A Tourist In My Own City

by Houndstooth on

Bunny here at the keyboard with a slightly different sort of adventure today.

It was a bit warm this weekend and Mom and Dad went out to do a few things *gasp* without dogs.  I really would have enjoyed seeing Horse Progress Days and the Sugar Creek Arts Festival, and they were both dog-friendly events, but it was pretty hot and I’ll be honest, I really didn’t mind staying home in the air conditioning that much.  Still, I wanted something neat to share with all of you, so I did a little research about the town where we live, because it’s kind of an interesting thing to know.  I talked Morgan and Küster into joining me so that we can be tour guides in our own city, or village, as the case might be.

Our Favorite Ice Cream -- Tales and Tails

Caleri’s — Our Favorite Ice Cream Stop

Our town is called Roanoke and it’s a small village in the middle of the cornfields in Illinois.

It’s true that it’s a small town and not a lot happens here, but it does have a bit of history.  On December 17. 1872, the town was mapped out and lots were put up for sale.  There were fifteen blocks in town and two years later, it officially became a village in the State of Illinois.  The first building was erected by Henry Franz and the first doctor in town was Dr. John, who also sometimes was the coroner.  August 15, 1874 they held the first election for six trustees and they still elect six trustees to this day.

One of the Foot Bridges in Town -- Tales and Tails

One of the Foot Bridges in Town

Like a lot of place in Illinois, there are a lot of coal veins that run under the ground here.  Apparently humans really like that stuff, and so in 1881, they dug the second mine shaft in our state right here.  Miners traveled 480 feet down in the ground to mine the vein that was thirty inches thick.  The longest tunnel ran for about two miles.  They started another shaft going West, but it had more flinty coal and they didn’t want that, so they stopped mining it.  Instead, they used it as a stable for the mules and ponies that worked in the mines.

Apparently, the mules and ponies were pretty popular.  Reports say that the miners babied them and brought them all kinds of treats, mostly apples and candy.  In the summer, they were farmed out, and then returned to the mines in the fall.  A blacksmith named Fred Wolfe used to go down into the mines and shoe them.  They used the mules and ponies there until they got electrical equipment in the mines in 1905.

A Pause at the Grain Elevator -- Tales and Tails

A Pause at the Grain Elevator

A work day in the mines started at 7:00 am and ended at 3:30 pm.  Work started with a blast from the mine whistle every morning.  It ended the same way.  In the evening, if there were three blasts from the mine whistle, it meant that there was work the next day.  One blast meant there was no work.  At it’s hay day, the mine employed 300 men and hoisted 500 tons a day.  It could be dangerous to work there, though, just like in any mine.  I read that in 1906 four men fell 400 feet and died.

Still, the mines did leave behind one of the town’s most famous and remembered landmarks.  It’s called “Jumbo” and it’s dirt from the slag in the coal mines.  I heard that you used to be able to go to the top, but it’s illegal now.  Somebody goes up there, though, because there are different things at the top at different times of year.  Right now a flag flies up there, but there’s a star that lights up on the top at Christmas and a cross at Easter time.  As far as I know, it’s all that’s left behind of the town’s mining days.

A View of Jumbo -- Tales and Tails

A View of Jumbo

While the past of our town is neat history, it’s also like living in a modern day Mayberry.

The town had its own newspaper until just this year.  At first it was called The Roanoke Call, but it changed names several times until it became The Roanoke Review.  I sniffed around, but I couldn’t find out for sure if it has really stopped being published or when that happened.  I know that the office was just a couple of blocks from our house, but now the sign is missing from the door.  The phone number has been disconnected, too.

A Visit to the Museum -- Tales and Tails

A Visit to the Museum

However, we do still have Caleri’s, which even sells ice cream at night in the summer, our own pool in a very lovely park and The Hunziger Museum.  That’s right, there’s a little culture here in town.  On top of that, we have the Roanoke Depot which is a preserved train depot where they now house the art guild.  There was an art show there during the Independence Day festivities last week, but I didn’t get Mom out of the house in time to go and admire it.  It’s a pretty neat place and they’ve done a lot of work on it.  We also have a bank that’s inside an old grain mill, and of course there’s a current grain mill that operates, too.

A Bank in Town -- Tales and Tails

A Bank in Town

So, those are the highlights of life in my little town.  We take our walks through the park and enjoy the slower pace of life in a little town.  It’s a great place to hang your leash and I hope you enjoyed me sharing a little bit of it with you.  I’d love to hear more about where all of you live, too, now that you’ve been tourists in my town.

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  • Nice looking place Bunny. I’m a city boy myself! Deccy x

  • Sue Dyer

    Very nice place. You do have a lot of history.

