Back February 10, 2011
Trip Ideas

2 Days on the Reagan Trail through Lee & Whiteside Counties

2 Days on the Reagan Trail through Lee & Whiteside Counties
A 2-Day trip visiting Dixon, Tampico, Rock Falls, Sterling, Morrison and Fulton
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Reagan’s parents Jack and Nellie, moved to Dixon in 1920 when Reagan was 9 years old. Dixon is a historic town located on the Rock River and is the Petunia Capital of Illinois. The annual “Petunia Festival” is one of the premier festivals in the state and is held the week prior to and over the 4th of July holiday. Petunias cascade along Galena Avenue and along the bridge decorating the town with pink.  The “Petunia Festival” features a parade, carnival, country concert, fireworks show, runners road race, and other various activities.

The Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home, 816 S. Hennepin Avenue, welcomes visitors from all over the world daily from April through October. The Reagan family resided in the home from 1920-1923, which has been completely restored and decorated with furnishings of the era. Learn about his boyhood and the community that formed his moral values during his formative years. Stroll through the yard where our 40th president played football, worked in the family garden and helped raise rabbits with his older brother, Neil. Visit the Visitor Center and Gift Shop next door which features books, and gifts highlighting the Reagan legacy lifeline

The Victory Arch Memorial has greeted travelers on Galena Avenue since 1919. Also along Galena Avenue is The Wings of Peace and Freedom Park, located at the corner of Galena Avenue & 2nd Street. The park includes a full-size replica of a section of the Berlin Wall and recognizes President Reagan’s efforts to attain peace and freedom.

The Northwest Territory Historic Center is a history research and learning center housed in President Ronald Reagan’s boyhood South Central School and is located on the corner of 5th Street & Hennepin Avenue also known as Reagan Way. The Center includes “Dutch” Reagan’s restored classroom, President Reagan History Room, original Reagan movie posters and original Ronald Reagan DiplomasBeautifully restored with the dedicated support of the townspeople and Reagan colleagues, the Center is proudly affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. The Center houses the Veterans History Project Regional Center, auditorium, research library, changing historical exhibits, art gallery, Walgreen History Room, surround-sound theatre and museum store. 

Along the riverfront  “Heritage Crossing” offers walking paths, a shelter house with picnic space, event space and beautiful views of the Rock River. “Begins the Trail” overlooks the beautiful Rock River and is the life size bronze statue of Reagan sitting astride the likeness of a palomino horse he rode nearly 60 years ago.

Take time to enjoy lunch, whether it’s a relaxing chat with friends or a casual family meal there are so many great restaurants to chose from. Dixon offers everything from fast-food and fine dining venues to Mexican, Italian and Thai food restaurants.

While the Reagan’s lived in Dixon, Ronald Reagan attended Dixon High School where he developed interests in acting, sports, and storytelling. In 1926 his first job was as a lifeguard at the beach on the Rock River located in Lowell Park, 2114 Lowell Park Road.  Reagan saved 77 lives, noting that he notched a mark on a wooden log for every life he saved.

 Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico on February 6, 1911, in an apartment above a bakery, later First Nation Bank, on Main Street. The Reagan’s stayed in Tampico off and on for the next nine years while Jack Reagan worked as a clerk in the Pitney Store. Ronald “Dutch” and his brother Neil “Moon” attended school and enjoyed summer activities such as swimming in the Hennepin Canal and horseback riding. Tours of the apartment, now know as The Ronald Reagan Birthplace, 111 S. Main Street, are offered daily April through December. The restored apartment, featuring the bedroom where the President was born, is decorated in its original 1900’s style and sits on the second floor at the site of the First National Bank which has also been restored. Next door is a gift store and museum of Reagan memorabilia.

Everyone is invited to Ronald Reagan’s Annual Birthday Party, February 6, with tours of his birthplace, Ronald Reagan movies and a cake celebration at the Historical Museum, 119 Main Street.
According to Reagan family legend, when the 40th president was born, his dad ran up the stairs and looked at his newborn son, he quipped, “He looks like a fat little Dutchman. But who knows, he might grow up to be president some day.” Our country’s future leader didn’t think “Ronald” was rugged enough for a young red-blooded American boy and as soon as he could, he asked people to call him “Dutch.” 

Sterling, Rock Falls & Morrison
Although not official stops on the Reagan Trail, the cities of Sterling, Rock Falls & Morrison in Whiteside County offer a delightful side trip on our itinerary because they offer much to the traveler in the way of historic, cultural & shopping attractions.
Historic Attractions:
Dillon Home Museum, 1005 E. 3rd St., Sterling
Sterling/Rock Falls Historical Museum – located in the carriage house at 1005 East 3rd St., Sterling
Hennepin Canal Parkway, 209 Emmons Ave., Rock Falls
Morrison Heritage Museum, 202 East Lincolnway, Morrison
Morrison Covered Bridge, located on Crosby Rd, 1 mile north of Morrison

Although President Reagan never lived in Fulton, it is the hometown of his father, Thomas Reagan and his mother, Nellie Wilson. The young couple was married in the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception.
The authentic Dutch windmill, “De Immigrant”, located at First Street and 10th Avenue, sits on the flood control dike, right in the heart of the city. Your experience continues at the Windmill Cultural Center, 111 10th Avenue.  It houses an extensive collection of 25 European windmills.  The windmills vary in size between three feet and six feet tall.  The windmills are replicas from ten European countries:  Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and The Netherlands.  Informative interpretive materials compliment the windmill collection providing unique information on the products produced by windmills, country of origin, windmill specifications, and the cultural impact of windmills.  The Windmill Cultural Center contains a charming gift shop where visitors can purchase fresh stone-ground flour, Delft pottery, and souvenirs of Fulton.

Visitors are also encouraged to visit the Martin House Museum, 707 10th Avenue. This Civil War era home was donated to the city and now is home to the Fulton Historical Society. The home houses an extensive array of Fulton memorabilia and antiques.

The 1st weekend in May Fulton celebrates their Dutch Heritage during their annual  Dutch Days Festival.  Enjoy Dutch dancing, craft vendors, main stage entertainment, parade, windmill tours, live entertainment and more.  Go to the Fulton Dutch Days Face Book page for details. 


Get ready for a night of nostalgia! #JeffLudin brings his acoustic magic to the Savanna Museum & Cultural Center on Feb 23 at 7:30 pm. Don't miss this chance to hear your favorite tunes from yesteryear & today! 
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#ChocolateRendevous--2/17/24. Bring your sweetheart or bestie out for a night of gourmet appetizers, over 100 different desserts, premium bourbon tastings, and entertainment. ALL of which are included in the price of your ticket. Your ticket includes 3 #free top-shelf drinks, a parking shuttle, and FIREWORKS!
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Shopping in NW Illinois is next level! πŸ’ΌπŸ›οΈ Don't miss out on the best deals and steals in four amazing counties.  #ShoppingNirvana #VisitNWIllinois #BargainHunters #middleofeverything


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