Wild Bill Hickok; W.D.Boyce, founder of the Boy Scouts; the Lincoln/Douglas debates, the men who dug the I&M Canal … these are figures and events that helped build and shape the nation. And, they are all a part of LaSalle County History.
Hegeler Carus Mansion is a National Historic Landmark and a source of pride to LaSalle County. Located at 1307 Seventh Street in LaSalle, this architectural masterpiece, built from 1874-1876, is a key to the history of the Illinois Valley, the Midwest, and the nation. The home was awarded national status for its architecture by W.W. Boyington, August Fiedler’s interior design, and being the birthplace of Open Court Publishing Co., which was dedicated to publishing philosophical and religious works by the great thinkers of the era. The Foundation that operates the Mansion continues the legacy of the remarkable Hegeler and Carus families through educational and cultural events held in the home. One hour tours are available Wednesday thru Sunday at noon, 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. Cost is $10. Special group rates are available. More information is available at www.hegelercarus.org.
Reddick Mansion, a three-story, 22-room Italianate mansion has drawn attention for many years. This wonderfully unique landmark, stands proudly on the corners of Columbus and Lafayette streets in Ottawa. Built in 1858 by William Reddick it remained the family home for thirty years. William Reddick was a respected businessman and politician, but also a philanthropist. With education being of utmost importance to him, he was instrumental in laying the foundation for the University of Illinois and the organization of free public schools in Ottawa. In accordance with the wishes of Mr. Reddick, upon his death the home became the property of the City of Ottawa to be used as a library. The library served Ottawa for over 85 years until it moved to newer facilities. In 1974, the Reddick Mansion Association was chartered as a non-profit corporation in charge of ensuring the restoration, maintenance and operation of the property. This site, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors may tour the mansion Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11 am – 3 pm, every Sunday 11 am – 2 pm. Closed Tuesday. For other times and group tours call (815) 434-6100. www.reddickmansion.com.
Weber House & Garden is a private resident featuring 11 unique English-style gardens spanning 1.5 acres and a cozy cottage brimming with 18th century charm. The 1940’s Tudor-style home features themed rooms decorated with antique furniture and china. Most visits include an entertaining story from Weber House owner, avid gardener and tour guide, Ted Weber. A retired TV/radio personality and Chicago native, Weber delights guests with stories from his extensive travels and interviews with celebrities and politicians throughout his career. Located in Streator at 1503 Baker Street and well worth the short drive. Open all year (weather permitting), daily 10 am – 5 pm, with special events and evening hours during the winter holidays. www.weberhouseandgarden.com.
Art in the Park
The largest collection of chainsaw woodcarvings in the Midwest. Located at Starved Rock Lodge
Everyday from sunrise to sunset, self-guided tours can be taken to see the largest collection of chainsaw woodcarvings in Illinois. All walking paths to the 30 sculptures are wheelchair and stroller-friendly.
Belle of the Rock
1 Dee Bennett Road
There’s no better way to explore the Illinois River than on an authentic paddlewheel boat. The narrated excursion is approximately an hour and leaves from Starved Rock State Park. Sails daily during the Spring, Summer and early Fall.
I & M Canal Boat Tour (view ad)
754 First Street
Your one-hour, round trip journey on a full-size replica canal boat will take you on the same hand-dug waterway that 19th century pioneers traveled. Your guides,dressed as Canal Era crew and passengers, will take you back in time to life on the American frontier and the Illinois prairie.
Ottawa Mural Walking Tour
Ottawa’s Old Town District
Cell phone tour: (815) 434-3357
View our vivid outdoor murals that bring our wonderful history to life! Your cell phone becomes your time-travel machine! Listen to the strike of a pickax on stone as men struggle to build the canal. Hear the thundering hooves of a buffalo stampede. Tours begin from Reddick Mansion.
Heritage Tour – An Illustrated Guide
100 W Lafayette Street
Pick up a copy of this illustrated guide to “The places, faces and ornamentation of Ottawa” and get ready for a magical history tour. Learn about the people who made Ottawa great and who built Ottawa’s breathtaking and imposing skyline.
Spirit of Peoria Tours
100 NE Water Street
This paddlewheel boat is a charming, authentic replica of a nineteenth-century riverboat which travels the Illinois River between Peoria and Starved Rock State Park. Overnight excursions and day trips to and from Starved Rock Lodge run June through November.
Starved Rock Trolley
Departing from Starved Rock Lodge
(815) 667-4211 ext. 386
trolley tours and booking
Take a tour on a unique, fun, historic trolley. See website for a complete schedule of trolley day trips in the area. Trolleys are fully heated and air-conditioned.
Breaking the Prairie Farm Museum
648 8th Street
Depicting agriculture in the early years of Mendota, this museum honors the farm families, their machinery and their livestock. Also included are the Mathesius Brothers Barn and Country Chapel.
901 Washington Street
Located in a restored 1904 Andew Carnegie library building is an extensive photographic collection depicting over 100 years of Mendota area history. Open Saturday & Sunday 1:00 – 4:00 pm March – November.
LaSalle County Historical Society (view ad)
Museum and Complex
101 E Canal Street
Hours: Wednesday – Friday 10-4pm,
Saturday & Sunday Noon – 4pm
The LaSalle County Historical Society collects and preserves artifacts of the rich history of LaSalle County.
The Museum: A stone warehouse built in 1848 to serve the Illinois and Michigan Canal.
Aitken School: A 1865 one-room schoolhouse is furnished with authentic fixtures and accessories.
