Get off the interstates and take IL Hwy 78, IL Hwy 6, or any other back road to Henry County, Illinois, and discover our spiritual, architectural, and some whimsical surprises where you even can leave your mark. It is the destination and journey we in Henry County, Illinois, encourage. Get lost on our back roads, hang out with the locals at a historic local pub, or enjoy casual dining at one of the friendly community restaurants. A few surprises to consider finding on your trip:
Lock Your Love in Orion Orion, Illinois, features the first Midwest location of a fun, trendy, and new idea to lock your love at the “Lovescape Location”located at the back stop fencee in Central Park and sponsored by Main Street Orion. A “Lovescape Location” is an official public fixture where people can lock a padlock in place, symbolically declaring and locking their love forever. In Europe, love padlocks started appearing on bridges, fences, and poles in the early 2000s. The padlocks honoring someone or something have become all the rage in the cities of, Paris, Rome, and Dublin, and even appear on the Great Wall of China!
Osco Graffiti Barn Just north of Andover is the community of Osco and at the corner of Osco Road and 1300th Avenue, you will find a corn crib. Ask locals; they’ll know and point you in the right direction. It’s just not any corn crib; it is a local memorabilia relic. It is changed season to season by the visitors who decorate the corn crib by leaving a signature, a date, or a quote. Take the back roads and make your mark!
Andover Jailhouse Visit the early 1900’s jailhouse located in the outfield of a ball diamond, a true one-of-a-kind featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It housed only one inmate who was arrested for disorderly conduct and drunkenness. Legend has it that the inmate grabbed the cell door, locking the constable and the inmate together in the jail.
St. Mary’s of the Fields Holy Shrine and Rolle Bolle Rosary In Hoopole, St. Mary of the Fields was built in 1883 so that Catholic settlers wouldn’t have to travel too far for Sunday Mass. The most unusual feature of the shrine is a giant outdoor rosary made of rolle bolles and bowling balls, arranged along a “prayer path” in a beautifully landscaped garden. The rosary was installed in 1992; it’s 106 feet long by 65 feet wide and the heart shape honors the “Immaculate Heart of Mary.” The garden also features an Our Lady of Fatima Grotto and a Memorial for the Unborn which is always open.
Woodland Palace A beautiful, quiet setting in Kewanee features nature, history, and the first “green” home in Illinois. Woodland Palace was built by a quirky and eccentric man, Fred Francis who was an artist, poet, inventor, builder, mathematician, engineer, and naturist. This unusual home took thirty-six years to build and was ahead of its time. A windmill powered fans that drew air from 350 feet out of the woods, circulating through the house making it the first air-cooled home in Illinois. It is filled with intricate, hand-carved molding, disappearing windows, and engineering wonders. Visit a home where everything seems to work in harmony.
Bishop Hill An extraordinary architectural archive lies on the western Illinois prairie in Bishop Hill. The Swedish Janssonists settled the area in 1846 and began creating a city devoted to prayer and collective ownership. The first buildings were built in 1847. Only one Greek revival building stands which is Bishop Hill Heritage Association’s Steeple Building. There are seventeen pre-Civil War structures still in use today. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency owns four buildings, the Bishop Hill Heritage Association owns four, and the Bishop Hill Old Settlers owns one building; the remaining buildings are privately owned.
Windy Point Wind turbines dot the American landscape. They certainly dot the countryside in Henry County and two turbines standing gracefully tall serve as the greeters to travelers on Interstate 80 at exit 19 in Geneseo. Enjoy the view and stop at the base of Windy Point to view the storyboard on Geneseo’s “green” story about size, materials, and other fascinating wind turbine facts.
Make your mark, take a picture and share with all your friends on social media, then invite them to stop the next time they are traveling past Geneseo.