Have you been hibernating this winter? Are you looking for a reason to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures? Oregon, Illinois has free activities for the whole family to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, 2017. Whether you are looking for something fun to do indoors or outdoors, you are sure to stumble upon what makes us “Uniquely Oregon!”
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Bring your binoculars to see if you can spot any of the bison that were introduced to the Nachusa Grasslands in October 2014. It has grown from 30 to more than 100 bison and is considered to be one of most genetically pure herds in North America. Original stock came from three western preserves owned by The Nature Conservancy: Lame Johnny Creek Preserve in South Dakota, the Broken Kettle Preserve in Iowa, and the Dunn Ranch in Missouri. The main visitor entrance of the preserve is 2075 Lowden Road, Franklin Grove. There you will find a small parking lot and an information kiosk with maps. A large viewing platform and interpretive center is currently under construction and is expected to be open by September. Grassland hiking is allowed in portions of the Preserve.
Meet at the Heritage Farm Museum on River Road from 9:00am-11:00am for a Free Metal Detecting Day
Although they don’t normally allow metal detecting on forest preserve properties, this will be an exception! The heritage farmhouse is a reconstruction, but some of the barns have been there sense the Wilbur’s first built in 1862. The house attached to the Etnyre Preserve dates back to 1885. Neither area has ever been metal detected. You are likely to find a lot of “junk” metal as well as potential great items! You may keep what you find, with a few exceptions (extremely high value or great historical significance). If you need to borrow a metal detector notify helpers when you register, they will have a few extras. For ages 8 years and up.
Embark on a Free Guided Walk with Returning Migrant Birds at the Jarrett Prairie Center from 9:00am-10:30am
At this time of the year, the woods will be full of birds returning from their winter locations to find nesting sites in the north. Some are just passing through and will only be in area for a short time. It’s a great opportunity to see rare and interesting species, as well as our own more common ones. A newly opened and free indoor interpretive center for prairie habitats is also on site.
Be sure to stop by one of Oregon’s most unique shopping destinations. Conover Square was once a piano factory, but is now an indoor mall with a wide variety of merchants, antiques, amusements, and eateries. It is not to be missed if you’re looking for that next treasure to take home and impress your friends by saying “I found it in Oregon!” And don’t miss the many other vintage, antique, and repurposed shops found in town.
The original early-American corn meal and wheat flour producing mill, constructed in 1847, was the largest and most complete gristmill in Lee County. The reconstructed mill became operational in 1999. For more information call the Grist Mill at 815-456-2718 or the park office. Along with milling demonstrations, the building serves as a visitor center for the natural area. All four levels of the Grist Mill are accessible. Bags of flour ground on site are available for purchase.
Franklin Creek State Natural Area also boasts miles of woodland trails, as well as the largest natural spring in Northern Illinois. The spring can be reached by a paved, ¼ mile long handicapped accessible trail.
Enjoy some of the finest cycling experiences in the Midwest. Ogle County has nine mapped routes to various small communities in Ogle county – all starting at the Historic Depot Trailhead in Oregon, IL. Whether you enjoy flat to rolling countryside, hills, or gravel, you can find something to enjoy. Routes range from 24 to 45 miles in length with points of interest along the way. Then come again on September 23 for TOSOC, (Tour of Scenic Ogle County), an organized fundraiser ride of 30 and 60 miles – which had over 350 participants at its inaugural 2016 event. Forgot your bike? Check out White Pelican – which has hybrid and cruiser bikes for rent.