The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Features

July 5, 2012

Couple create bike and hike rest stop

FULTON, Ill. — Sharing a piece of history and nature, while offering a place for visitors to rest, is a main priority for Gene and Jami Smith.

“We were thinking of ways to share our land,” Jami said. “We thought about making a campground and then we started thinking about doing something with the bike trail.”

The couple’s 14.5-acre property in Fulton features a large garden, a creek, several statues, a small cottage, their house and extra land to spare. The two began working on putting in the Great River Bike & Hike Rest Stop on their property along the Great River Trail last year and the stop is officially up and running this summer.

“We have been in love with the gorgeous property or more than 20 years and felt a real obligation to share this truly magical spot with other nature-lovers,” Jami said.

Their property has a rich and unique history. The area was frequented by Native Americans, Arrowheads and flint scrapers many years ago. As local legend goes, the men who murdered Colonel Davenport and stole his silver were caught and hung near the creek.

Later the area became Prospect Park, a popular recreation area for schools, political and business activities. From 1910-1920, a dam was built on the creek that backed up water into natural basins that became small lakes. Providing a romantic spot for young couples, according to Jami.

Gene’s parents Clifford and Ella Smith purchased the property in the 1970s and put in the infrastructure that the couple uses today. Ella renamed the property using a Native American term, “Housatonic: Proud Stream Flowing through the Rocks,” and placed a sign at the gate, which can now be seen at the new rest stop.

Putting in the rest stop for bikers seemed like a natural thing to do with Gene’s interest in biking and the bike trail running right along their property. In 2011, they cut an entrance through the timber from the trail on Kennedy Road and installed a picnic table and lawn furniture. In 2012, they added an information kiosk with bug spray and a cooler with bottled water. Maps and a guest book can also be found at the kiosk.

Metal weather vane spinners constructed by Gene can be seen throughout the rest stop.

“The rest stop is as unique as the history here,” Jami said. “It’s in a beautiful and peaceful wooded spot next to the creek. We just had the urge to share the place. It’s such a cool place. To not share it would just be wrong.”

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