Monday, June 27, 2011

Ronald Reagan Trail: Washington, Illinois

When hitchhiking home from Eureka College with his brother Neil, the first town the Dutch encountered was Washington, Illinois in Tazewell County. Washington is a 21st century boomtown, its population has increased 40 percent since 2010. The town, which was founded in 1825, maintains small town values and for now, small town costs, yet it's only 12 miles from Peoria.

But downtown Washington probably doesn't look too much different than it did during the Great Depression--when the Reagans were students at Eureka.

On the right is the town's Civil War monument.

It's hard to believe, but there are just 13 towns in America named Washington. Naming municipalities for presidents has fallen out of fashion, but somewhere among Chicago's sprawl there just has to be a nascent "Reagan, Illinois." If not, I'm sure ever-expanding Texas can fill the empty cowboy boots.

Next: Peoria Heights

UPDATE June 29: I just discovered the Reagan Trail YouTube channel. The fountain in the center of the town figures prominently in the Washington video. I'd like to add hopping in seemed like a great idea at the time--my car's air conditioning failed early in this trip and when I was in Washington, the temperature had soared past 90 degrees.

Earlier posts:

Ronald Reagan Trail: The town of Eureka
Eureka College's Reagan Museum
Returning to Eureka College and the 1982 address
Eureka College
Carl Sandburg
Wyatt Earp

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