Quad Cities is an area along the upper Mississippi River that is made up of Rock Island and Moline on the Illinois side and Davenport and Bettendorf on the Iowa side. We stayed at a county park on the Iowa side near Davenport called West Lake Park.
The park has two camping areas - Summit (electric/water) and Park Terrace (full hookups). The older section of Park Terrace has gravel pads whereas the new section had paved pads. Both areas have concrete patios and fairly widely-spaced sites. The park does not take reservations, but we arrived early in the week and fairly early in the day and were able to get a site in Park Terrace in the new section, which also has smaller trees for better satellite reception.
We had no idea the amount of history that encompasses this area! We picked up a booklet that outlines the history of 9 towns in the area and their historic neighborhoods and includes a detailed history of most of the homes and commercial buildings. We tip our hats to those who did all the research to produce this fascinating history of the Quad Cities.
Throughout this area, there is a strong influence of Belgian, Swedish, German, Irish, and Hungarian, as immigrants began arriving in large numbers in the middle of the 19th century. Each group, wanting to escape political conflict, famine, or persecution, brought their own culture, arts, and crafts. African-Americans began arriving before the Civil War, and Mexican immigrants arrived in large numbers during World War I. What a diverse area!
With its location right on the Mississippi River, the Quad Cities became the home to many factories and industries. It was the home to Weyerhauser Corporation (lumber), became known as the Farm Implement Capital of the World, produced exceptionally white lime used in plaster, was home to numerous breweries started by the Germans, featured rail car technology, produced minesweepers and mine cases during World War II, and the production of an astounding variety of ordnance equipment for the U.S. Army.
When we went into Davenport the next day, we parked along the riverfront near a riverboat casino. The river was quite high from previous rains and, although there was no danger of the casino itself flooding since it was on a riverboat, they had sandbags around a portion of their parking lot.
One to three inches of rain were predicted for the next day, and with all the previous rain they had, they were expecting flooding when the river crested a day or two after that. Parts of River Drive were also closed because they were building a temporary levee, and we passed a business where they were filling sandbags and stacking them around the building.
As we mentioned earlier, Iowa is a major manufacturing area for tractors and farm machinery. There used to be several manufacturers in the Quad Cities area, but only John Deere remains because the others have all relocated. John Deere world headquarters are located in Moline, and there are several manufacturing plants nearby.
John Deere was a blacksmith who developed a polished, steel plow in 1838. Previously available cast iron plows had difficulty slicing through the gummy prairie soil. Deere's new plows were quite successful and by 1841, he was manufacturing 75-100 a year in the town of Grand Detour, IL. Deere moved his business to Moline, IA in 1848 and continued expanding his line of farm equipment. We found it interesting that the first shipment of steel out of Pittsburgh in 1850 was purchased by John Deere.
We stopped at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, which has numerous pieces of past and present John Deere equipment on display as well as a movie detailing John Deere history and world-wide operations. There are also numerous interactive displays showing the past, present, and future of American farm life. In the photo below, Paul is checking out one of the tractors on display. He's trying to figure out a way to use it to mow the lawn when we decide to buy another sticks-and-bricks house.
We had no idea so much high-tech equipment was available on today's farm equipment. Combines and harvesters can analyze your crops, calculate yield (not just for the whole harvest, but also for individual areas of the field), and recommend remedial actions to increase yield.
Global positioning systems (GPS) are also available not just to tell you exactly where you are in your field, but to actually guide the equipment so the farmer doesn't even have to steer! Margery is trying to steer the tractor simulator in the photo below to plow straight lines. You can see she is veering off to the left. After a few minutes, the simulator takes over control and shows how the GPS can keep the tractor within a few tenths of an inch of the intended path.
We had read they serve the "best hot fudge in the solar system," and we couldn't just take their word for it. :) Mmm, Mmm, Mmm. Although we haven't been everywhere in the solar system yet, we have to agree the hot fudge is pretty good.
Our hot fudge sundaes hit the spot. With our bellies full we headed back to the motor home to relax and talk about what we were going to do the next day.