Tag Archive | Illinois

2014 Adventures – Happy New Year!

We come to the end of another year of fun and travel and we have made a list of the places we visited and blogged about. We have been to many places.

Adventures in Travel 2014


We hope you have enjoyed traveling with us. We also hope that if you have not officially been following our blog (email notification, Facebook, etc), that you join us officially today.  We get the feeling many of you are reading and not following, I see the evidence in the stats of the posts being read 🙂   Some days we get hundreds of readers. We won’t bite 🙂 Thanks!

My husband Al and myself wish you a Happy New Year and that you join us here for our 2015 adventures.

Happy New Year

Illinois Potpourri

Illinois Trip – Interesting Sights

4-21, 22, 23 – 2014

The destinations on our trip were interesting. Sometimes though, something caught our eye ON THE WAY to each place.  As we got near Chicago, I got a great view of O’Hare Airport from the car window. O'Hare Airport The towns are so close together that usually the best way you know you are passing through another town is the water tower. Here are just a few of them.

Illinois Water tower Collage

Waiting at a stoplight was a car repair shop, with 1/2 a car attached to the wall of the building. :/


The community of Fox Lake was of enough interest to stop for at least 1/2 hour.  They have a Dog and Suds drive-thru, I have been to those in the past near Park Forest.  Near there was also the Fox Lake-Grant Township Area Historical Society and the volunteer fire department.

Dog and Suds Fox Lake Illinois

Fox Lake Historic Society

Fox Lake Fire Memorial

In Mattawa is the historic Adlai Stevenson house. Part of  I-55 is named after him in Chicago.


Near Park Forest in University Park, there was a large art display, too large to see the whole thing. It’s the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park at Governor State University.

University Park sign

Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park

Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park 2

There is more to Illinois than meets the eye.



Home Sweet Homewood – Illinois

Illinois Trip – Day 3 – April 23, 2014

Homewood Illinois sign

Our last destination, Homewood is a village of over 19,000, just 23 miles from Chicago.   What piqued our interest here were the new murals by artist Richard Haas, the same artist who did the mural in Madison back in the 1980’s. We had to see them! See complete listing of mural locations here. It is the largest collection of his murals in one place in the world! Let’s take a look.

Richard Haas Homewood Mural

Richard Haas Mural 2 Homewood

Nelson's Bakery mural Richard Haas Homewood

Dixie Service Garage mural Richard Haas

There were more interesting things to see in Homewood also.  This is the Henry Gottschalk House, built in 1893.  His business in Homewood was brick making, and it was built of his own bricks.  The had “Homewood” stamped on them. Here  is Henry on horseback in front of his brickyard.


Henry Gottschalk House - Homewood, IL

Henry Gottschalk home plaque

Trains are also important here. In addition to freight trains, Amtrak and Metra trains are available.  In fact, I saw a lady running for the Metra which was just arriving 🙂

Late For The Train

The train station itself is a historic, possibly the only Spanish-style one in the Mid-west. They also have a Rail Fan Park here, like Park Forest does.

Homewood Train Station

 On this side is a Illinois Central orange Caboose on display. Also an engine.

Illinois Central Caboose


Illinois Central engine

There is a tunnel underground leading to this train station, there are pictures on  the walls a little more interesting.

Homewood Depot portrait

On the other side is a viewing platform with a great view of all the tracks.

Homewood Rail Fan viewing platform

Train platform view

One of the major roads going through Homewood is the Dixie Highway, and there is a marker downtown in Independence Park.

We had a great visit in Homewood and hope to come back to see more.

Homewood Water tower


Park Forest and Matteson Rail Fan Park

4-22-14 and 4-28-18

This is a brand new attraction in Park Forest and we looked forward to going here.  This is only one of two railroad cloverleaf locations in the country.   This is the only one visible to the general public. The other one is in California. It opened July 28, 2013.  Here is a great video of the arrival and installation of the caboose.

There is not a parking lot here, you can park on nearby North St. though.

Here is a view of the same area from the CN website.

Rail Fan Park in Park Forest

The "J" red caboose

This is the view of the cloverleaf from the platform. It is 35 feet high. This structure allows trains facing East/West to easily change to a North/South orientation.

Rail Cloverleaf

We were there in the early evening during our 2018 visit, 6:15 PM. A Canadian National Train paid us a visit on the cloverleaf, so lucky!

