Moline and Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa
On the east side of the Mississippi River is Illinois, on the west, Iowa.
Before western expansion, this area was the site of Saukenuk, the largest Indian settlement in North America. In 1789, a young Sauk named Black Hawk looked on as American forces destroyed his village and, years later, he led his people in what became known as the Black Hawk War. "Indian problems" led to the establishment of a fort on Rock Island, which eventually became the country's leading arsenal. As the river slowly opened to boat traffic, small groups of "rapids pilots" began helping travelers navigate the deadly Rock Island Rapids. In 1848 a young inventor/farmer named John Deere opened his first plow-making plant in Moline. Around these three industries, the arsenal, river guiding and John Deere, grew the towns of Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa, and Rock Island and Moline, Illinois.
Here we are – an area with much history and things to see. We rolled in to town on Sunday afternoon and had a full day planned for Monday, our only day to hang out here. So early Monday morning Shelley called John Deere Company as we wanted to take a tour of the harvester manufacturing plant only to be told that no tours were being given until Thursday (what's up with that?) so okay – there is other stuff to do and we were off to see the Buffalo Bill Museum about 15 miles up the road in Le Clair, IA – the city where Bill Cody was born. Museum was supposed to open at 9 AM. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a sign “Closed” will return at 1 PM. So now what to do – guess we will hit the casino for a little while considering we are camping free in their parking lot. Yea – “free camping” – no hookups, a thousand (seriously) bugs, and empty the wallet at the casino – yea – free.
Before I go on – let me address the bug issue. We are camped, well parked, on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi. And it must be the time of year for flying insect hatch because they are everywhere. The car and the RV are covered with them. They kind of look like little moths, but are not moths, and thankfully they don't bite but they are quite annoying. And it is not just at this exact location – we have found them to be everywhere on both sides of the river. We see people running and biking atop the river levies and they have their mouths open – I can only imagine what their teeth look like!
Back to the story – so after loosing our assess, um I mean - after supporting the local economy and ensuring that people stay employed at the casino (they did feed us a “free” lunch) it was back to Buffalo Bill. Arrival time – 1:20 – sign still says will re-open at 1 PM does not say what day or year... Just up the hill from the museum is a micro distillary, (at this point I could use a drink) the Mississippi River Distillary – and they give tours – so we get there just at the end of one tour – next tour 45 minutes. Forget it – on to the other side of the river.
Going to see the Black Hawk museum – closed Monday and Tuesday. At least I found that online before we actually got there.
Rock Island Arsenal – Established 1816 as Fort Armstrong. It is now the largest government owned weapons manufacturing arsenal in the U.S. It is the only active U.S. Army foundry and manufactures ordnance and equipment including artillery, gun mounts, small arms, grenade launchers etc. During the Civil War the Arsenal was a prison camp for captured Confederate prisoners. Opening in December 1863, by the end of that month it housed over 5,000 prisoners. So – of course we want to go to the Museum at the Arsenal – supposed to be a good one. Never could find it. Oh well – next time (like there will be a next time.)
Tomorrow we go North.