Tag Archives: yorkville

Things to do, Places to go

If you’re looking for things to do, places to go, first off, this coming weekend, September 22nd and 23rd:

Northern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days

Our FREE family-fun event serves to educate our communities with the knowledge, safety skills, and experiences gained through the Outdoors. Sharing the experiences that make our sporting way of life a special privilege is quite possibly the most important thing we can do. Providing our role in history as conservationists is the way to carry on what Outdoorsmen and Women have fought for, for over 100 years to ensure our lands will continue to be in good hands.

We are dedicated to enhancing the outdoor experience for future generations by enjoying the recreational opportunities and symbiotic relationship to humanity that the outdoors provides.

I’ve been going to this event with my kids for at least 15 years. I highly recommend it. I’ll be manning the booth for Heartland Outdoors, so stop by if you get a chance.

In order to survive as a freelance graphic artist, I have no choice but to rely on Chicago and it’s suburbs. That’s where those kinds of jobs are. In order to get to them, I have to drive north and east to get out of Yorkville. (You know where Aurora is? I’m 15 miles southwest of there).

I bitch and moan about it all the time, it can be a chore getting out of town. But living on the edge of civilization has it’s benefits. On a really clear night I can just make out the Milky Way directly over my house. The wild turkey wander down my street every morning. I have more birds in my neighborhood than I can identify. A great horned owl likes to roost in the tree outside my bedroom window and pretty soon, drifting over the Fox River a couple of blocks away, the bald eagles should show up.

To go north and east to the main roads, I drive back roads. Through huge tracts of corn and soybean fields.

Today I saw the first of the corn fields being harvested.

Fall is here whether we’re ready or not.

I’ll bet that if you’ve ever come hear to read anything, you’ve never looked at the column on the right. It’s not long lists, but you will find things to do and places to go, only they’ll have nothing to do with movies, restaurants, plays or anything that requires being indoors. They are all about the outdoors, enjoying and exploring them.

And that’s what you should be doing for the next six weeks. At least.

The weather has finally cooled down, making it worth getting out and wandering around. Each of the links to the right will have plenty of info on where to go to enjoy this fall season. Each of those links has even more links with still more resources.

The possibilities are endless and the fall season is too short.

You’ll notice that the bulk of the links take you to places within an hour drive of Chicago or one of it’s suburbs. As much as I like Galena and the Mississippi Palisades, they’re a good three hours away and with gas prices the way they are, why drive for three hours when one hour will get you to some very beautiful places to watch fall roll in.

My personal favorite would be a canoe trip down the lower stretches of the Fox River out of Ayers Landing. A little further drive, but worth it. If you don’t want to go that distance, you can always come to Yorkville and rent a canoe from Freeman Sports. Take one of the longer trips.

If it’s a hike you want, check out the Kane County Forest Preserve site. Look for the forest preserves along the west side of the Fox River just south of Batavia. A nice easy hike on a paved bike trail and well worth it.

No matter what, no excuses for not getting out. All the info you need is just to your right.

The Weekend from Hell

I’m too exhausted to sit here filling in the captions and blanks with words.

It’s been a long weekend and it really isn’t over yet.

It all started Friday night around 9 PM when the sky gods decided they no longer liked Yorkville.

Then proceeded to try to destroy it.

They didn’t succeed.

The pictures are in chronological order starting right after the storm. The shot of the car with the tree on it is our neighbor. We used to rent that house. She found out why we never parked in that spot.

Never did trust that tree.

The rest of the shots are from all around the house I’m renting now.

It was a mess.

You could imagine when it all started, the power out, us running around in the dark trying to close windows and all this started coming down around us just a few feet away.

The sound was incredible.

Odd part was, we never panicked. I’m sure we did all the wrong things from a safety standpoint and I got yelled at quite a bit when I went outside in the middle of it all just to watch all hell break loose.

I love those moments.

Some pictures, okay, 35 of them, then off to bed. I need sleep desperately.

