Lowden Family/Buddy Rally – August 19-22 – Oregon, IL – Rally Report

The Fair Weather Gods smiled on us again and we had a great weekend. Thirteen member families enjoyed exploring the origins of this small town and the park history. The rally started with a presentation by Dale Hoppe, Directory of the Lorado Taft Campus, affiliated with Northern Illinois University, on the park site. He told us about the ”Eagles’ Nest” art colony which frequented the bluff at the turn of the 20th century and continued for the next fifty years. The Blackhawk Statue was designed by Lorado Taft, a young sculptor, as a tribute to all Native Americans. Dale told us the details of the creation and construction of this 48 foot tall statue, which overlooks the beautiful Rock River valley and its 100 year history. The statue gazes toward Oregon, as if keeping a watchful eye on the community. This artist community had a significant affect on Oregon’s development by adding statues to honor various historical entities.

Friday, many of us toured the 119 year old Ogle County Courthouse following the rededication ceremony. It has been remodeled, but retains the old wooden floors and wood counters. It now houses many county offices. It was built in 1891 and was placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The new courthouse is across the street.

Friday,afternoon many of us visited the 127 year old Chana School Museum. The docent from the School Foundation, told the story of how it was moved from Chana to an Oregon Park in 1998. The school is unusual, being the only two-room wooden school in northern Illinois with this L-shaped configuration. It was cut in half, moved, reassembled and restored using a series of photos as guides and countless hours of volunteer labor. The Chana School was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 2005. The classroom takes one back to the 1880s era (later in many rural communities) complete with old desk, free standing wood burning pot belly stove, and a globe suspended from a cable over the teacher’s desk. The Dixons’ two grandchildren, Lauren and Joe, were delighted to be allowed to pull the long rope that rings the huge bell in the bell tower. It preserves the past, providing a living history with many school artifacts for future generations.

Friday night, we visited Diane, the ‘Butterfly Lady”, for a talk about her hobby of raising Monarch butterflies. She collects eggs and feeds the caterpillars milkweed leaves from her flower garden. It takes just thirty days to complete the life cycle from egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis to the adult Monarch. She releases them, but tags the third or fourth generation. Diane belongs to a National Monarch Organization which supplies tags and keeps track of retrieved butterflies. Her offspring travel to the South, as many of us do, for the winter. They go to several locations in Mexico and just hang out until next spring. Actually, it takes four generations of Monarchs to complete the yearly cycle. No one is completely sure just how the various generations know what they need to do or what senses they use to do it.

Some of us toured on our own the “Conover Square Mall”, formerly the three story piano factory, this is a unique shopping village, where one can browse, shop, view their private museum and enjoy a large model train display.

Saturday morning, Warren Dutton and his wife, Linda, led a caravan to tour the ten statues located in the community. They have lived on five acres only one house away from the park for about 10 years, so there was no need to take the Airstream out of their garage to bring it over to the park. They spent many hours assisting President Carol with the rally and hosted the Saturday evening meal in the lower level of their home.

After the statue tour, we toured the 1908 Carnegie Oregon Public Library, where Linda is a volunteer. A second floor gallery was created at the suggestion of the Eagle’s Nest Art Colony. It is used for public art exhibitions and lectures. Eagle’s Nest Colony founder, Lorado Taft, persuaded fellow artists to donate over fifty works to the Oregon Public Library as a permanent collection. These paintings and sculpture remain in the library gallery to this day. The library needs of the community are changing and plans are in the works for the construction of a new larger library facility on property next to the Post Office. As a retired school teacher, Carol believes a library is a cornerstone in our educational system.

Jake, Warren’s next door neighbor, raises and races homing pigeons. We visited Jake to see his pigeons and loft. He told us of the details of his long standing hobby. He buys champion pigeons for up to $4,000 and then breeds them. The new generation develops the skills to find their way back to their birth home. The breeding pairs are never allowed out of the loft, as they would immediately fly back to their original home. He may race as many as 50 pigeons at a time. The use of pigeons to carry messages has been used for thousands of years. It developed into a hobby in Europe and there are now 700 pigeon clubs in the US with 7,500 members. The cash prizes to the winners, for a large race, can be as high as a million dollars. The winners are determined by the highest average speed of the pigeon to its home. These are not the common pigeons you find around barns and in cities, but are a very special breed. It is still a mystery as to how they do it without the aid of a GPS.

Sunday afternoon, we toured the Ogle County Historical Museum located in the Ruby Nash prairie home which was donated to the foundation upon the death of this long time community school teacher. We enjoyed viewing memorabilia from the Northern Illinois area covering aspects of farming, business, Indian tools, Civil War history, vintage furniture, clothing and household articles.

Food for the weekend was kept fairly simple with: Sloppy Joes, pancakes with sausages, Brats, Italian sweet sausages with peppers, omelets in a bag, pulled pork sandwiches, continental breakfasts, and lots of dishes to pass, provided by the members. Ice cream was served with Dwight’s birthday cake.

This treed Lowden State Park was a perfect setting for a rally, where the members could come together to enjoy a meal, a campfire, conversation, and experience the surrounding areas in Oregon, Illinois.

Link to the July Northern Newsletter:click here

Link to the Region 5 July 2010 Newsletter click here

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