Saturday, November 22, 2014

I&M Canal NHC at 30: Matthiessen State Park--Dells Area

South of Starved Rock State Park on Illinois Route 178 is Matthiessen State Park, which consists of two units, the Dells Area and the River Area. First we will look at the former.

This post is part of my series celebrating the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor.

This photograph was taken on the drive from Starved Rock to Matthiessen, there were patches of rain the day I visited the parks.

There is a replica 17th century French fort near the parking lot.

As well as a vintage-style cabin.

Matthiessen has canyons, but no where near the 18 that Starved Rock boasts of four miles to the north.
This canyon was formed by a stream that is fed by Deer Park Lake. Dells, by the way, are an old name for rock formations, I imagine that is how the Wisconsin Dells got their name.

Despite that day's rain, the stream was at best a trickle when I visited. As with it's northern neighbor, the rock formations are composed of St. Peter sandstone.

This will be my last Starved Rock comparison, I promise. There was an orange-tinged brook at Lover's Leap, too.

Originally known as Deer Lake Park, it was built and operated by local businessman and philanthropist Frederick William Matthiessen. After he died, the property was donated to the state--it was renamed in his honor in 1943.

There are waterfalls at Matthiessen under wetter conditions. Although even when the stream is at a low level, the Dells Area is not a place for those who aren't sure-footed.

I timed my canal trip on a variety of factors, the likelihood of catching the peak period of the fall colors was one of them. I missed that time by about a week--but that part of October was plagued with rain and clouds.

Away from the canyons there is still much to see.

Time to move on to my next stop.

Next: Matthiessen State Park--River Area

Earlier I&M Canal NHC at 30: posts:

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