Dan D. Outdoors

by Dan Dauw columnist
Dan D Outdoors

R.I. Arsenal Museum

Starting next month the ‘Island’s museum will start a $1.5 million renovation. According to Patrick Allie, the museum’s director, it will allow the museum to better fulfill its mission of educating soldiers, civilians and the public about the Rock Island Arsenal and its commands. I see good and bad. The good is it does need some modernization and renovation. We were there for a meeting in 2019 and I still enjoyed looking at all the firearms and military items. According to a U.S. Army Sustainment Command News Release earlier this month, the artifacts on site will be reduced as part of the Army’s collection reform efforts. The artifacts will be relocated to other Army museums or storage facilities. The “bad,” in my opinion, is if so many of the historical items are sent elsewhere will it lose its militaria educational value? I am sure after the dust settles, about a 1 ½ years from now, it will look nice. Hopefully, they can retain as many former military firearms and militaria as possible.

The Vacant Chair

In 1861, a young Civil War soldier was killed at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Virginia. Afterwards, when his family would sit down for their evening supper, one chair was left vacant. That inspired Henry S. Washburn to write a poem about the grief the soldier’s family went through. At the time, the poem turned into a song written by George F. Grout. There are many singers who have since recorded the haunting song. My favorite rendition was recorded by Kathy Mattea. To listen to the song, you can go on the internet and type in, “The Vacant Chair.” War or not, many of us have experienced that “Vacant Chair” scenario and it is not easy to accept.

Fighting Illini

I hope they can go all the way to the big dance in April. Guard Ayo Dosunmu is a blast to watch. Such speed in his offense is amazing. If the team can feed the ball more to the giant, Kofi Cockburn, and “if” he doesn’t get into foul trouble, the team should go the full route. It’s the “ifs” I’m concerned about.

Spring Fishing

As the days get warmer and the water temperatures rise, get ready for some good fishing. Usually when the water temps start around 50 degrees, Mr. Whiskers start to feed up. Bass and panfish before that and don’t forget trout. The Illinois Spring Trout season starts the first Saturday of April. At Moline’s Prospect Lagoon the opening day start time is 5 a.m. and at the Hennepin Canal Parkway, Sheffield, IL, 6 a.m.

Bison Bridge

If anyone on this planet can turn the “old” I-80 bridge into a Bison Bridge and a National Park Area it is Chad Pregracke. I hope you saw his presentation on the internet last Thursday, March 18th. There will be several millions of dollars spent on IL and IA studies concerning the proposed new bridge. As he said in his presentation, it is time to think way outside of the box. He proposes not tearing down the old bridge, but converting it to a very “green” bike path/walkway and an enclosed grassy area for a few buffalo to roam. The Deere & Company helped with an excellent video explaining some ideas on the project. Of course, there would still be a new bridge built closer to the “Bison Bridge.” Yes, there are lots of hurdles to overcome especially funding. Still, the project would be a huge shot in the arm for tourism. Over 40,000 vehicles a day travel over that bridge. Chad Pregracke and all his resources can make it happen.

Humor

For those weddings cancelled due to Covid-19. God is giving you a second chance to think about it. Someday, 2020 will be the catch-phrase for everything messed up. For example, “How is your day?” “Ugh! A total 2020!”