By Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger
In the spirit of the 4th of July, and as a trained historian, I thought it would be fun to connect my love of outdoors with some cool historical sites to check out over the holiday week.
While our section of the Mississippi River is known for its natural beauty and trails, those same hills, trails and waterways were once traveled by Native Americans, settlers, French missionaries, soldiers, loggers, steamboat jazz muscians, and frontier businessmen.
The QC is a crossroads of American cultural expansion and growth West.
Arsenal Island, National and Confederate Cemeteries, and Fort Armstrong
Just past the entrance to the island you’ll find the Rock Island National Cemetery. Here we stopped and stepped along the Memorial Walkway.
I highly recommend that you take the time to visit this spot and pay respect to the men and women who have served in our military. It is a somber walk, but also an inspirational one.
Please keep in mind that this is an active National Cemetery and mourners may be present; be courteous and respectful to everyone present.
Further along on the island, on the south side of Rodman Ave, you’ll find the the Rock Island Confederate Cemetery. This is the only remnant of the prison camp that opened in December 1863 and came to hold thousands of Confederate soldiers.
The prisoners who died while imprisoned are now interred here. You can identify Confederate tombstones by virtue of their pointed tops, in contrast to the curved tops on the graves of United States soldiers.
The National Park Service has a wonderful web page on the history of the war camp located on the Aresenal. Check it out.
If you’re still on Arsenal Island, you can also consider visiting Memorial Park and checking out the Memorial Field Guns before leaving the island. There are a number of tanks, howitzers, and guns on display here. My favorite is the atomic cannon, which was capable of firing nuclear shells in addition to conventional artillery.
You can also consider visiting the Rock Island Arsenal Museum while on the island. Just remember that you will need to bring identification and get a visitor’s pass, as this is an active U.S. Army facility.
Fort Armstrong is another cool lookout point on the west side of the island. Kids love to explore the fort and watch the river and native birds.
This historically accurate replica was rebuilt in the early 20th century to commemorate the establishment of the original Fort in 1816, two years before Illinois became a state!
Black Hawk State Historic Site – Home to Saukenuk Indian Settlement
Off the island you’ll find plenty of history in and around the Quad Cities on both sides of the river.
Heading into Illinois you can stop by Black Hawk State Historic Site, one of my favorite haunts, and check out the marker commemorating the westernmost conflict of the Revolutionary War.
Americans destroyed the village in 1780 because they believed some of the Sauk were friendly to the British.
The entire area was once one of the largest Indian settlements in the United States. Saukenuk was home for the Sauk and Mesquakie (Fox) Tribes in 1730.
The trails are fabulous and family-friendly with wooden bridges and views of the Rock River. Saukenuk was home for the Sauk and Mesquakie (Fox) Tribes in 1730.
Hero Street, Silvis
You can also head over to Silvis and pay a visit to Hero Street.
As of the present day, more than 100 men and women from this street have served in the U.S. Military.
Of these men and women, 6 were killed in action during WWII, and 2 during the Korean War.
These men are commemorated here at Hero Street Park.
In Iowa you can pay a visit to the Soldier’s Monument at 1100 Main St. in Davenport, next to Central High School.
This monument commemorates the 277 men from Scott County who died fighting in the Civil War.
Veterans Memorial Park
You can also pay a visit to Veterans Memorial Park off the river front bike path in Davenport. Though not technically a monument, this park is a lovely place to pay respect to our veterans, whether you’re swinging by on your bike, or visiting the nearby dog park.
This post only scratches the surface of the history here in the Quad Cities. Believe me, it’s everywhere!
I hope you’ll visit some of these spots, but I also hope you’ll share some of your favorite spots with us as well!
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|