Designed and painted by: G. Byron Peck
William Hervy Lamme Wallace could have begun the practice of law with a Springfield lawyer named Abraham Lincoln. Instead, while traveling to Springfield, he met Ottawan T. Lyle Dickey and established a successful law practice here. Dickey and Wallace were to enjoy a long and close relationship, first as law partners, then as soldiers in the Mexican War, then as father- and son-in-law after Wallace married Dickey’s daughter, Ann. On politics they did not always see eye-to-eye, but when the Civil War came, they were fighting on the same side, The Union.
Even as Wallace was lying wounded on the Shiloh battlefield, his wife was struggling to reach her husband in Tennessee. She was to spend the final moments of Wallace’s life by his bedside.
Wallace, Ann and their daughter Isabelle are shown in the mural created by G. Byron Peck. The faces of several of the soldiers who surround the painted general are Ottawa soldiers. Honored by military historians for withstanding a Confederate onslaught at the Battle of Shiloh, Wallace was nearly forgotten in his adopted hometown until the mural brought him and his heroism to life again. Wallace now lies in a family cemetery on Ottawa’s north bluff, not far from the home he built in 1858. The two-story Gothic Revival-style home known as “The Oaks” is also pictured in the mural. The Wallaces furnished their eight-room house in a handsome fashion with furniture brought west from Boston, Mass. In the late 1930s, the house was made into a state museum, but it was eventually sold to a private owner and its contents, which still included many of Wallace’s personal possessions, were liquidated.
Ann’s father, T. Lyle Dickey, is also buried in the family cemetery. His home, “Valley View” is also located on the north bluff.
T. Lyle Dickey was a respected Ottawa attorney and justice of the Illinois State Supreme Court, as well as a commander in the Union cavalry in the Civil War. He was a circuit court judge from 1848-51, and from 1868 to 1870, served as an assistant U.S. Attorney General, carrying arguments to the
U.S. Supreme Court. From 1875 until his death in 1885, he was a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court. Dickey was a beloved friend of Abraham Lincoln, and their friendship endured despite political differences. Dickey campaigned for Stephen Douglas against Lincoln. During most of his stays in Ottawa, Lincoln was a house guest of the Dickeys.
Pick up a copy of this illustrated guide to “the places, faces and ornamentation of Ottawa” and get ready for a magical history tour! Learn about the people who made Ottawa great and who built Ottawa’s breathtaking and imposing skyline.
Discover the historic treasures that Ottawa has at your own leisure and in the comfort of you own automobile. This tour includes Ottawa’s original town square, the many stunning homes, interesting architecture and breath-talking nature scenery. Click on the link provided to download your copy of the tour or you can go to our down loads page.
The History of Communications mural can be read as a historical timeline starting from left to right, beginning with the arrival of French voyagers in the 1700’s marking the visit of Father Pierre Marquette and explorer Louis Joliet. Their success marked the first communication for the local natives to the outside world.
Next the mural progresses through Walker’s Trading Post. Walker’s was the first building on the north side of the Illinois River. The rivers were an important means of communication as mail and news came via river boat. The scene continues as we see a mail wagon using the stagecoach road. Roads were vital in connecting the areas many villages.
The mural then chugs along to show the mail trains as well as the telegraph lines that followed them. Behind the train, in blue, is one of the first Ottawa Silica Sands factories, a nod to Ottawa being the “Sand Capital of the World”
We then go on to see more modern forms of communication such as telephones, television, radio all the way to the internet and cell phones.
If you look closely you will see scenes from all the other murals in Ottawa. Have fun finding them!
|Now the journey is part of the destination . . . While driving the Illinois River Road, you’ll be immersed in the rich cultural and archaeological history of Native Americans, French explorers, American settlers, and immigrants who were drawn here by the river valley’s abundant natural resources and who built their lives and communities from the land and river. Ottawa is the first of the seven gateways offering spectactular river bluff views, wildlife, history, and many outdoor recreational adventures! Shop our unique boutiques, dine at our locally owned restaurants and experience our history!|
|Ottawa, Illinois is proud to be a participant of the Illinois River Road Geocaching! Geocaching (geo-cashing) is a great outdoor recreational activity that’s similar to a scavenger hunt. You search for a hidden object using clues and GPS (global positioning system) coordinates. It’s incredibly fun, and becoming more and more popular every day. Ottawa is one of the six Gateway communities along the Illinois River Road, including the portal communities of Marseilles and Streator. Visit http://www.illinoisriverroad.org/geocaching.cfm for more details about this great adventure or pick up a log book and guide at the Ottawa Visitors Center.|
|Ever want to see the operation of a lock and dam? Come to Illinois Waterway Visitor Center! Watch impressive towboats of mammoth proportions navigating through the Starved Rock Lock. Plus, view our displays to learn about the modern lock and dam system as well as the historic I & M Canal. Call to inquire about our eagle watching season, history, and educational programs. We offer state approved boating classes free to the public, plus boat safety checks!|
Designed and painted by: Vicki Crone
Two familiar faces peer down at you from the Jefferson School wall. Yes, the guy with yellow feathers and beak, that’s Big Bird! But look over his shoulder at the fellow flying high in an airplane as an alphabet trail sputters behind him.
