Oglesby and Matthiessen Park, Illinois
Oglesby is a city in LaSalle County, Illinois. The population was 3,647 at the 2000 census. Oglesby is located near the confluence of the Illinois River and the north-flowing Vermilion River
. It was originally called "Portland", due to the cement mined and manufactured in the area that was similar to Portland Cement from England. Renamed in honor of Richard Oglesby, Governor of Illinois.
Today Oglesby finds itself at the hub of the Interstate Highway network with an I-39 interchange in its midst and only a few miles south of the I-39 an I-80 intersection. This has made Oglesby attactive to industry as well as commuters. The interchange has brought commerce, restaurants, and hotels to Oglesby which are used by both highway travelers and tourists heading to the nearby State Parks. Another advantage Oglesby offers is the Illinois Valley Community College located at the western edge of town. IVCC, as it is called, serves the LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam Counties.
To the east lies Matthiessen State Park was named for Frederick William Matthiessen, a prominent industrialist and philanthropist from nearby LaSalle. He originally purchased the land near the end of the 19th Century and developed it as a privately owned park for many years. Mr. Matthiessen employed about 50 people to construct trails, bridges, stairways and check dams. The area was originally referred to as "Deer Park", in reference to the large deer population. The original 176-acre park consisted primarily of a long narrow canyon with a small stream flowing through it. At that time these formations were called "dells", a name that has stayed with the park.
After Matthiessen's death, the park was donated to the State of Illinois, which opened it as a public park. In 1943, the state renamed the park in honor of Matthiessen. Since then, the park has grown to 1,938 acres and includes much of the significant natural areas along the main dell, some former prairie land, and some forest land south of the original park.
Based partially on information supplied by Wikipedia.com and DNR
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