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A Publication of WTVP

The Illinois River is a powerful natural resource and an excellent example of the many roles a waterway can play in a community. On any given day you can look out over the river and see millions of dollars in goods being transported up and down the river. What you may not be aware of is the developing tourism industry along the Illinois River which will enhance people’s experience of the nature, history, archaeology and culture right here in our backyard.

In 2005, the Federal Highway Administration designated the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway as one in a collection of 126 nationally recognized scenic roadways across the United States. From LaSalle County south to Mason County, the Byway follows both sides of the Illinois River, primarily along State Routes 26 and 29. Currently, there are seven gateway communities along the Byway, each opening the door to its own “loop” of activity. Each of these loops features numerous cultural, archaeological, historic and nature-based attractions.

Over the next several months, we’ll initiate several exciting projects that will impact Byway communities. Interpretive planning that will reveal and tell the story of the cultural and natural heritage along the river is underway. Other projects include an independent website for travelers to plan their visits, interpretive kiosks at various sites and communities along the Byway and wayfinding signage to be erected along the Byway and its loops.

To launch these new and exciting projects, we will hold a daylong celebration of the Byway on August 29th. Beginning at the northern and southern ends of the Byway, stops are planned at each of the gateway communities to unveil the new Illinois River Road logo and America’s Byways logo that will appear on road signs, with a final stop at the Peoria riverfront for a press conference and reception afterward. Among the guests for this event will be Congressman Ray LaHood, who played an integral role in achieving the Byway’s federal designation.

Our Byway will utilize the Illinois River and other natural assets as a visitor-based economy. The development that will occur will support tourism and economic development. They will also enhance our region’s reputation as a highly livable location for new and existing businesses. Many communities have already begun initiatives to attract visitors to their area. If you haven’t visited the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway recently, I’d invite you to take some time to see the amazing sites right here in your own backyard!

For more information on the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway, the August 29th event or other National Scenic Byways visit www.illinoisriverroad.org or www.byways.org or call Anaise Berry at 309-495-5909. IBI

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