It’s Bob McGrath, a star of the “Sesame Street” children’s program, author, musician and Ottawa area native. In this mural, Bob is again the star, honored in vivid color for his contribution to children’s education.
Objects in the mural swirl as fast and as far as a child’s imagination! Here you can travel to the East Coast of the United States, or to the universe! Cartoon characters lend a touch of whimsy to the art as real Ottawa children take center-stage singing, dancing, painting, playing make-believe or offering comfort.
Artist Vicki Crone cleverly incorporates the Jefferson School windows into the binoculars and telescope aimed by the visionary characters at you, the passersby, and into the future!
The guild has a membership of 1,000 worldwide. People come from all parts of the globe to study their genealogy in the guild’s library.
Amenities: Ample Parking, Ball Diamonds, Benches, Concessions, Open Space, Pathway Around Park, Play Equipment, Shelters, Soccer Fields, Swimming Pool, Tennis Courts, Washrooms. Restrooms and concessions are available seasonally.
|Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately four miles south of Utica and three miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing|
|Looking for a family fun, weatherproof attraction? Check out Ottawa’s newest MULTI-SPORT INDOOR TRAINING FACILITY! Strengthen your athletic skills in our complete, up-to-date, spacious facility! Softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, football, and more! Offering a large venue for parties, clinics, special events, or just a place to have a good time! Individual and Group Hourly passes available as well as Monthly, Quaterly, Bi-Annual and Annual. Introducing Darsi Callaway’s SWEATSHOP featuring spin, fitness, resistance training classes plus Insane Bootcamp and 5K Group Running Classes AND Don Beebe’s HOUSE OF SPEED. Hours of operation: Monday – Thursday 3pm – 9pm, Friday 3pm – 6pm, Saturday through Sunday 9am – 8pm. Call for prices.|
Artist: Thomas Melvin
As you look at the painting, notice the limestone façade surrounding the painting. This is very much how the front of the bank looked during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
Open Space is a contemporary art gallery and community arts center based in Ottawa, Illinois, right in the heart of Starved Rock Country. We show all Illinois based artists and teach classes to all ages and skill levels. Stop in and see what we’re all about!
The Ottawa Boat Club is a historic landmark located at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers. Founded in 1885 as a nautical rowing and social club, it has remained at its current location of 500 Columbus Street since 1903. The building now provides a unique and elegant space for all types of events, including weddings, reunions, meetings, and more. In addition, the Boat Club’s bar is open to the public on the weekends during the summer months.
Designed and painted by: Gregory Ackers
The Erie or the Panama may have been bigger or longer, but the Illinois and Michigan Canal joins those ambitious public works projects in shaping the region in which it was built. Designed as a vital link in the interstate transportation system, the I&M became the first and most ambitious of the state’s internal improvements.
The canal meant goods and grain could be shipped efficiently and that lumber and supplies vital to the settlement of Ottawa could be transported here. It attracted settlers and land speculators who became some of the area’s leading citizens.
Also attracted by the promise of life in the west were thousands of laborers, mostly Irish immigrants, who built the canal and chose to stay in the area. Their life was a hard one. Begun in 1836 and completed 12 years later just as the railroads were expanding as passenger routes, the canal never reached its full potential. During 75 years of operation, however, it shaped Ottawa and other towns along its route. Now a popular hiking and biking trail, it continues to be a vital part of the region.
A Brush with History public art program was developed to help revitalize Ottawa’s downtown and create a cultural attraction for tourists and residents of the community. The program is sponsored by the Ottawa Visitors Center and overseen by a committee of citizens devoted to public arts. Made possible by a grant through the National Endowment for the Arts and vetted by the Chicago Art Institute, the Brush With History committee has been committed to quality and excellence since the programs inception. Organized in 1993 the first mural became a reality in 2002. To date, eight murals have been completed with a new project scheduled for 2015.
Murals to date have focused on figures or events that shaped Ottawa’s history including local industry, prominent citizens or the creation of a major improvements in the area.
If you are an artist interested in participating in this historical program, or just a citizen wanting to volunteer, please visit the ‘contact us’ portion of this website. The Ottawa Visitors Center will update you on the current project, themes and deadlines.
Please note: The Ottawa Visitor’s Center does not provide transportation. Hop-on Guides provided for your bus or van. Walking tours degree of difficulty-EASY. Our $25 fee is on a per-tour basis, regardless of the size of your group. Must be arranged in advance by selecting the “Group Tour” request form at the top of this page. Length of tour 30-45 min.