Natural Scenic Beauty

The variety in the topography of Rock Island County has made possible scenery of commanding beauty. Early voyagers were impressed with the charm of situation of Rock Island, the splendid island surrounded by the bright waters of the Mississippi and bounded by the outlying bluffs like unto a spacious amphitheatre changing with the seasons from the charm of green clad eminence to russet autumn foliage splashed with vermilion tints and then to snow-clad winter hills. Many chapters have been written of this section. One extract will be sufficient to give an idea of all. Governor Reynolds in his “Life and Times” has this paragraph: “The scenery about Rock Island is not surpassed by any in the whole length of the Mississippi. It seems as though Nature had made an effort in forming this beautiful and picturesque country. Rock Island itself presents a grand and imposing appearance, rising out of the waters of the Mississippi a solid rock with many feet elevation. It is several miles long, and three-fourths of a mile wide. The rocks are covered with a fertile soil. The river washes around its base with a rapid current of pure and limpid water and Rock River, a few miles south, is seen in the distance, forcing its way with great rapidity over the rocky rapids into the Father of Waters. The country around it is interspersed with beautiful groves of timber, which give to the scene a sweetness and a beauty rarely equaled. The blue hills in the distance, directing the course of the river, are seen on the north and the south to rise with gentle slopes from the water to considerable elevations, and the valley between, embracing the river is some miles in extent, presenting a variety of surface and a beauty of landscape never surpassed.” This scenic beauty Rock Island County naturally shares with the part of Iowa lying on the opposite bank of the Mississippi. There is however one location of great natural beauty solely within the boundaries of this county. It is the rugged upland formed on one hand by the bluffs of the Mississippi and on the other by the precipitous bluffs of the Rock River. From countless elevations on this tract there are views of ‘ surpassing beauty. The eye is challenged by striking declivities of solid rock; rests admiringly upon stretches of woods that border winding streams of bright and limpid water and rests peacefully upon widely stretching farmlands marked by hedgerows and clumps of trees. Rising abruptly for a height of two hundred feet above the water level is the eminence known as Black Hawk’s Watch Tower. From the crest of this noble hill a panorama of striking beauty is unrolled before the eye of the visitor. To the west stretches the line of bluffs that overlooks the confluence of the waters of the Mississippi and Rock Rivers. To the southwest one can see the location of Black Hawk’s village. To the south in the foreground lies the town of Milan to which the elevation and distance give picturesqueness. In the immediate foreground are the four channels of Rock River spanned by railroad and wagon bridges, the intervening islands covered with groves of stately elms and between the shimmering and glancing waters hurry over rocky rapids. The neighborhood of the Watch Tower, as it is familiarly known, is rich in Indian legends through its having been the location of one of the largest Indian settlements of the continent from the time when tradition begins. Black Hawk’s Watch Tower takes its name from this Indian chief and great Sac warrior; he having watched from its summit the approach of the troops sent against him by Governor Reynolds at the beginning of the short, sharp and decisive conflict known in history as Black Hawk’s War. The Watch Tower is easily accessible from Rock Island, Moline, Davenport and Milan by electric lines and is visited annually by many thousand tourists and residents of this locality. A handsome inn crowns the elevation and the various attractions of a modern amusement park furnish recreation for the multitude.

 

Early Settlements of Rock Island County 

 

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908