We waved at the Engineer and he waved back!  This train is HUGE, it took over 7 minutes to pass.

There are several signs describing this unique place. Click on each picture to expand for readability.




As you see, Illinois is quite important in the rail industry.  You could also see the nearby Metra platform when you look to the right. One of the trains went by.

Metra train

A large freight train with eight engines also went by in that same area.

We wish we had more time to stay, but we had to continue seeing the other sights in Park Forest. It was a lot of fun and I recommend a visit for any fan of railroads.

Related Sites and Articles

* Park Forest Rail Fan Park

* Roadside America

* Railfan Motels

* Chicago Southland Rail

* Old Plank Road Trail

* St. Louis Post Dispatch

* Shuttletrain Wanderings blog

* What is Railfanning?

* Chicago Southland Interactive Brochure pdf

Coming Home to the Village of Park Forest

Illinois Trip – Day 2 -Park Forest

April 22, 2014

Park Forest sign

Park Forest is my hometown, I grew up here.   My family was here from 1966 (birth) to 1984 and it was a great place to grow up.  It was interesting seeing the changes 30 years after moving to Wisconsin. Park Forest is famous for being the first planned community after WWII.  An early nickname for Park Forest was “GI Town”.  Park Forest was built to address the lack of housing for all the returning vets of the the war. The village  was  ready for residents by 1948.  Enjoy this video showing the early history of Park Forest.

As of the 2010 census, the village had a population of 21,975, which is less than it’s peak of 30,000  in the 1960’s.   Park Forest  earned the “All American City” honor twice. The first time was in 1954 and the second time was 1976, when I was there.  What a time to be be there, when community pride was high.  

Let’s begin our tour of my hometown, right here with the sign at the edge of town at the intersection of Lincoln Highway and Orchard St.  Right across the street from here is another childhood memory of mine, this little structure at the edge of Olympia Fields, for a gated community called Maynegaite Woods.  When I was little I called this a “little castle” and always wanted to go inside.

Maynegaite signMaynegaite Little Castle

The Chinese house across the street.

Park Forest Asian house

We move further down Orchard, on our left is the building where the fire dept.  practice putting out fires.  I knew it as the Jaycee’s Haunted House, where we  went to get scared near Halloween. It is dedicated to Captain Adolph Pfeifer, who  died in the line of duty in 1963.

Park Forest Fire Dept. Training siteCaptain Adolph Pfeifer plaque

On our right is the Aqua Center, the outdoor pool complex where I learned how to swim.  They were getting it ready for summer.  This pool used to have a high dive.

Aqua Center

Aqua Center inside

Next to the Aqua Center is the Park Forest Public Library, where I spent MANY hours all the way through high school.  We had arranged a tour with the Library Director Barbara Osuch, to show us around.  She is very gracious and an asset to a place that was so important in my life.  I was especially impressed by the children’s area, completely revamped and modernized.   One theme has persisted over the years, kites.  When I was 12,  they had a  summer work shop on making kites out of plastic garbage bags and wooden dowels.  We made the kites, then went out to Central Park just outside of the library to fly them.

Park Forest Public Library


Park Forest Library Kid Zone

The view outside these windows facing Orchard USED to be my school, Lakewood. I was a student there from 4th-6th grade.  Here is a picture I took of the school in  1993  before it was torn down to make room for housing. Thanks for the great tour Barbara!

Park Forest Library windowsBarbara Osuch and us

Lakewood School 1993

Back behind the library is the Freedom Hall/Nathan Manilow Theatre, named after one of my town’s founders.  I have attended and even have performed there when I was a kid, tap dance recitals.  It opened in 1976 when I was 10.

Nathan Manilow Theater

Park Forest does not have as many restaurants as it used to have, but this red brick building on Orchard has housed a restaurant as long as I can remember. It has been Dunagains Irish Pub since 2013.

Dunagains Irish Pub

In the 70’s, the restaurant was called “The Country Squire”.  Here is an ad from 1977.

Country Squire Broiler ad 1977

The current business is still owned by the same family but has changed with the times.  They also still serve great food,  we found that out by having lunch there. I had soft tacos and Al had a Reuben.   Friendly staff  made us feel welcome and we would recommend coming here. They also have live music on some evenings.