Oh yeah, the tree in the wires is still sitting there almost 72 hours later.

It’s become the neighborhood sculpture.

My poor grill. It was perfectly seasoned after all these years. It will be awhile before I can afford to replace it.

The Potential for a Train Wreck

Photo above courtesy of Larry Granat. The photo was taken soon after the recent train derailment in Yorkville.

Whether or not fishermen and hunters should be wandering along railroad tracks in order to gain access to where they want to fish and hunt along the Fox River is a discussion that can be had some other day.

Suffice to say that we do it all the time. For the last few years I’ve noticed that we aren’t the only ones doing this. Some of these railroad right-of-ways have been around forever and they make wonderful natural corridors for viewing wildlife.

I’ve noticed others wandering along the tracks looking for birds. Still more are out for a stroll, camera in hand, looking for things to photograph.

Doing this has inherent dangers, but then so does walking down stairs in your house while carrying too much stuff. You can hear the trains coming and it’s simply a matter of getting out of the way. I’ve been doing this for nearly 50 years with no mishaps.

In September of 2010 a train derailed at the bottom of the hill near my house in Yorkville. The train did a pretty good job of tearing up a couple of hundred feet of track.

Keep in mind that this train derailed right where a culvert runs under the tracks. There are numerous ravines all up and down the Fox River and to have culverts under the tracks is pretty common, the ravines all have running water going through them at some point. It took a week or so for everything to get cleaned up after this derailment, there were parts of trains all over the place.

To this day you can walk down there and find bits and pieces of train along with piles of silica sand on the edge of the woods.

The other day, about a mile further west, another train derailed. This has caused a big discussion here in Yorkville about the safety of the tracks running through town. I couldn’t find the date, but not long ago another train derailed just east of Yorkville along these same set of tracks. An article in The Beacon-News written by former Yorkville Mayor Valerie Burd mentions that the recent train derailment occurred after the train cleared a small trestle over a creek.

I find this close proximity to these small creeks when the trains derail interesting.

In August 2009 I was walking down the railroad tracks east of Orchard Road. These are the same set of tracks that eventually run through Yorkville. About 150 yards from Orchard Road is a small ravine that sometimes has water running through it. During heavy rains, sometimes quite a bit of water. It all flows through a culvert that goes under the tracks.

I noticed that there was a good sized hole forming under some of the railroad ties directly over the culvert, the rock was getting washed out. Part of the railroad tracks were sitting on the ties with nothing underneath to support them. Down the hill, even more of the rock was disappearing. You could see further down that the culvert was broken and the water was creating a washout.

This can’t possibly be a good thing. I contacted somebody in Oswego to let them know what I found. I assumed since they were the closest town that they would be the best ones to contact. When I checked back with them a few days later I was told that the information was passed on to Illinois Railway. I figured it was just a matter of time before someone was out there to fix it.

Two and a half years later nothing has been done about the broken culvert or the hole under the railroad ties. Every time I go past there I take a picture of it so I can compare them over time to see if things are getting worse. I walked down there this morning to check it out and it’s still there. The hole was filled with snow so I didn’t bother getting a new picture.

One of the other things I’ve always noticed in this stretch are the condition of the tracks, especially in the stretch between Orchard Road and this culvert. There are quite a few crushed and shattered railroad ties with chunks of them sticking up.

One of the possible reasons given for the most recent derailment was the soft ground under the tracks. I’ve always noticed along this stretch that the railroad ties are sinking into the ground and on wet days when the ground is saturated, mud is all over the place after it comes shooting out from under the railroad ties from the weight of a train.

I have no doubt someone will tell me I shouldn’t be walking along these tracks, even though fishermen and hunters have been doing it for many years. Hopefully, after I’m done being reprimanded, someone will actually go look at the tracks I described. This has to be an accident waiting to happen.

Makes me wonder how many more stretches of these tracks are in this condition.

