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September 8, 2018
Peoria, Illinois: City of Sculptures

On our original cruise itinerary, today we would have seen our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Instead, we are currently in Peoria, Illinois.

Peoria is the largest city on the Illinois River and the oldest European settlement in Illinois. Its famous residents include comedian Richard Pryor, former Boston Red Sox Owner Harry Frazee (who traded Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees) and composer Richard Whiting (who wrote “On the Good Ship Lollipop”).

Peoria is a rare port-side dock. This gives us (finally) an opportunity to look at the repair job after the boat’s recent bridge bump.

Other than being a demographic for Broadway-bound shows, there was not much for us to see in Peoria. After yesterday’s marathon excursion (and before another premium excursion tomorrow), we looked forward to a more relaxing day. Gail got up, looked at the weather outside, and announced she had no intention of going far today. The only site she was interested in was visiting a Lincoln statue in town.

We did have one major errand to run. We are already starting to pack things up, and we have accumulated 20 lbs. of books and paper that we decided to ship home. Gail was able to scrounge a box from the purser’s desk. We lugged the thing onto the hop-on hop-off bus, walked four more blocks, and mailed it at the Peoria Post Office.

We discovered that Peoria is renowned for having sculptures all over the city. Who knew? We took our time walking back to the boat, looking at the various sculptures including the Lincoln statue. We avoided the rain, but it sure was windy.

“Lincoln Draws a Line in the Sand.” In 1854, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in Peoria, drawing a line against the extension of slavery. (The line you see is not part of the sculpture. Someone scratched it into the base of the statue.)

The lesser-known sculpture, “Richard Pryor Draws a Line in the Air”

There is another Lincoln sculpture in back of the Peoria Riverfront Museum. “The Return” is temporarily erected for Peoria's bicentennial this year. The 19-ton bronze statue stands a whopping 31 feet tall and shows the president speaking to a modern man who holds the Gettysburg address. People think the man looks like Perry Como.

Also next to the Riverfront Museum is a small Holocaust Memorial. Glass columns shaped like the Star of David hold six million unique buttons, representing the six million victims of the Holocaust.

We thought this sculpture – in the middle of a roundabout – was from the “Stargate SG-1” TV show. Russell leaped accordingly.

This was Gail’s favorite sculpture. Five different tiers depict the history of black slavery and civil rights.

One of the joys of our new itinerary is that local folks have never seen the world’s largest paddlewheel steamboat pass through before. At every port on the Illinois River, people come out to wave at us and take pictures as we depart.

Some of the people and cars who came out to see us off as we departed Havana yesterday. (The three women on the left are sisters from Nebraska who came to Havana for Oktoberfest.)

Tomorrow we will arrive at our last port. On Monday, after 23 days, we will leave the American Queen.


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