Illinois River Road Report: Lewistown and Havana

By Beau Ebenezer

June 17, 2014 Updated Jun 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM CDT

LEWISTOWN, Ill. -- We continue to make our way to the hottest tourist spots this summer in our "Illinois River Road Report".

This week, News 25's Beau Ebenezer makes his next stop at the jewel of the Illinois River.

This week's road trip is full of surprises as we head south to the city of Lewistown.

The newly restored floodplain known as the Nature Conservancy's Emiquon Preserve is a true gem for Illinois River Road travelers.

Within just minutes of pulling into the site, we came across a special treat.

"We ended up finding a painted turtle that was laying eggs in the dirt," said Emiquon visitor, Jennifer McDaniel. "We watched her dig her hole and she laid 12 eggs. We counted each one. Now she has buried the eggs. It's the coolest thing I've seen in about three weeks."

This place isn't just friendly to its wildlife.

Visitors can boat and fish on the site's two lakes with a permit.

For bird-watchers, more than 250 species of birds make Emiquon the ultimate vacation spot.

"It's great for anybody who likes nature and wants a place to look at beautiful things and listen," said bird watcher, Judy Groskind. "It is a wonderful place to listen. There are so many sounds out here."

You can't leave town before stopping by a major on-site archaeological museum.

Dickson Mounds Museum takes you through the Native American history in the Illinois River Valley.

They have excavated more than 20-million artifacts from the surrounding land.

The best part is that their research continues today.

"When they come here to Dickson Mounds Museum, they basically step into the past," said museum curator, Alan Harn. "What they are going to learn is the previous 10-thousand years or so of man's life on this place."

Last but not least, we continue south to the city of Havana.

Here you can get a scenic look of their Riverfront Park.

But what really makes Havana stand-out is a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge.

The Chautauqua Wildlife Refuge is just one of two national wildlife refuges on the Illinois River Road.

It is a sanctuary for song birds in the summer, migrating waterfowl in the spring and fall, and eagles in the winter.

Also, make sure you don't miss some of the wildlife on the refuge's Nature Trail that overlooks the lake.

So next time you're looking for a place to go, just take a ride with us on the Illinois River Road.

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