The dead Elephant September 23, Miles 25

“I heard there was a dead elephant buried in town.” I said, prepared to be laughed at by a 20 year old convenience store clerk. “Oh sure, Norma Jean, down on fifth street!”

The tiny river town of Oquawka Illinois is known for three things. Number 1, Abraham Lincoln gave a “house divided’ speech here. Two years later he was elected President. Number 2, State rep. Barack Obama spoke in the same spot. Four years later he was elected President.

Finally and best of all is Norma Jean the elephant. On July 17, 1972, a small circus arrived in town with a 6,500 pound African elephant named Norma Jean. While the 30 year old elephant was chained to a tree it was struck by lightning and killed instantly. Not able to move the body the town agreed to dig a hole where she lay and bury her right there in the town park where she remains today.

I have to mention that back at the campground this morning I offered a nice couple next to me my folding chair. Its heavy duty and brand new. “How much do you want for it?” “Nothing. I don’t use it. Here please” Preparing to leave he came over and insisted I take a 20 dollar bill. We went back and forth, I did not want anything. In the end, so I could leave, I took $20 from a retiree. I’ll be sure to pass it on.

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The Lincoln marker
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The Obama marker
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Norma Jean. An elephant memorial
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Yep 10 miles down the river I ran into the bike couple again
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Sheriff’s office has ‘JAIL’ carved in stone on facade.
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Shot through another spillway. The water is really high
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Water is high, campsites are fewer. Tiny beach waters edge.

 

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