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The two RV Gypsies
at Starved Rock State Park
2668 East 873 Road
Oglesby, Illinois (LaSalle County)
September 19, 2016

USA map showing location of IllinoisIllinois map showing location of Starved Rock

Starved Rock State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Illinois, characterized by the many canyons within its 2,630 acres. Located just southeast of the village of Utica, in Deer Park Township, LaSalle County, Illinois, along the south bank of the Illinois River (a major tributary of the Mississippi River) the park hosts over two million visitors annually, the most for any Illinois state park.

history clipart bookBefore European contact, the area was home to Native Americans, particularly the Kaskaskia who lived in the Grand Village of the Illinois across the river. Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette were the first Europeans recorded as exploring the region, and by 1683, the French had established Fort St. Louis on a large sandstone butte overlooking the river, they called Le Rocher (the Rock). Later after the French had moved on, according to a local legend, a group of Native Americans of the Illinois Confederation (also called Illiniwek or Illini) pursued by the Ottawa and Potawatomi fled to the butte in the late 18th century. In the legend, around 1769 the Ottawa and Potawatomi besieged the butte until all of the Illiniwek had starved, and the butte became known as "Starved Rock". The area around The Rock was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. The park region has been the subject of several archeological studies concerning both native and European settlements, and various other archeological sites associated with the park were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

In the late 19th century, parkland was developed as a vacation resort. The resort was acquired by the State of Illinois in 1911 for a state park, which it remains today. Facilities in the park were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, which have also gained historic designation.

A flood from a melting glacier, approximately 14,000-17,000 years ago led to the topography of the site and its exposed rock canyons. Diverse forest plant life exists in the park and the area supports several wild animal species.

entrance sign to Starved Rock State Park Registered National Historic Landmark

There are various local legends about how Starved Rock got its name. The most popular is a tale of revenge for the assassination of Ottawa leader Pontiac, who was killed in Cahokia on April 20, 1769, by an Illinois Confederation warrior. According to the legend, the Ottawa, along with their allies the Potawatomi, avenged Pontiac's death by attacking a band of Illiniwek along the Illinois River. The Illiniwek climbed to the butte to seek refuge, but their pursuers besieged the rock until the tribe starved to death, thereby giving the place the name "Starved Rock". The legend sometimes maintains, falsely, that this resulted in the complete extermination of the Illiniwek. There is no historical evidence that this siege ever happened. An early written report of the legend was related by Henry Schoolcraft in 1825.

In 1919 Edgar Lee Masters, author of Spoon River Anthology, wrote a poem titled "Starved Rock" in which he voiced a dramatic elegy for the Illini tribe whose tragic death thus gave rise to the name of the dramatic butte overlooking the Illinois River. (Macmillan Company, N.Y., 1919.) Above quotes from

dam at Starved Rock State Park dam at Starved Rock State Park
dam at Starved Rock State Park ducks at Starved Rock State Park
ducks at Starved Rock State Park ducks at Starved Rock State Park

boats in the lock

hiking map

looking across the river at the locks hiking trails map

First the two RV Gypsies walked the 0.3 mile Starved Rock trail. Not much of Starved Rock itself could be seen because the trail is actually on top of Starved Rock.

the top of Started Rock a portion of Starved Rock as seen through the trees
a portion of Starved Rock as seen through the trees

Below: some of many stairs along the trails

some of many stairs along the trails

French Canyon - 0.4 mile hike

French Canyon sign a canyon in French Canyon

Looking down into French Canyon
at the hiker below

a small stream

Looking down into French Canyon a small stream
a small stream a small stream

Campanula Trail

Lee Duquette on Campanula Trail

Looking down at the waterfall far below the lookout.

waterfall waterfall

Wildcat Canyon - 1.0 mile trail

Wildcat Canyon sign waterfall in Wildcat Canyon

From Wildcat Canyon Overlook looking down on the waterfall

waterfall in Wildcat Canyo waterfall in Wildcat Canyo

Pontiac Canyon

Pontiac Canyon sign Pontiac Canyon
Pontiac Canyon Pontiac Canyon

Lovers Leap Overlook 0.7 mile trail

Lovers Leap Overlook Lovers Leap rock
Starved Rock Starved Rock

Plum Island

Plum Island

Eagle Cliff Overlook

Eagle Cliff sign Eagle Cliff Overlook
Eagle Cliff Overlook a snake-like design in a ridge

At this point, the two RV Gypsies had walked in a loop and were back at the dam. They had been hiking for several hours, and had only covered a small portion of Starved Rock State Park, maybe only 4-1/2 miles total. The entire distance of all trails would be 12.3 miles.

dam and Plum Island Plum Island
dam dam

After hiking at Starved Rock State Park, the two RV Gypsies went to the Starved Rock Lodge for dinner. Karen Duquette's food came out cold and rubbery, so she sent it back and it was quickly returned to her in the same condition. So Lee Duquette paid for his meal and they left, never to return.

Starved Rock Lodge
Starved Rock Dining Room

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