Dunagains Collage

Lunch at Dunagains

No longer hungry, we continued our tour.  We got to the corner of Orchard and Indianwood, where my childhood Catholic Church resides called St. Irenaeus.  Some of my best memories are here, in the CCD religious program, and helping out at our summer day camp for two weeks every summer during high school.  It was just as beautiful inside, with distinctive stained glass windows.  We attended a Sunday service there in Oct. 2003 during our last visit.  Following are pictures from then.

St. Irenaeus Church St. Irenaeus inside 2003

St. Irenaeus windows

Just past the church on Indianwood  on our right is the bank and post office.  It was “The Bank of Park Forest” when I lived there. We sometimes sold Girl Scout cookies there in the post office. Drive-through on the right.

US Bank in Park Forest

Park Forest Post office

Across from the post office is the new Fire Department building. Also a memorial to fallen comrades.  Also a piece of metal from the World Trade Center.

Park Forest Fire Dept

World Trade Center metal

During my years there my family lived in two townhouses.   Homes are arranged in “courts”.  We visited my first court on Hemlock St. where I lived from birth to age 7.  We had to leave there because they were going to become condos, and they still are.

Hemlock court

This the back of our former apartment, this is a merge from summer 1974 and from this visit. This is my little brother and I, love that Schwinn Pixie bike I had then.

153 Hemlock 1974 and 2014

Our other apartment was on Forest boulevard, we lived there from 1974-1984. here in Court F-2.

Court F-2 Park Forest

We lived here, number 185 on the right.

85 Forest

There are individual trees in this court that I liked even as a kid, they are still here!  Also much larger!

Court F-2 tree 1 - 1986Court F-2 tree 1 - 2014

There are three red bud trees behind our former place, this is comparing 1986 and now.

Court F-2 Three Redbuds 1986Court F-2 Three Redbuds 2014

If you keep following the sidewalk, there once WAS a playground ahead. It is gone now.  Here is a picture I took of it in 1980. The same perspective NOW.

F-2 Park 1980

F-2 Former Park View 2014

On the right side of the picture used to be a road that went next to the park, the road has been gone for more than a decade, but the remnant still exists.  The park would have been left of this view.

Former Sears parking lot

The white structure you see behind the town homes in the top picture is a former landmark of Park Forest, the Tower. It was right next to Western Ave, which leads to Chicago Heights. Here is a better picture of the same tower.  This was 1989.

The Centre Tower 1989

In the middle of the former downtown was a slightly smaller version of this tower, but it had two clocks on it. Of course it was known as the Clock Tower.  It was the center of downtown when I lived there, and near it was (is) a stage for musicians to perform on summer nights.  Here is a newspaper clipping from 1977.  People playing frisbee on the lawn near the tower, this is classic Park Forest! the logo now and in the 1980’s.

Park Forest logo 2014Shop Park Forest sign


Downtown PF by ClockTower

Both of the towers are long gone, this sculpture is now in the approximate place of the clock tower.

Park Forest sculpture

This view is taken from the left side of the top picture, looking across.  On the right used to be a Marshall Fields.  The Marshall Fields building has since been torn down, this was my last photo pf the building. There is now a veteran’s memorial in the center of the picture.

Former Clock Tower view 2014

There are now two murals downtown.   This one is on the other side of the building on the left in above photo.  It is outside the building now occupied by the Tall Grass Arts Association (that used to be a Kresge’s). The second one is close to my Forest  Blvd. court.

Tall Grass Arts Association Building


Park Forest mural

Our visit is nearly over. Please be sure to visit the Park Forest 1950’s Museum, sponsored by the Park Forest Historical Society. It was not open the day we visited unfortunately 😦   The address WAS 141 Forest Blvd.  In 2016 it is at 227 Monee Road, inside St. Mary’s Catholic Church.Park Forest 1950's Museum

Right before leaving town, we stop by Thorn Creek Nature Preserve.  My Girl Scout troop went there a lot, a great day in a forest.

Thorn Creek Nature CenterThorn Creek Nature Center plaque

Another great attraction to visit is the new Rail Fan Park, opened July 28 of 2013. There is a viewing platform with a great view of a rail “clover leaf”, the only such rail juncture visible by the public.

Rail Cloverleaf


Rail Fan Park in Park Forest

We made a full circle, not far from here is where we began our tour.  It was great coming back home to my hometown.