    Lovely photos of Bunny, Morgan and Kuster.

  • BZ Dogs

    Interesting history! Shame about the paper. I bet the donkeys and mules were happy to not have to go down into the mine again when electricity came 🙂

  • Human Rescues Dog

    Thanks so much for this little tour! What a great idea 🙂

  • I must find out the history of my new little town. I just Googled the population and it’s just under 5,000 people. Although there are another 3,000 down at the beach which is about 3 miles away. We have got a pool but no ice-cream shop … or Sushi shop, Kebab place, pizza place etc etc. Plenty of fish and chip takeaway shops though 🙂

  • Schotzy

    Have wondered where you live Bunny, you mention names of places we see on the signs on the highway. How far is Roanoke from I-80? We’ll wave as we go by this Friday on our way from Iowa to Michigan 🙂

    • Matthew N

      I80 is probably 60 minutes north of us, give or take a few.
      Mr.Taleteller

  • Amy Boyer

    Thanks for a great post, sharing the history of your village. I grew up in the village of Hudson (IL) not terribly far away and also in the cornfields. The homemade ice cream back then was made each summer at the Baptist Church Ice Cream Social. This was before electric ice cream machines, and volunteers took turns manning the cranks to churn the ice cream! Peach was my favorite flavor and still is, but you just can’t get that homemade taste anymore 🙂

  • Sara Blair

    Coal mining must be one of the toughest jobs on earth. I don’t know how they do it.

    Little towns are so cool, and I think most are rich with history!

  • Lori – What Remains Now

    I LOVE this post. You have a great hometown…very interesting. I love small towns. Must be the Midwest girl in me.

  • The last photo looks so much like the place I grew up and the place where we sold our house which was my hometown. We had a feed mill just down the road from us, but no stop light. LOL. I loved that place. Small towns are so cool!

  • Roxy

    Very cool Bunny. I love learning about different places. Would you like to add this to my Travel the blogville world bloghop? It’s perfect!

  • harrispen

    Thanks for sharing you sweet home town with us.

    Millie & Walter

  • Emma

    We have driven through towns like yours before. They always look so cute and friendly. You did a great job with the tour!

  • Casey the Boxer

    That’s a lot for a little town! Thanks for showing us around.

  • ShineJake

    Looks like a nice little old town! I think I’d enjoy living there.

  • Jodi Stone

    It really sounds beautiful. I miss Mayberry. Thanks for the tour Bunny!

  • Pip

    Bunny and Morgan! I am so happy to see you. It’s your old friend, Pip. I’ve been away for awhile, but just wanted to stop by and say hello.

    Your town sounds perfect to me – I mean, it has ice cream, what else do you need?

    Your pal, Pip

  • SlimDoggy

    Thanks for the tour Bunny – you are a good guide. Glad you started off with the food!

  • Oz theTerrier

    Oh Bunny, what a fabulous tour of your town! You make a wonderful tour guide…maybe you should think about hiring yourself out to visitors for extra treats. BOL
    *Cairn cuddles*
    Oz

  • Two French Bulldogs

    Thanks Bunny. We love learning about every buddies city. You are one cool tour guide
    Snorts,
    Benny & Lily

  • genjiscorner

    Who needs the hustle and bustle of the big city. Roanoke sounds like a great place.

  • sage

    What a lovely place to live. Mom grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania (population around 2,000). It brought back fond memories.

  • Beckett Grey Hound

    Great tour Bunny! Mum grew up in a very small community and it always seemed so much more friendly. I’m still wondering about the doctor who worked as a coroner though… Did anyone realize the name of the icecream place sounds a lot like “calories”??

  • My Brown Newfies

    Thanks for the tour! What a lovely town! Sounds just perfect and relaxing with some wonderful history! Love the story of the mines!

  • mycairnterrier

    Love the paths with foot bridges- great looking village!

  • Re Lindahl

    Hi Bunny! I thought I would share some interesting Greyhound history with you that I recently learned about where we live now. My mom was born and raised in Chicago, and I am sure that you know lots of history about that great city. We currently live in Muskegon MI. A few months ago we found out that Greyhound buses got their start here. In 1921
    the first intercity buses, manufactured by Fageol for Safety Coach Lines of Muskegon,
    MI, were introduced. The buses were dubbed “greyhounds” because of their gray paint
    and sleek appearance. Mom really got a kick out of that when she read it.

    Your friend,

    Burr and Lily

  • Jessica Rhae

    Thanks for a peek into your town. The mention of the coal vein made me think of that one town where the coal vein caught fire underneath it. The whole town was evacuated. I think it is still burning today. Glad that is not your town!