Palestine Things to Do

  • Newspaper Article about Fort LaMotte blockhouse
    Newspaper Article about Fort LaMotte...
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  • Revamped Darby Caboose
    Revamped Darby Caboose
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  • Fife Opera House
    Fife Opera House
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Most Recent Things to Do in Palestine

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    Betsey Reed's Book Emporium & Festival

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Betsey Reed's Book Emporium

    Warning: This is really WEIRD!

    If you know that Betsey Reed was the only woman in Crawford County executed, then you will better understand the PUN on the window of the Betsey Reed's Book Emporium You have to CLICK the photo to see it.

    The story of Betsey Reed took place in 1845 when 20,000 people gathered in Lawrenceville, Illinois, to witness her hanging for poisoning her husband.

    There is a new book by author Rick Keisheimer that is called The Hanging of Betsey Reed A Wabsh River Tragedy on the Illinois Frontier. Rick will be signing his book at the Betsey Reed Festival June 6-7 on Main Street in Palestine.

    This is just one activity for the Festival.

    This year the festival takes place June 6-7. It includes a fish fry, flea market, Music, "The Hanging of Betsey Reed" at the Fife Opera House, outdoor movie of "Arsenic and Old Lace" on Main Street: all on Friday. Food booths, games Vendors, Wine Garden, Frontier Shootout, Wagon Rides to new Fort LaMotte, Cast Iron Cook Off, Classic Car Show, and CASKET RACES: all on Saturday.

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    Fort Lamotte

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Newspaper Article about Fort LaMotte blockhouse

    Please Click on picture so you can see the image.

    Fort LaMotte and later Fort Foot were erected at Palestine during the War of 1812. These forts were needed to protect settlers from unfriendly Indian attack.

    Today, The Central Wabash Archaeological Chapter is in the process of researching the exact location of Fort LaMotte.

    AND

    The Fort LaMotte Rangers are reconstructing a replica of Fort LaMotte near its original site! This was made possible because the Chamber of Commerce leased the northwest corner of their arena property for this project. The volunteers have almost completed the Block House.

    Note: While I was visiting my sister in Robinson, the Robinson Daily News ran this article and the Photo.

    The article is called "Past Coming To Life" and it reads:

    "Gordon Howe and Rob Byrley work on the roof of the Fort LaMotte blockhouse Saturday afternoon at Leaverton Park in Palestine. (Josh Brown photo)

    This is really the third version of Fort LaMotte. Volunteers say that this one is being built to last. Thus, concrete is being used for footers here as well as specific wood for the logs.

    This won't really be a replica because no one knows what the original Fort LaMotte resembled. Rob Barley [volunteer] said, "When this fort is completed, it will give folks an idea of what it was like in those times."

    The hope is that the Fort LaMotte project should be done by Labor Day weekend at the time of the Palestine Rodeo.

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    Judge John B. Harper House

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Judge B. Harper House
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    Judge B. Harper was a wounded veteran of the Battle of Tippecanoe during the War of 1812.

    Judge Harper settled in this area in 1830, was a blacksmith and a farmer for 36 years. However, he was also named as a Township Justice of the Peace and County Judge, and that is why he is called "Judge John B. Harper. He was also the school treasurer, and "one of the most prominent men in Crawford County."

    Photo #2 is a plaque that gives information about the house.

    His home, [Photo #1] is believed to be the oldest home in Crawford County. For many years, Judge John B. Harper lived here. It was originally "a small late 18th Century structure that was made of hewn timbers. Later, a dwelling of French architecture was built [1830] eight feet to the west , and sometimeafter 1920, the two were joined into one." (This information was taken from a brochure from Crawford County Tourism Council)

    It is owned by Palestine Preservation Projects Society, and it is listed on the National Register. They are working to restore it so they can use it as a "living history exhibit of Midwest life in the early 1800's". They received help from the Herning, Claypool, and Heath grants to replace the roof with wood shingles like those found originally used on the structure. In addition, the home has been rewired, furnace and air conditioning installed, and restoration of the interior completed.

    members of the Palestine Masonic Lodge assisted as well as general contractor, Clifford Adams.

