The former opinion page editor of the Quad City Times once remarked to me that the Quad Cities (QC) is where the red meets the blue. He meant this under the dearest of endearments where every manner of people created our greater community. The QC is home to many wonders that often go unnoticed and more importantly unappreciated.
People gathered here early in our history, and where we came conflict ensued, and I only mention this to embark upon our rich culture. In 1814, Major (President) Zachary Taylor led a regiment on Credit Island in Davenport to fight perhaps the westernmost engagement of the War of 1812 against an allied Sauk tribe and the British. It is of no coincidence that the name Blackhawk permeates throughout this region.
LeClaire, known as the birthplace of Buffalo Bill Cody, deserves a visit both to the rural homestead with an active buffalo population and to the namesake museum in downtown LeClaire. Along with a huge selection of local historic memorabilia it offers the Lone Star Stern Wheeler, a preserved steamboat from the days when LeClaire, under the shade of the Greetree, was the stop for steamships traversing our wonderful rapids. Just don’t leave LeClaire without stopping by Sneaky Pete’s. By all that mighty, don’t dress up and if you value that precious worm’s spiritual spinning, don’t wear a tie. However, if you inherited that dreadful ‘80s piano tie from your father, then please wear it, just don’t plan to bring it home – intact. Hope you enjoy wine from a mason jar.
For museums of a more cosmopolitan nature, then visits to the Putnam and Figge must lead your to-do list. Both offer permanent, internationally renowned exhibits along with travelling exhibitions that in past included the hugely popular Princess Diana and the Body Worlds exhibits. Smaller venue’s abound from Iowa’s sole Presidential son Herbert Hoover’s Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa to Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois which once housed a Civil War POW camp now a Civil War cemetery and an earthshattering collection of weapon’s and battle gear at the Arsenal museum. Did you know that just down the road from Colonel Davenport’s house on Rock Island Arsenal is Quarter’s One which is the largest residence in America owned by the government after the White House? It’s grand views once housed kings of state and Charles Lindbergh, and it once appeared on Ghost Hunters not that that stubborn ghost ever appears when called. If you like, you can arrange to be wedded on its grounds.
Speaking of famous connections, Davenport is home to the grand Blackhawk hotel where Cary Grant fatefully lived his last moment. Every year we celebrate our own Jazzy son Bix Beiderbecke’s contributions through his namesake festival and world renown seven-mile race. Many local cities still offer annual celebrations, and the Great Mississippi Valley Fair outshines most every other state’s State Fair. Every night it offers top-tiered talent: six nights, five country acts, one rock act. It’s how we swing baby.
Speaking of swinging (NO NOT THAT), the QC is home to a local USADance club that offers monthly dances with lessons and the area is not lacking for professional dance studies for adults and teens alike to learn to swing, waltz, and tango with the greats. And I’m always available for a dance.
Finally, and perhaps best of all, this area throughout Illinois and Iowa offers outstanding outdoor recreation. Check out Maquoketa Caves in Iowa or Starved Rock in Illinois for some really fun day trips. Local parks and recreation facilities spot across landscape like those found on our precious pair of snow leopards at Niabi Zoo.
Most every ethnicity has built a solid foundation calling the QC home and many offer centers to view their local contributions. We have thriving religious groups of all major and most minor affiliations.
This really is where the red meets the blue. But we are all Quad Citians.