Beginning Location: Pekin, IL
Ending Location: Beardstown, IL
Miles Traveled: 64
Weather: Cloudy with sprinkles
Stayed at: Logsdon Tug Service ($30 to tie up to a barge with a crane on it)
After three fun days in Pekin, we woke up early Tuesday morning to begin one of the longest, loneliest stretches of the trip. The southern half of the Illinois River is not very friendly for pleasure boats. For 150 miles, there are only two possible tie ups and a handful of anchorages for deep draft boats.
We targeted the Logsdon Tug Service in Beardstown as our destination for the night. We’ve had some interesting docking experiences so far on the Illinois, but this one may be the strangest. Beardstown used to have a town dock that welcomed transient boaters. When the dock was washed away in a flood, it was never rebuilt, so Logsdon Tug spotted a business opportunity. Because this is such an empty stretch, boaters are willing to pay $1 per foot to tie up to any barge, tow boat, or whatever else the company has around that day. We tied up to a barge that floated a large crane the company uses to haul tow boats out of the water for repair. It wasn’t elegant, but it was a safe harbor for the night.
We traveled fairly fast (for us) that day and reached Beardstown by 4pm. Our cruising guide described the town as “a lovely small town to explore with a marvelous tourist office, brimming with history.” Sounds promising.
We took off in a light rain to see what there is to see, armed with a list of “restaurants” provided by the Logsdon office. What we found was a very depressed river town. There were a few taverns that looked too dive-ey even for us – and we like dive bars! We stopped into a slightly scary looking place to have dinner. The bartender told us, “We serve a good dinner on Mondays.” Since it was Tuesday, we decided not to wait that long!
It turned out finding dinner in Beardstown on Tuesday is no easy feat. The cafe closes early, the bowling alley (yes, we considered having dinner in a bowling alley!) was also closed. None of the taverns served anything more substantial than popcorn and potato chips. We went back to the boat and made grilled cheese.
With another long day ahead of us, it was lights out early that evening, with the sounds of trains and towboats lulling us to sleep.