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    Palestine Mural

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Palestine Mural
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    Palestine artist, Phyllis Moraga created the historical mural for the Palestine Development Association. It is really a pictorial timeline about the historical events that influenced and shaped Palestine' past.

    If you click on the photo of the mural, you will see such events as the Fife Opera House, the railroad, settlers, A Word War II Memorial, the flying Rousch brothers, the historic business district, and the Pioneer City Rodeo.

    It's a beautiful mural with an interesting explanation written beside it [Photo # 2].

    [Photo # 3] is a closeup of a small portion of the mural that points out the importance of the Historic Business District on The National Register of Historic Places.

    The mural certainly is an "eye-catcher".

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    Palestine's Labor Day Celebration

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Directions to Rodeo Arena
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    Perhaps Palestine, Illinois is best-known nationally for its Small Outdoor Rodeo that is held every Labor Day Weekend.

    This event starts the Friday BEFORE Labor Day.

    The very first Pioneer City Rodeo took place in 1966 on a baseball field in Leaverton Park. They had wooden seats for about 3,000 spectators. That first year, the prize money was $1500. Today, the new aluminum seats can seat 5,000 fans for each performance, and about 20,000 people attend. $19,000 is given in prize money! They now have new lights for night performances, and there is a 400 site campgroud that has a showerhouse and restrooms.

    There is a two-hour parade, a Saturday morning chuck wagon breakfast, a Saturday flea market, free entertainment on the bandstand. But the spotlight events are the four performances of the rodeo...that's why cowboys from across the country to Palestine for this major event.I have not seen a performance at the Rodeo because I've never been in the area at that time of year; however my brother-in-law says that it is a "really big deal" in Crawford County".

    PHOTOGRAPHS:

    Photo #1: Sign Directing visitors to the Park and campground for the Rodeo.

    Photo #2: Banner Advertising the Rodeo [I took photo of banner at the Robinson Chamber of Commerce].

    Photo #3: Permanent Art Outdoor Sculpture of Rodeo located as you first enter Palestine.

    Photo #4: Pioneer City Rodeo Poster.

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    Darby Caboose

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Revamped Darby Caboose
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    It's always fun, while visiting Palestine, Illinois, to take a look at the Darby Caboose. This caboose is permanently parked on Main Street. It serves as a memorial to Palestine's rich railroad history, and it's also a tribute to railroades everywhere.. It's an ICRR [Illinois Central Railroad] 1950's caboose.

    The Darby Caboose is named so because of where they are repainted and refurbished [at the Darby Car Company in Kansas City, Missouri].

    Trains were a common site in the 1970's in Palestine. They brought increased traffic to the area and thus more trade. At that time, there was a depot, a roundhouse, and a very busy train yard.

    You are able to "get up and personal" with the Caboose, and that is why children love it so. They can climb up the stairs and pretend to ride it. They can also look through the window to the inside of the caboose.

    Right near the the caboose is a stone marker which commemorates the Illinois Central Railroad.

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    Fife Opera House

    by deecat Updated May 29, 2008

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    Fife Opera House
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    Be sure to see all of the Photographs

    The Fife Opera House is a landmark in Palestine. David Fife began construction in 1898 to build a 2-story opera house in downtown Palestine. Interestingly, on the street level, David Fife operated a hardware store and an undertaking business!. But, on the second floor was the modern theater which had electric lights, electric fans, turn-of-the-century murals, and plush red-leather seating [for several hundred quests]. The Fife Opera House web said that "lights all over town dimmed as David Fife threw the switches illuminating his fabulous opera house on opening night." The building was completed in 1901.

    They had band concerts, stock traveling shows, comedies, minstrel shows, and a lyceum series here. It operated from 1901-1912.

    Today, the whole 2nd floor is being renovated. They have restored the hand-painted murals and the rolled curtain. If you take a tour, you will see photographs, musical instruments, maps, and lovely fashions of the time. The Palestine Preservation Projects Society is in charge of all of this.

    Today tours are available through the Palestine Preservation Projects Society, and it can also be rented. There are exhibits, changing displays, souvenirs, and books [to purchase].

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    • Historical Travel
    • Theater Travel

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