Kidd Blacksmith Shop: This blacksmith shop has never been anything else! It features a working forge and blacksmithing demonstrations.
1875 Barn: The barn highlights the county’s agricultural history with exhibits of vehicles and tolls spotlighting agrarian life on the Illinois prairie.
The Heritage Center: The newest addition to the complex, this building feature a variety of exhibits from the 20th and 21st centuries.
LaSalle County Genealogy Guild
115 West Glover Street
The guild has a membership of 1,000 worldwide. People come from all parts of the globe to study their genealogy in the guild’s library.
Norsk Scandinavian Museum
(815) 496-9208 or (815) 434-7478
From June through September, the Norsk Museum in Norway, IL, will be open Saturdays and Sundays 1-5pm. The two-building museum is dedicated to the Scandinavian settlers who founded the Norway area in the 1800s. Contains articles of Scandinavian life, such as dishes, clothing, furniture and spinning wheels. Sponsored by the Sons of Norway. Suggested $1 donation admission.
Ottawa Scouting Museum
1100 Canal Street
Promoting and preserving the colorful and proud traditions of Boy Scouting, Girl Scouting and Camp Fire, this museum features a vast exhibition of memorabilia from these organizations.
Seneca Historical Guild (view ad)
431 N. Main Street
Starved Rock State Park Visitors Center
Rt. 178 & 71
Visit the state-of-the-art Visitors Center to learn about trails, wildlife, vegetation and history of Starved Rock State Park. You will find interactive displays, fish from the Illinois River, historical artifacts, a wigwam,
informational movie and much more.
Streatorland Historical Society Museum
306 Vermilion Street
Nineteenth century clothing, a music room, local products and photographs depict the history of Streator and Streatorland natives.
The Westclox Museum (view ad)
312 5th Street
The historic Westclox factory has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Know primarily as a clock-and-watch making company, this newly open museum portrays its fascinating history.
Union Dept. Railroad Museum
783 Main Street
Open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Displays at the Union Depot Railroad Museum include railroad memorabilia, a large model railroad depicting 1940’s railroading in Mendota. Hours of operation are Wednesday-Sunday 12-5.
Landmarks & Historical Sites
Father Marquette Memorial
St. Mary’s Church
303 Division Street
This memorial is dedicated to Father Pere Marquette, devoted missionary and heroic priest explorer, who established the first Christian Mass in the Illinois Territory.
Illinois LST Memorial (Landing Ship Tank)
This granite memorial honors those men and women who built and sailed LSTs during WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The last of the 157 LSTs was launched from Seneca’s shipyard on June 8, 1945. Dedicated in 2005.
I & M Canal Toll Collector’s Building
1221 Columbus Street
Visit the only remaining toll house of the original four located on the I & M Canal. The restored building, built in 1848, houses information from early days of the canal and the city of Ottawa. A replica canal boat is also located at the toll house. For a tour contact the Ottawa Visitor Center.
Illinois River Road (view ad)
Connecting over 100 experiential nature sites, this diverse National Scenic Byway runs along both sides of the breathtaking Illinois River. Considered a “museum without walls”, the byway is sprinkled with natural, archaeological, historical and cultural attractions.
M.J. Hogan Grain Elevator
124 W. Williams
Erected in 1861, this 65-foot tall, 70,000-bushel capacity elevator is one of the oldest remaining grain elevators.
Corner of Jordan & Woodland Oglesby
Memorials include WWI, WWII, Korean War and Vietnam. The park also has a WWI restored cannon, a Vietnam era helicopter, a statue of a sailor and a General Pulaski monument.
Middle Eastern Conflict Wall Memorial
200 Riverside Drive
This granite memorial honors service members killed in the line of duty of any Middle East conflict from 1980 to present. It is one of a kind in the world and is believed to be the first memorial erected during a time of conflict.
Shabbona County Park
East 16th Road, North of Harding
Rachel and Sylvia Hall had a tale to tell their grandchildren! It began with how their family was slaughtered and scalped by Indians in May 1832, and ended with how the teen sisters were released from captivity by the Indians a week later. The Indian Creek Massacre claimed the lives of 16 men, women and children. Rachel and her husband eventually moved back to what is now Shabbona Park, where they erected a monument over the graves of the slain families. Shabbona was the Potawatomi chief whose warning the Indian Creek settlers ignored. He is buried near Morris. The Indian Creek raid drove settlers to Fort Johnston on Ottawa’s south bluff, where they met a fellow from New Salem named Abraham Lincoln, who arrived in late May to join the militia to fight in the Black Hawk War.
Streator Carnegie Public Library
130 South Park Street
Built in 1903, the century old Carnegie Library is unique because of its domed ceiling and large murals by Albert Fuchs. The library is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Washington Square Park
(Lincoln Douglas Debate Site)
Memorial commemorates the location of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate on August 21, 1858, with heroic sized bronze statues complete with a reflecting pond outlined in limestone and fountain.
Wild Bill Hickok State Memorial
This memorial marks the birthplace of the legendary frontier scout and US Marshal “Wild Bill” Hickok.
World War II Canteen Monument
Santa Fe Burlington Northern Depot
Main and N Illinois Streets
This monument honors the hundreds of volunteers who met 1.5 million World War II soldiers and sailors on troop trains at the Santa Fe station, serving them coffee and sandwiches as their trains passed through. Often, it was the first snack and friendly face the troops had seen since their train ride began. The canteen opened less than two years after America’s involvement in the war began, often serving thousands in a day and drawing volunteers from throughout Central Illinois.