Saturday, August 13th 2011
Greetings from Havana!
No, not the Caribbean jewel I visited some 12 years ago! This Havana sits on the banks of the Illinois River and gets it name from an island near the mouth of the Spoon River. Since the island was shaped like the island of Cuba, locals named it Cuba. Locals eventually called their town Havana because they were next to "Cuba Island."
My trip here got an early start when at 12:30 am on Saturday morning I awoke to a sound I have been hearing with increasing regularity. I can only describe it as the low pitched rumbling of an idling locomotive. I have been hearing this sound of late in the mornings, evenings and now, in the middle of the night.
Now awake, I lay in bed listening to the low constant rumbling which varied only as the breeze moved the sound about hillside. About and hour later the rumbling ceased just as suddenly as it started and I lay there in bed, wide awake at 1:30 in the morning. Right then and there I knew it was going to be a long night - and it was. Slooooowly the hours and minutes ticked by and then it was 4:00 AM, time to get up.
So, after only 3 hours of sleep I rose and tried to get myself in the frame of mind needed to organize and finish the last minute packing and then get ready for the first leg of my trip west.
On top of the crappy feeling of only 3 hours sleep I arose to find my web site was down as was my email. I called the web hosting company I use, IX and was told they were under attack from a massive DDOS, a denial-of-service attack. One common method of attack involves saturating the target machine(s), in this case the IX web and email servers, with so many external communications requests, it cannot respond to legitimate traffic, or responds so slowly as to be rendered effectively unavailable. Great. Well, this was out of my hands and all I could do was hope for the best.
Soon, my target departure time had come and gone and at 5:30 Betsy and I had a nearly tearful departure and I rolled up the drive and was on my way West.
As the morning sky slowly became visible I could see it was cloudy and in some places foggy. I drove up 79 and hung a left onto 70 and when I stopped for gas outside of Columbus I was surprised at how cool the morning air was.
I drove in and out of light showers, and occasionally got peeks of blue sky. By the time I was at the Indiana state line the it was nearly cloudless and warming up fast. I rolled across Indiana and miles of corn and soybeans fields. Some of the corn looked like it had been hit with a blow torch, evidence of the spotty rain in this part of the mid-west.
By the time I was on the west side of Indianapolis and now I-74, it was getting quite toasty and the sun was blazing through the drivers side window opening. No A/C for me! I like to smell and feel the air.
As I approached and then entered into the state of Illinois the corn and soybeans completely dominated the landscape. Here, they were lush and deep, dark green. The clear skies had now been replaced with cloud of such beauty and fantastical shapes it was all I could do to keep my eyes on the road. I left the interstate behind when exit 152 finally showed up and now I was on US 136, a two lane rural road which was a very welcome change to the relentless pace of the interstate.
Now, the clouds were thickening and looking ominous. In Tazwell county, I could see dark clouds and rain falling up towards Peoria. When I stopped for a coupla snaps the air was hot, the wind was picking up and soon the rains came. Now close to Havana I was seeing what were no doubt the participants of the antique car and tractor show which was being held on this very day. They were fleeing the storms and heading home with trailers and tractors in tow.
This is about 50 miles west of Havana. The wind turbines we scattered over a wide area unlike the tight, inline rows which deface the ridge tops of West Virginia.
The darkening skies before the storms.
Before I got to Havana I went through four different storms, some with heavy rain. I worried about hail, but thankfully had none.
As I entered Havana, 11.5 hours and 614 miles later the skies and cleared and the weather looked to be improving.
Havana is a small town so I had no problem finding my way down town. I parked and then strolled around for a bit to take a few snaps.
The lay of the land.
Click on the photos below for a larger image.
This is Havana's claim to fame, the old water tower.
The Havana Water Tower is a historic water tower which stands in Havana, Illinois and is the fourth oldest water tower in Illinois. Built in 1889 and designed by F. William Raider, it holds 50,000 gallons and was the town's only water supply until 1962. It was designated an American Water Landmark by the American Water Works Association in 1982 and a Preserved Historic Place by the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. It still operates today.
This entry door at the base of the tower was "secured" by an open pad lock. Very tempting...
As one might expect the tower sits on a rise above the town. The construction in the foreground is from street renovation.
This nice old place was just around the corner from the water tower.
A little the worse for wear and rough around the edges, but still a fine old house. One has to wonder about the fate of a big old place such as this. It would take a lot of money to put this place right and that might not ever happen. In other towns I have seem similar structures boarded up and abandoned.
At Main and Broadway street is the First United Methodist Church - it's entry shaded by a well branched Honey Locust.
I had expected to see a monumental and imposing courthouse but instead found this unassuming brick structure nestled amongst hackberry and ash trees.
The plaque makes note of the fact Lincoln came through this area as he rode the circuit of the Eight Judicial Court between 1847-57.
The local movie house and the Havana National Bank. Harry sure does get around!
Looking up Main Street towards the water tower. Unfortunately many of the old building in the downtown area had been "improved" with ugly awnings, siding and such.
Looking up Main Street. I imaging this place was busy and bustling at one time. But now it looks like a ghost town.
After my tour of downtown I headed down to the river to have a look around. Here is the local Senior Citizens Center. The sign touts it's game room and river view. Nice old building which is still serving the community well.
Havana has a very nice water front park. It is well treed with picnic shelters, bandstand, walking path and several boat launches. I enjoyed walking around the area and taking in the views of the river.
This is looking down river. Grain towers and the power plant which provides electricity for Havana can be seen here.
One of several entrances to the Waterfront Park. The pedestrian walkway allows for nice view of the river
After my walk I located and checked into the Sycamore motor lodge. More later...