Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
Long Grove Bridge
Robert Parker Coffin Road east of Schaeffer Road, Long Grove, longgrovehistory.org
Before the first bridge was built over Buffalo Creek, residents of Long Grove had to walk or ride through the creek to visit the church and cemetery on the other side.
Then, in the late 1840s, a simple wooden bridge was built. In 1906, the wooden bridge was upgraded with a more robust iron truss bridge to accommodate motorists.
In the 1970s, Village President Robert Parker Coffin proposed covering the bridge to protect the structure and the village’s rustic charm. That covering, modelled after the famous Ashuelot Bridge in New Hampshire, was added in 1972.
Since then, the bridge has become a beloved fixture in the community. Residents have embraced its unique history and a Save the Bridge movement, started by the Long Grove Historical Society, has made strides in keeping the bridge protected and intact.
Unfortunately, their mission has proved challenging. In June 2018, just days after the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was badly damaged by an oversized and overweight truck that was attempting to cross. Once again, the citizens of Long Grove rallied to save their beloved bridge and, in August 2020, after rebuilding and refurbishing its foundation and iron infrastructure, the bridge was re-opened.
Today, despite frequent run-ins with oversized trucks, the Long Grove Bridge remains one of only two of its kind in the Chicago area.
Village officials are working to convince internet map providers to update their software with driving routes that avoid the bridge.
Mt. St. Mary Park, Ill. Rt. 31 at Prairie Street, St. Charles, stcsculpture.org
No matter what time of year you visit Mt. St. Mary Park, you’re likely to find an array of sculptures scattered along the trails. Each spring, new statues arrive and older statues depart as part of the St. Charles Park District’s Sculpture in the Park, a program that helps to raise awareness of sculpture, artists and local parks.
The works themselves range from permanent to temporary and run the gamut from realistic to highly abstract. Some sculptures are even available for purchase.
One of the park’s permanent fixtures is the beloved “Mr. Eggwards,” a bronze Humpty Dumpty-like character who sits on a wall facing Illinois Route 31. The sculpture was created by Kimber Fiebiger, a sculptor who lives in Minneapolis.
Mr. Eggwards was acquired by the St. Charles Park District, with assistance from St. Charles Township, in June 2013. Since then, the jaunty fellow, dressed in a blue suit and matching bowler hat, has remained seated on his wall, smiling at passersby.
Visitors are invited to photograph Mr. Eggwards, along with the other sculptures in the park. While selfies are welcome, visitors are asked not to climb on the sculptures, including Mr. Eggwards. We wouldn’t want him to have a great fall.
‘Wayne’s World’ Garth-Mobile Replica
Hollywood Casino, 1 W. New York St., Aurora, (630) 801-1234, hollywoodcasinoaurora.com
When “Wayne’s World” hit theaters in February 1992, Aurora suddenly found itself in the public eye.
The film is based on a series of popular sketches from “Saturday Night Live,” and Aurora is the hometown of main characters Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, respectively. In the film, the two loveable headbangers show the viewer around Aurora and visit fictional locales like Stan Makita’s Donuts and Noah’s Arcade.
While the film was not extensively shot in Aurora, its frequent mention of the city made this suburb a destination for fans of the film. In 2017, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Wayne’s World,” organizations around the city came together for a six-month celebration that included a Garth and Wayne look-alike contest, an air guitar competition, film screenings, and a world record attempt at the largest number of people to sing along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The celebration also included the unveiling of the Garth-Mobile, a replica of the AMC Pacer driven by Garth in the film. The powder blue car, with flames painted on its sides, now resides at the Hollywood Casino in downtown Aurora. Fans of the film can take photos of the car and see Garth’s drumsticks sitting on the dashboard.