Historic Methodist Campground in Des Plaines, Illinois

In 1860, members of the Methodist Church began having tent meetings along the Des Plaines River, and after a few years erected hardstand buildings at the site. The small spiritual community grew to 35 acres and contained a large tabernacle, approximately 100 cottages, 30-room hotel, cafe, and even a swimming pool.

I have fond memories of the old Methodist Campground at 1900 E. Algonquin Road. My dad and I would ride bikes along the Forest Preserve trail and venture into the campground for an ice cream or cold soda at the cafe. The camp sometimes hosted Civil War reenactments. I spent two summers at day camp there, and swam in the pool (which was open to the public) on hot days.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Unfortunately, severe flooding in recent years made renting the cabins undesirable, and only 20-30 are currently occupied. Water sometimes rose to the second floor. Heritage House, a cabin built in 1870, is sagging and appears in danger of collapse.

The camp’s core, around the snack shop and old hotel, appears well maintained, but it’s sad to see the state of disrepair in the rest of the camp. A New Age group plans to revitalize the location, but when I passed through last summer, it didn’t look like much progress had been made.


Miss Bellows Falls in Bellows Falls, Vermont

Miss Bellows Falls, at 90 Rockingham Street in Bellows Falls, Vermont, is a 1930s Worcester Lunch Car (#771). It is the only intact example of the barrel-roofed Worcester Diner in Vermont. John Korsak and Frank Willie originally opened the diner in Lowell, Massachusetts as Frankie & Johnny’s, and Francis A. “Frank” Cutler brought the diner to its current location in 1942. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

Diner Resources

Al’s Diner in Chicopee, Massachusetts

Al’s Diner, at 14 Yelle Street in Chicopee, Massachusetts, is one of only two diners in Massachusetts manufactured by Master Diners. It opened as The White Diner in 1959, but in 1962 Al Rubin purchased it and changed its name to Al’s Restaurant. The Mathews family have owned it since 1975. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

Diner Resources

MacIntyre Iron Furnace in Tahawus, New York

The MacIntyre Iron Furnace near Tahawus, New York, a nineteenth century relic, is as interesting as it is remote. It cost a small fortune to build, but only smelted iron for two years before flooding and inefficiency forced it to shut down. It sat for decades like some Mayan ruin deep in the Adirondack Mountains. It is both a testament to American ingenuity and its limits.

Thanks to Open Space Institute efforts, the curious can now view the 166-year-old structure from a safe distance and read colorfully-illustrated interpretive signs explaining how and why it was built and how it operated. It was actually the fourth blast furnace attempted at the site. It fired up in 1854 but after only two years its 2500°F furnace was extinguished forever. More flooding in 1857 destroyed the dams that allowed cargo boats to reach that area.

It took until the Second World War for the U.S. government to fund a railroad to the remote location, where the National Lead Company began mining titanium, originally considered an impurity that made iron mining in the area even more difficult. That mine, at Tahawus, ceased operations in the 1980s. The nineteenth-century blast furnace was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Mosquitoes were out of control when I visited in the summer, so I would recommend coming in early fall, after the first freeze but well before snowfall. You would probably see more of the old equipment with the underbrush dead as well. Signs warn you to stay away from the stone walls, steep drop offs, and rusty equipment. I didn’t see any obvious danger, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. This is a cool site, but not worth injuring yourself, especially when the nearest hospital is so far away.

MacIntyre Iron Furnace is located off Upper Works Road, on the west bank of the Hudson River in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. There is no address or operating hours. Its GPS coordinates are N 44° 04.735 W 074° 03.394. Explore at your own risk!

Miss Florence Diner in Florence, Massachusetts

Miss Florence Diner, at 99 Main Street in Florence, Massachusetts, was manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1941 and originally owned by Maurice and Pauline Alexander. They expanded it into an ‘L’ shape as early as 1949. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. You can’t help loving this audacious sign, which can been seen down Main Street in either direction.

Look for a new diner every Tuesday in 2019! Click to expand photos.

Diner Resources

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois

Established in 1860 by Thomas Bryan, Graceland Cemetery, at 4001 N. Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois, is the city’s premier burial ground. Approximately 45,000 people are interred in these 121 acres, including many of Chicago’s most prominent former citizens, including Cyrus McCormick, George Pullman, John Altgeld, and Allan Pinkerton.

Remnants of the Only Delight

This lovely neoclassical bronze monument is dedicated to department store mogul Marshall Field (1834-1906). Field rose from farmer’s son to wealthiest man in Chicago when he got into the merchandising business and eventually established Marshall Field and Company. Marshall Field and John D. Rockefeller founded the University of Chicago in 1890. The statue of a sitting woman holding oak leaves (symbolizing courage), called “Memory”, was designed by architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French.

In the Hands of Storm

This Granite knight, designed by Lorado Taft and called “Crusader”, commemorates Victor Fremont Lawson (1850-1920), Norwegian-American publisher of the Chicago Daily News. Lawson ran the Daily News for 29 years. His monument is unmarked, except for the epitaph: “Above al things truth beareth away the victory.”

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Woodbourne Theater

Woodbourne Theater
Woodbourne is a small hamlet in Sullivan County, New York, in the Catskill Mountains along the Neversink River. Designed by local architect Abraham H. Okun and Built in 1938, this Art Deco theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Also known as the Center Theatre or Peace Palace, it closed in the 1980s and has sat abandoned ever since.