Farnsworth House

In April of 2001, when the state of Illinois was considering the purchase of the Farnsworth House and the 62 acres of land it sits on along the Fox River, I wrote a letter and sent it to damn near everyone I knew at the time that had anything to do with conservation, along with sending it to the Letters sections of all the papers.

I knew that in 1996, when the Fox had a 100 year flood event, it inundated the Farnsworth House and it cost $250K to restore it. As the infamous WGN radio host Spike O’Dell said at the time of the 1996 floods… “What did you think was going to happen when you paved everything over, water’s gotta go somewhere.”

I had studied architecture and knew all about Mies and the historic significance of the house, why it was built the way it is and why it’s located where it is… and none of that mattered to me.

Apparently I made that quite clear in part of the letter I wrote back then.

Common sense dictates that you don’t build homes in floodplains.

I think the emphasis on why the State of Illinois should purchase the Farnsworth property needs to be reevaluated. The purchase of the house would include 62 acres of land that borders the Fox River. The land alone, with or without the inclusion of the house, should be purchased by the state.
The Farnsworth property is next to, and across the river from, Silver Springs State Park. Adding the 62 acres to Silver Springs would protect a beautiful stretch of the Fox River from development, and guarantee public access to a body of water that is quickly becoming surrounded by private property.
As for the house, if it is included in the purchase, it should be moved further back on the floodplain. I don’t think moving it will have any effect on its architectural integrity. In the long run, the move will save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair bills as the house will no longer get damaged by floods.

The picture at the top of this post is from April of 2013, never did bother looking into what it cost to repair it that time. I know there was another high water event just a few years earlier. Those pesky 100 year high water events decided to almost become a regular feature of the river.

I distinctly recall having a conversation about this back then and suggested moving the house to the edge of the cornfield up the hill to the north and east of where it now sits.

Flash forward 14 years to an article that was in the Tribune’s Beacon News on June 19, 2015:

Trust considers moving Mies van der Rohe home on the Fox River

One of the three options being considered is what I suggested 14 years ago.

Ultimately this has nothing to do with the Farnsworth House, the legacy of Mies van der Rohe or whether or not you like glass and steel buildings. I think the world could do just fine with a little less glass and steel.

For me it became a revelation as to why I get bored and disinterested with “issues” so quickly. I have no clue why my brain draws conclusions as quickly as it does, but for many years I’ve felt compelled to share these conclusions with others only to have them met with disinterest and ridicule.

Which is why I now consciously avoid saying much of anything regarding issues.

Yet here it is 14 years and at least two damaging flood events later, someone came up with the brilliant idea that maybe this building should be moved out of the way some how.

Well, there’s a novel idea.

Maybe by the time it gets out of committee and I happen to live to be 90, I’ll see it happen.

But I’m not banking on it.

In the mean time I think an opportunity is being missed.

I hear that on a nice, bright, sunny day the Farnsworth House turns into the world’s largest convection oven.

Imagine the cook offs that could be done.

Maybe this is what Mies intended for the Farnsworth House all along.


Filamentous Algae is back with a Vengeance

The filamentous algae is back with a vengeance starting at the Montgomery crap plant on the Fox River.

In October of 2012 I put up a long post called Consider this Source. Over the course of two years, I documented the filamentous algae issues that were out of control from the Montgomery crap plant to at least Yorkville.

I sent a link to that post to as many people I could think of that has anything to do with Fox River conservation issues. I have no clue if what I did had any impact, nobody ever bothered responding to me. What I do know is that in 2013 and 2014 the algae never reappeared.

That has changed, the algae is back.



That tells me that the Montgomery crap plant is screwing around with the nitrate levels they release again. I believe that’s what happened last time.

Right now the algae is only in the clear water coming from the plant. When you get to the edge of the plant outflow where it runs along in the river, the algae stops in a very distinct line.

I already know what’s going to happen. By the time the outflow water gets to Oswego, it mixes with all of the other river water. Pretty much starting from the Route 34 bridge down for as far as you want to walk in the river, the algae will start to clog the whole river again. That happened last time, there’s no reason it won’t happen again.



I’m hoping those in conservation groups up and down the Fox River will see this. I’m hoping those that read this will pass it along to groups they might know. This has to stop. Before 2010, it never happened. It was gone again in 2013-14. All anyone has to do is go stand at the beginning of the outflow of the crap plant, look down stream and the source of all this algae is slapping you in the face.

And, while your at it, ask them about the pictures below.

I fished along the crap plant on April 5th and came across this.


They had just gone through and cut down all the brush between their fence and the river’s edge. Rather than remove it, they let it lay down along the bank and into the river. I’m assuming they figured that the usual spring high water would take it all down stream somewhere.

We never got very high water and today, June 13th, the brush still sits along the bank and in the river.


I would imagine there’s a law against doing this.

Or there should be.

Did a Death March

Did a death march on a creek on Saturday to see if that’s what was needed to keep from getting bored with fishing.

Almost worked.

Took a left where I thought I was supposed to take a left, but that was a year ago. Left was gone and now it was a stumble down a long hill, through two swamps, careening off trees, bumping my head on low branches, tripping over logs buried in chest high grass and finally arriving at the creek.

Later I would see two deer playing catch me if you can and running through the woods at an unbelievable pace. 150 feet up stream, the same stream I just stumbled down while twisting ankles, they came leaping out of the woods, into the creek, flew across it and disappeared on the other side.

I believe I said loud enough for them to hear me… fuck you.

Well, anyway, back at the creek arrival, now sweating profusely, figured I may as well empty the bladder and refill it with some fresh water. Standing there, patiently, I look down and see what’s below off to the side, a single ray of light through dense trees highlighting it perfectly.

As if it was asking to be found.


The scenery was stunning, the wading brutal, caught 7 smallies which is pathetic and decided to go home afterward rather than try another spot.

Like I said, almost worked.


A Subtle Sunset

Friday after work I was going to stop at a creek to do some fishing. Just like Thursday and Monday, at the last minute I changed my mind and didn’t bother going.

Not sure what that means and it has the wife thoroughly confused.

It was a perfect evening for creek fishing. Heat was just right, the right amount of massive cumulus clouds were drifting around and the water levels were perfect.

Instead I went home, had dinner.

I then decided that with all these clouds around the sky was setting up for stunning sunset.

As I drove west to a spot I like, all the cumulus clouds moved out and were replaced by a low gray mass of clouds that stretched for as far as you could see. I decided to wait them out. They moved in quickly, perhaps they’ll move out just as quickly and I could salvage the sunset.

That never happened, but off on the horizon was a thin opening that was making an effort to grow. If it opened up big enough and the sun went down at the right moment, it could light up the whole sky.

That never happened either and I wound up with a subtle sunset.

Regardless, I was alone, which was needed. The only sounds were those of the fields, woods and wind. Which was desperately needed.

I could live with a subtle sunset.

And that it was. The opening on the horizon kept trying to open up, the sun tried to light up the sky and for a brief moment it looked like it all might come together.

And just like that, in a brief moment, it was gone.