaten path, the Garden of the Gods covers more than 3,300 acres of forest.
Located in the Shawnee National Forest in southeastern Illinois, the Garden of the Gods has several trails. The Observation Trail is most popular — an interpretive trail with interesting history about the geology of the area. Made of sandstone, the rock formations and cliffs are approximately 320 million years old.