Our local community of Ottawa is a small city nestled within some of the most beautiful geography in the entire state. With the Illinois River winding through, much of this city’s history has a connection to the water.
The city was incorporated in 1853 as a canal town, and many businesses set up shop using the canal to transport pianos, buggies, farm equipment and marble. Ottawa also became popular on the political front, hosting the first debate between presidential candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. During the abolitionist movement, Ottawa was a well-known stop on the Underground Railroad, with as many as 13 escaping slaves staying at the John Hossack House on Prospect Street. This house is a private residence and not open to tours, but you can drive by to see it standing proud.
One of Ottawa’s biggest historical events occurred in 1910 when William Dickson Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America. You can visit the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum at 1100 Canal Street in Ottawa to see an extensive collection of Boy Scouting displays. Some contain items more than 100 years old. Boyce also founded the Lone Scouts of America, an offshoot of the Boy Scouts for boys who didn’t have access to local Boy Scout troops or who were unable to participate in regular meetings.
When driving through Ottawa, you will see many historic buildings. One to stop and visit is the Reddick Mansion at 100 West Lafayette St. On your tour you’ll learn about the Reddick family, as well as the interest William Reddick had in promoting education. He was an advocate for the free public school system and was behind the first library in Ottawa, which was housed in the mansion upon his death.
All of these historical connections and many more are just a short drive from Heritage Harbor Ottawa. Be sure to plan a weekend visit to learn more about the community.