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Dave Dickey & Todd Gleason
by Todd E. Gleason
Todd E. Gleason
I love out of the way places to travel and explore. A blacktop (a rural road) is one of my favorite things in all the world. They look the same just about everywhere I've ever been, but always hold a surprise or two. If you play your cards right you'll find something of interest and a great place to eat. Coming straight south from East Peoria, Illinois is a great road.
This one is wider than usual, and even has a name on the map, Springfield Road. There are many treats to see. If you are a "Lord of the Rings" fan you'll love the hobbit hole along the west side of the road. It sits there with a perfectly round door, just like those in the shire.
Once you drop down the mountain of a hill - for central Illinois - pass all the white fences, and mount the other side of the little valley, keep your eyes open for a pair of pines on the east side of the road (see the red pin on the map along Springfield Road). Hunkered down in those pines is a rock and plaque.
I think only those that have knelt upon the earth, filled their lungs with its sweet fragrance, and reached into it searching for a kernel of corn, can truly appreciate the rock and the acreage.
It is the birthplace of yellow dent corn. This is the place where a poor stand prompted Robert Reid to intra-seed a second open pollinated variety hoping for a good nick. It worked, and over the next forty years Reid and his son James diligently developed the new yellow dent corn variety. Eventually, it became the primary parent line behind nearly all modern corn hybrids.
If you farm, this is a sacred place to visit.
Given that, I doubt it is a sacred place for the rest of the people in the vehicle. They'll need another reason. I would suggest the Harvest Cafe in Delavan. Bring your wallet, but do plan to have a magnificent meal in one of the most luxurious little spaces in rural route Illinois.