Our room was pine, pine, and more pine, as was most of the lodge; fortunately no Pine-Sol smell; that gives me a headache. It was all a bit dark for my tastes, but in the dead of winter (yes, Chicago is more than capable of delivering her share of nasty winters) I imagine it’s very
Warm and cozy was certainly the operative word for the dining room
There was a little more going on at the opposite end of the lodge, where the indoor heated pool was located. The usual cacophony of kids had dived right in, creating their own version of fun and excitement.
The room rates back in 1928, though, were a hot topic at $3 a night for a first class room. For
the cost of a room ($2.90), Chicagoans could secure a round-trip train ticket to Starved Rock, the only means of transportation at the time to this major outpost beyond the big city.
The present day lodge and the cute little cabins adjacent to the lodge were built during the 1930’s under the auspices of the Emergency Conservation Work Act (ECW), more commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which undoubtedly explains the mere $250,000 price tag. Renovations to Starved Rock in 1986-1988, including the new heated pool and improvements to the original structure, racked up a tidy $4 million.
marital status. The men were paid $30 a month with mandatory $25 allotment checks going home to families of the men.
FDR’s peacetime army was credited with renewing the nation’s decimated forests by planting an estimated three billions trees from 1933 to 1942. They were also credited with erecting more than three thousand fire towers (and all those stairs Jimmy and I climbed while hiking Starved Rock). Their efforts in southern Indiana during the Ohio River flood of 1937 saved countless lives as well as property.
It was humbling to discover our forefathers were such a big part of the history behind Starved Rock, including the lodge, gratifying to realize this was not just some behemoth government-run agency diluting our connection as a people to the land and our shared heritage.
The Bottom Line on Starved Rock State Park and Lodge
Verdict: You don’t want to miss one of the “Seven Wonders of Illinois,” at least according to the Illinois Bureau of Tourism and ABC-7 TV in Chicago. While their on-line poll was conducted in 2007, you can’t question the popularity of Starved Rock given its annual two million visitors. In 2012, Starved Rock was voted the winner of the Illinois Fan Favorite on-line poll.
How to Get There: From the Chicago area, take I-294 or I-355 south to I-55. Take I-55 south to I-80. Go west on I-80, 45 miles to Exit #81 (Rt. 178, Utica). Go south (left) 3 miles on Rt. 178 and follow the signs into the Park.
Insider Information: As I indicated earlier, reduced room rates and meals (check out their
website) were a big draw for Jimmy and me during our early April visit. While there was little foliage yet, the trails were also not crowded with scores of hikers. There is much more to offer than hiking, including camping, fishing, horseback riding, canal and trolley tours, guided tours (with a sack lunch included) of the canyons and trails, winter skiing and seasonal festivals. Family pets are welcome, but must be on leashes.
Nearby Food: Aside from dining at the lodge, nearby towns include LaSalle, Ottawa, Utica, Peru, Marseilles, Oglesby and Mendota. The following link is the blog equivalent of a scratch and sniff option for all the yummy food available outside Starved Rock Park.