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Venture out early for a trip worth the drive – Oregon, Illinois

From Lowden State Park near Oregon, Illinois
From Lowden State Park near Oregon, Illinois
Lori VanNatta

While the fall colors are fading fast in many parts of southern Wisconsin, you should still be able to see plenty of fall colors next weekend by taking a trip to Ogle County, Illinois.

The trip is sure to have something to interest everyone in the family as the beauty of nature is abundant, the area is jam-packed with history, there are three Illinois State Parks nearby, as well as, opportunities for those with varied interests, such as trains and rural architecture

To get to Oregon, which is the county seat of Ogle County, Illinois, you may want to travel south through the rolling hills of Green County taking in some of the Barn Quilts, which you have not already seen.

Heading south into Illinois, the rural countryside remains breathtaking with hills, streams, and wetlands in abundance giving you plenty of opportunity to enjoy nature. On a recent trip Day Trip Examiner, saw a doe and her twin yearlings grazing in an already harvested cornfield near the road.

Make sure you check out the barns of the area. One style is prominent and you will likely begin to notice it in the very southern portion of Wisconsin, but will be repeated in some size or color over and over again once you travel south of German Valley, Illinois. The barns have a traditional gambrel style roof line upon which is perched a dormer of sorts that runs perpendicular to the main wing of the barn. Typically both ends of the dormer has windows. (see slide show).

In Oregon, take the time to check out the progress being made to restore the Oregon Train Depot built in 1913 and used to serve rail passengers until 1971. The stucco exterior has been restored and is being repainted. Plans are to return the building, which had been damaged through years of neglect and vandal to house the five main rooms it did during the glory days of train travel.

Some of the must see buildings in Oregon include the Ogle County Courthouse. It has now been refurbished and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, check out the Chana School Museum built in 1883 it now houses a museum with artifacts about education in the area in the late 1800s.

If you go to Oregon on the weekend and have a train enthusiast in the family, make sure to stop by Conover Square and check out the Blackhawk Model Railroad Club.

The Rock River runs south from Wisconsin through Oregon and you will not be able to miss the statue perched on the east bluff of Chief Blackhawk. Blackhawk was a Sac Indian Chief who fought against American military in battles throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois because of the loss of lands once called home by the Sac and Fox tribes. The statue honoring the old Indian chief who so loved the land is built of concrete. The statue itself is forty-eight feet tall and stands atop a six foot high platform. Located in Lowden State Park, the statue towers far above the river below. A steep wooden staircase leads to the river level where visitors can enjoy the river on a gravel walking path.

The views from the bluff where the statue stands are as impressive as the statue itself and should not be missed. Across the river, sits the Pride of Oregon Paddle Wheeler adjacent to the Maxson Riverside Restaurant.

Two other nearby state parks also provide recreational opportunities and sightseeing opportunities. They are the Castle Rock State Park and the White Pines Forest State Park.

More history is nearby in Grand Detour where you can visit the blacksmith shop set up by John Deere when he moved from Vermont to the Midwest. It was here that in 1837 that Deere fashioned what he called a self-polishing plow blade to help area farmers having difficulties cultivating the sticky Midwestern soil.


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