For our last excursion, Laurie Palmer led us to the town of Ottawa, where the Fox River pours into the Illinois and US Silica has been mining sand since the 1860s. Today, most of that sand is used for fracking. We looked at an immense hole in the ground, learned the enraging story of the “Radium Girls” who were from Ottawa and met an impressive young local activist named Ashley Williams (and you can bet she won’t be no radium girl). Afterwards, some of us who had the time went on to Buffalo Rock State Park, a former mining site where you can (kind of) see some land art sculpture by Michael Heizer. Finally around sunset we arrived at the town of La Salle-Peru, where the I&M Canal’s last lock can still be seen, just before the canal itself merges into the Illinois River. After a month of intense, friendly, tragic, funny and still uncompleted trips out on the Southwest Corridor – well, it seems to be about time to find a new beginning.
Laurie’s flyer is here