Following the Reagan Trail Through Lee & Whiteside Counties
A day-trip through Dixon,Tampico and Fulton
There are many things to see and do while traveling the Reagan Trail and listed below are many ideas to choose from depending on the time of year, the amount of time you have to spend, and your interests.
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, Taste Trail, 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 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. Beautifully 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. The Dixon Historic Center includes: "Dutch" Reagan's restored classroom, President Reagan History Room, original Reagan movie posters and original Ronald Reagan Diplomas.
"Begins the Trail" is the life size bronze statue of Reagan sitting astride the likeness of a palomino horse he rode over60 years ago. It overlooks the beautiful Rock River at the corner of Galena Avenue and River Street as part of the beautiful riverfront project, "Heritage Crossing". 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 to Mexican, Italian and Thai food.
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, Ronald Reagan's 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."
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.