Chicago Heights – Crossroads of the Nation

4-22-14 and 4-28-2018

Chicago Heights and South Chicago Heights

Chicago Heights sign

South Chicago Heights sign

Both are explored here together as we jumped between the two several times while seeking out the points of interest.  Chicago Heights is a city of 30,000.  South Chicago Heights is a village of 4,139.

This is the intersection of historic Chicago Road and Lincoln Highway. On your left, you could just see the President Lincoln display on this corner.

Road to Greatness display

 St. James Hospital, where I was born in 1966.  The hospital is slated to close in 2018 and be torn down.

St. James Hospital

A statue outside of the hospital.

Across the street is a Veteran’s Memorial. I was a patient in the hospital on Nov. 11, 1979.  My room had a view of this memorial.  I was actually there on Veteran’s Day and I saw the ceremony from my window.

Chicago Heights Vet Memorial

On the other corner is the Alex Lopez Park with two interesting monuments.

Alex Lopez Park MonumentAlex Lopez Park monument detail


Ten Commandments Momument

Another monument in South Chicago Heights, marking the site of the home of one of the first settlers in the area, Adam Brown.

Adam Brown marker

Adam Smith marker

Our biggest attraction in South Chicago Heights is the Hi-Way Bakery, THE destination for great pastries and conversation since  1939.  My family got doughnuts from there on Sunday mornings during my childhood.  On April 3, 2004,  John Koester became the new owner.

They are located at:

2633 Chicago Rd, South Chicago Heights, IL 60411
(708) 754-3255

In April 2016, their doughnuts were deemed Chicago’s Best. See video here!

  • Hours: Mon, 5am – 2pm; Tue-Sat, 5am – 4pm; Sun, 6am – 1pm

Hi-Way Bakery

The iconic sign is the original and is in need of repair.  With enough donations,  John hopes to get it restored to its former luster.  This is what it looked like in the past.

Interesting history about the sign,  the pastry chef is speculated to be the daughter of the original owner.  Back then having a woman on a sign portraying such a respected profession was just not done!  They did it though and the sign is a piece of important history in South Chicago Heights.

Hi-Way Bakery sign

Hi-Way Bakery Woman Chef on sign

Inside was warm and welcoming, likewise with the staff. It smelled so good in there!


Hi-Way Bakery inside

We bought a baker’s dozen of fine pastries to take with us.


It was just after Easter and they still had a few lamb cakes left. So cute!

Thanks for the great memories and treats John!

John Koester and us

Our tour continues with a stop at Gaby Iron and Metal, where we brought our recyclables. They are located at 2611 East End Ave. My girl scout troop brought in glass and bottles to raise money for our many activities.

Gaby Iron and Metals

2014 prices

In 1984 they had a neat keychain I still have.

Our last stop was the South Suburban Humane Society. My Girl Scout troop used to volunteer there, often walking the dogs.

South Suburban Humane Society

That concludes our visit to both of the Chicago Heights.  It was good to revisit places I have been, plus see new things as well.

South Chicago Heights Water Tower


Libertyville- The Spirit of Independence

4-21-14 Illinois Trip – Day 1

Libertyville sign

Libertyville is a thriving community of 20,315 in Lake County, Illinois.  As this was a trip down memory lane, our main reason for visiting here was Lambs Farm.  Lambs Farm is a community of 250 developmentally disabled adults with a variety of wonderful shops and a restaurant for the general public.   My first trip here was at age 6 in 1972, so it was time to come back! Here is the town’s history.

Libertyville History Marker

Lambs Farm main barn


Libertyville also has a beautiful historic downtown with many nice shops and buildings. Here is a complete list of services offered.

Downtown Libertyville, IL

Libertyville building

Libertyville American Legion

The centerpiece of downtown is the Ansel B. Cook House, home of the first permanent settler in Libertyville in 1878.

Ansel B. Cook House

 This poem was near the door.

Cook home poem

 The David Adler Cultural Art Center is the pride of Libertyville, housed in the architect’s historic home near Adler Park.

David Adler Cultural Art Center sign David Adler Cultural Center

Just a little south of Libertyville is the Adlai Stevenson home, now a museum.



Adlai Stevenson home

After our day at Lambs Farm, we were hungry and wanted some Chicago flavor. We went to Slott’s Hots, a Libertyville favorite for the last 35 years!

Slott's Hots Collage


We had a great time in Libertyville and hope to return again soon!

Libertyville Downtown