River to Rail Ride 2018

This is the 5th in a series of River to Rail rides to be held helping to fund the Kickapoo Rail Trail being constructed between Danville and Urbana IL.

Dave and I have always talked about, but never participated, until this year.

As two septuagenarians we chose the 33 mile route — a loop from Kickapoo State Park, near Danville, through Newtown, Potomac, and Collison, IL, and back to the park.

Of a total of 89 riders, we were passed by 87 of them, but consoled ourselves by thinking, we aren’t last, we are riding sweep.  🙂

The park is a reclaimed surface mining area where coal was extracted for many years.  Much of the industry of Vermilion county was based on the availability of that coal.


Two Raleighs from the 70’s and 80’s ready to roll!  Itty Bitty panniers from JR’s salvage proved quite useful.

Heavily wooded area adjacent to the park and the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River.

Short break on Bean Creek Road near Potomac.

Approaching Collison, Illinois.  No photos of Potomac — ooooops!

Wind turbines along California Ridge –> the crest of the Newtown glacial moraine.

Partially obscured by the road sign is the former Illinois Power generating station near Oakwood, IL.  Now inoperative, it is a source of major environmental concern.  Coal ash dumped over the years near the Middle Fork threatens severe pollution.


Exposures of bedrock in Vermilion county are practically unknown, being covered by glacial materials — here Pennsylvanian Age sandstone and accompanying layers are revealed by erosion of the Middle Fork and tributaries.  The sandstone sequences are the location of the coal deposits.

View south, Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, said to be Illinois’ only wild and scenic river, and has gained protection from any kind of development.

We arrived back at the start a little worn but very satisfied and thanked the sponsors for providing a very well planned and executed event.

Two rather unusual folding bicycles we spotted on the way back home.


Very much enjoy all the entries you all have provided -- great to see the everyday cycling venues. Being in eastern Illinois, scenery certainly isn't our forte, but oh well, the roads are normally quiet. Look forward to more and more entries from all of you, I do have a few over on BL -- in Bill's Day Rides, and one journal.

11 response to "River to Rail Ride 2018"

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 3, 2018

      Thanks! More work is being done on the trail this summer, so little by little it will get there.
      Total cost is something like 12 million, which is totally out of my realm!


  1. By: The Navigator Posted: June 3, 2018

    Glad you had such a nice day for your ride. Thanks for the geology notes 🙂 I remember California Ridge from 2014 – I had a tailwind that day 🙂

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 3, 2018

      It was a great day for the ride.
      This morning (just got back from a short route around town) the wind is blowing from the NW at 20 mph and gusting.
      If I recall correctly, California ridge was named for people leaving the area headed for California along the higher ground avoiding more swampy areas either side of it.

      Here is some info on how and when the coal was formed in this part of IL:


      • By: The Navigator Posted: June 4, 2018

        Thanks for the link. Interestingly, my mother’s father and his family were from Parke County – not far over the IN/IL border. The whole family worked in the coal mines, and my mom’s memory of her uncles is that they were all ill when she was young and most died of black lung disease. Her dad left IN to work in the CCCs – which is how he escaped coal mining. After he finished with that, he moved to my hometown to work in one of the Guide Lamp factories that made headlights for the GM cars. Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot of the genealogy of that side of the family other than that they were originally Scottish/English and worked in the mines in Parke and neighboring Vermillion Counties.

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 3, 2018

      LOL Thanks! It wasn’t crowded at all back there. 🙂

      It actually turned out we did come across a cyclist having knee issues and were able to send the SAG out to get him.

  2. By: brianbikes Posted: June 4, 2018

    We used to go to Loda and then onto Urbana a lot (via the eerie Rantool). I love seeing the other parts of Illinois that I don’t get to visit enough — the river cliffs are lovely.

    • By: Rich-Illinois Posted: June 5, 2018

      Hey Brian, glad to see you here! My old area too, having grown up in Paxton.

  3. By: Suzanne Posted: June 6, 2018

    Nice ride, and thanks for notes on the history and geology of the area! You see so much more with this kind of background.

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