Illinois, Hardin County
river mile 884.5
On this sultry June day, temperature in the 80‘s and humidity high, one might expect the forest to be cool. But, no, this is a Midwestern forest, not a New England or Rocky Mountain one. Leaves damp, bark damp, leaves and branches scattered on the road from the thunderstorms of the past week. Luckily someone from the Forest Service has come by and cut and tossed aside those that might block the road.
The research team doesn’t know why this is called Tower Rock. The road goes steeply up, then down a bluff, but there is no rock to be seen. It’s all trees — all forest. At that, Tower Rock is an excellent place for a remote, isolated retreat, a retreat far more valuable and unexpected here because the surrounding countryside is so mundane. Mundane in the sense of being rural suburbia. Some farms, of corn and soybeans, but more, houses on one acre or five acres or ten acre lots, scrunched up right against the road. Two-room houses of the 1870’s, bungalows from before World War Two, 1960’s suburban ranches, and mobile homes of all descriptions, from the burnt-out travel trailer to the spiffiest new double-wide. Tower Rock is a retreat from all this.
The campground is next to the sandy riverbank. Paddlers and cyclists would have no difficulty reaching it. It is mown lawn shaded by trees, with generous sites. Like most Forest Service campgrounds it has vault toilets and no water or electricity.
Next park: Elizabethtown River-to-river trailhead
Field research June 2018