If you're looking for "peace on earth,"
look no further than Siloam Springs State Park. To step into the
park is to walk into a three-dimensional picture of serenity. The
terrain here is a mix of ridges and valleys, topped with a lush
forest of evergreen, oak and hickory trees. The scent of the forest
is that mixture of fresh earth and white pine. It's the smell
candle-makers dream of capturing in paraffin. Nature sings a lullaby
of calm here as well, with the wind in April's new leaves. The
evergreen boughs rustling create the bass line for the melody of
bluebirds and indigo bunting singing sweet songs.
How appropriate in the season of spring
to visit this park full of springs. There are numerous springs to be
spotted on a hike through the woods. Most famous are the Eureka and
Waukesha Springs. In the years after the Civil War, a local
businessman touted their curative value. Quincy Burgesser bottled
the water and claimed it cured ailments ranging from arthritis to
hangovers. That led to construction of a fashionable resort in the
late 1880s. The buildings were torn down over the decades, but the
springhouse has been rebuilt in the last few years. That said, I
must point out, in this age when we understand the threat of
microscopic organisms, we discourage visitors from drinking the
The springs aren't the only water
feature of this park. Fifty years ago, an earthen dam was
constructed across a deep ravine, and a 58-acre lake was created.
Siloam Springs was dedicated as a state park in 1956. Site
superintendent Jim Assell says the lake is the perfect place to
continue my quest for serenity by renting a boat from the
concessionaire. There are fishing boats, canoes and paddle boats. At
its deepest, the lake depth is 43 feet. I saw a fisherman with a
nice string of trout he'd pulled from the lake (five -- the state
limit). He says there are also bluegill, largemouth bass and catfish
Besides the lake and the springs,
people drive hundred of miles to come to this park for the trails
-- 12 miles for hiking and 23 miles for those who ride horseback.
Trails traverse the deep ravines, the narrow ridges and the outcrops
of limestone and sandstone. It's no wonder there are so many
visitors driving into the park pulling horse trailers. There's
nothing like a trail ride through the timber. On horseback, a rider
is just a few feet higher from the ground, and yet that vantage
point is sufficient to provide a whole new perspective on the
terrain. It's a lesson for visitors to remember when Siloam Springs
is a pleasant postcard memory.
May all the trails you travel this
week be happy and peaceful.
P.S. To my friends who are hunters,
don't forget April 29 is the last day to apply for firearm and
muzzleloader deer permits, first lottery.
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The park includes campground with
showers available, seasonal hunting opportunities, and the winter
activities include ice skating. For picnicking, four shelters are
available as well as charcoal grills. Siloam Springs also has
- From Quincy: Take Illinois Route
104 nine miles east to County Road 1200 N. Follow signs 12 miles
to County Road 2873E, then south three miles to park entrance.
- From Springfield: Take Interstate
72 west to Griggsville and go north on Route 107 for 11 miles.
There, turn west on Route104 for 15 miles to County Road 2873E.
Turn north for six miles to park entrance.
- From Peoria: Take U.S. Route 24
to just outside of Clayton. There, turn south on County Road
2950E, then south 10 miles to Kellerville, then west on 1200N one
mile, then to County Road 2873 south for three miles to park
in the parks:
- April 23, Rock Springs
Environmental Center, Decatur -- Festival of Spring, including
canoeing, hiking, the World Birds Show, Celtic music in the stone
ring circle and storytelling
- April 24, Dickson Mounds Museum
-- Songbirds and coffee program
- April 30, Giant City State Park
-- "Wandering Among Wildflowers" hike
- April 30, Wildlife Prairie State
Park -- Wildlife Trail Classic
Department of Natural Resources news release]