Thursday, June 02, 2011

The One & Only Shabbona's Rock

On the way to Starved Rock State Park, we made an impulsive stop at the LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum in Utica, Illinois. That's the kind of impulse I get, anyway. It's a fine little museum, replete with artifacts of local interest, such as items from the clock manufacturer that used to be in Utica, and 19th-century buttons made from shells found in the nearby Illinois River. The museum also sported the kinds of items people, or their heirs, give to such museums, such as a genuine Japanese rifle and bayonet picked up at some point during the Pacific War and brought back to the heart of the Midwest.

The museum building is a handsomely restored sandstone structure that was once a granary and warehouse along the Illinois & Michigan Canal. The building is still on the canal, of course, and as inviting as a stroll along the banks of the canal looked, we didn't do that. I didn't take a picture of the building, either. Instead, I pointed my camera at a large rock in the museum garden.

It's none other than Shabbona's Rock. Only so many rocks have proper names, and this is one. Profoundly obscure, but that's all the more reason to like it. Everybody's heard of Plymouth Rock, the Blarney Stone, the Stone of Scone and so on, but only a select few know Shabbona's Rock.

A plaque near the rock says, in full: This large stone was a favorite resting place of the Indian chief Shabbona, who was renowned as the white man's friend. It was originally located in Ophir Township on the property of Abner Westgate. Chief Shabbona would visit the Westgate homestead for two or three days at a time, but he always stayed out-of-doors. He preferred to eat the food which was offered to him while seated on this rock. After being moved from the Westgate property, this rock was relocated twice more before being donated to the LaSalle County Historical Society in 1969 by Westgate family heirs.

Returning from Starved Rock, I couldn't resist a brief stop at the "Agricultural Crash Monument," which is a few miles outside the town of Norway, Illinois.

It's a vintage '40s passenger plane, from the looks of it, beaten up, positioned nose down, and missing its tail. A helpful sign in front of the pseudo-wreck says, in full: Dedicated to all farmers and ag-related business folks that have lived thru the "Agricultural Crash" of the 1980's. Mervin & Phyllis Eastwold, Norwegian Impl. Co. Nearby there's also a more standard sign, quite weatherworn, advertising the Norwegian Implement Co., which appears to be a going concern in Marseilles, Illinois.

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