Heartland History (Day 42)


One of our goals for The Great Loop is to get to know America better, and remember its history. We have entered “America’s heartland.” We are in Ottowa, Ill., the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate. Seven debates took place between the two men vying for the Republican nomination. Abe Lincoln won and became one of our most consequential presidents.

He obviously was a good speaker, but more than that. We know that he put great thought into what he said, and considered the consequences. His reward? To preside over the Civil War and get assassinated. Such are the consequences of effective communication, coupled with deep principles, when some don’t want to hear it.

This might sound “too deep,” but The Loop is not only about adventure and socializing. It’s also about America … its history and its complexity, both past and present.

At least, it can be. I’m determined that it will be.

So, we took the bikes into town to acquaint ourselves with this town’s part in American history. A stop at the visitor’s center helped a lot. (When visiting a new place, the visitor’s center is always a good stop. I’m surprised how many people pass by them!) This is a charming town that displays its history proudly. See photos and captions below.

We followed the Illinois and Michigan (I&M) Canal into town. Like the C&O Canal near my home, not much is left of the canal itself but it remains an historic attraction.
Lincoln towered over Douglas, didn’t he! I like to think I’m an effective communicator, but when I read Lincoln’s best stuff (the Gettysburg address!), I’m so humbled.
This downtown mural honors Union General Wallace, who lost his life at Shiloh. He was a lawyer before he was a general, and married the daughter of his law partner. That same law partner was good friends with Abe Lincoln (who was also lawyer), even though he supported Douglas and not Lincoln for president. Remember when political differences didn’t affect friendships?
This bank stayed open during the Great Depression — the only bank in town to do so — because it displayed a million dollars in $20 bills in the window every day to remind people that it was solvent. How ingenious.
The I&M Canal looks like this today, but before the railroad era, it helped establish Chicago as a transportation hub.
Shifting from the past to present, our top-notch Heritage Harbor Marina is part of a “marina resort community” — a man-made development project that shows what American ingenuity looks like today.

2 thoughts on “Heartland History (Day 42)

  1. Thank you Mary. I LOVE the combination of present day, history and your commentary. When I saw the bank I wanted to say, remember the days when a bank could show 1,000,000 in the window and not get broken into? Although there were bank robberies in all the old cowboy movies we watched as kids, so….. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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