Maybe Illinois Railway needs to let the rabbit hunters walk their tracks in order to find out.

Footbridge Over Marge Cline Whitewater Course in Yorkville Finally Installed

Back in December 2011, the footbridge that was slated to go over the Marge Cline Whitewater Course at the Bicentennial Riverfront Park in Yorkville, was finally put in place. The first week of January, during one of my many strolls along the Fox River, I noticed that someone had left the gate open for the bridge. I took the open invite to go do some exploring.

I recall reading somewhere that the bridge should make a good vantage point to watch the kayakers play in the course. That it will do.

Someone with a better camera than I have should be able to get some decent photos of them.

I imagine the Geneva Kayak Center, which is located at the head of the whitewater course, will be taking advantage of this.

There’s a foot path that runs the length of the island so you get some pretty nice views of the whole whitewater course. You will have to watch you’re step though, the geese seem to have taken a liking to this little island.

Since anglers are not allowed to fish anywhere near the course, without the bridge in place to get to the man made island that separates the course from the dam, for the last two years there really has been no place for anglers to go. This used to be a pretty popular spot and in years past on one day I recall seeing up to 30 anglers fishing the river between the dam and the Route 47 bridge.

For all of 2011, I don’t think I saw a half dozen anglers in the whole area.

Now that they can get to the island, I don’t think fishing there is going to be all that easy. Before the building of the course and the rebuilding of the dam, the south shoreline was relatively level and rock free. Not any more.

A little further down there’s a very short stretch that I’m sure the anglers will be clearing of all the small rocks so they can plop down their lawn chairs.

The south shoreline of this little island is not going to fit that many anglers though, no matter how many of those little rocks they throw back into the river. Fishing in the whitewater course itself will still be off limits.

I spoke to someone that lives overlooking the dam. Apparently, a few feet out into the river from the south shore of the island, is a channel that was created. He thinks its a good five or six feet deep. I know I won’t be going in there to find out. That pretty much guarantees that few will be trying to walk across the river from the island.

It would be a shame if the anglers didn’t return, a few new businesses have opened up on the edge of Bicentennial Riverfront Park (River City Roasters, Creative Kernels and White Water Ice Cream) and it would be nice to see them prosper. Maybe the loss of anglers will be offset by a gain in kayakers.

Back in August of 2011 I wrote about how the north shore of the river here is accessible to anglers. Apparently nobody is passing on that information to the anglers. I think I’ve written about it four times now and this will be the last time. They don’t show up, it will be their loss.

I’ll keep spreading the word to the kayakers to come visit instead.

WGN, Greg Jarrett and The Hometown Voices Tour coming to Yorkville

I already know that most people, after reading that headline, have a blank look on their face as they try to process where Yorkville is located. I get that look all the time when I tell people I live in Yorkville.

I sigh. You know where Aurora is?

Oh sure.

Well, Yorkville is about 14 miles southwest of Aurora.


This coming Friday, November 18, the WGN Hometown Voices Tour hosted by Greg Jarrett will be coming to Yorkville and broadcasting from the Cobblestone Bakery and Bistro. The show starts at 5 a.m. and runs to 8:30 a.m. Click on the following link for the details.

WGN Hometown Voices Tour – Yorkville

My internal alarm clock wakes me up every morning at 5 a.m. Since I’m not working this week and the Cobblestone Bakery and Bistro is a two minute walk from my house, I may have to wander down there to get a cup of coffee, or three, and watch how they do the show for a little while.

I’ve heard Greg’s show enough times to know that he likes to go fishing. Since we’ll be a stones throw from the Fox River, maybe that topic will come up. Maybe I’ll offer to show him a few spots on the Fox next year, I think I know a few.

Either way, should be fun. Something to do other than poking my wife in the ribs at 5 a.m. just to see what happens.

One benefit that might come out of this Hometown Voices Tour is that from now on, when I tell people I live in Yorkville, maybe I’ll get fewer of those blank looks.