Things to Do Around Rensselaer, IN (3)
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8. Visit a Museum
There is a privately-run railroad museum, the Monon
Connection, a mile and a half north of Monon. It costs $6 to
enter, which may be a bit much if you are not a railroad fan. Most rail
museums feature the big stuff, the locomotives and cars of the past.
This collection features the small stuff--the bells and whistles, the
lanterns, the china from passenger trains, signs from depots, and lots
more of the day-to-day items that were associated with the glory days
of rail. If you do not want to pay the charge, you can still view the
many items they have outside, and you can eat in their excellent
restaurant, The Whistle Stop.
An Alternative: Attend The Feast of The
Hunter's Moon. Downstream from present-day Lafayette is the site of Fort Ouiatenon (pronounced
"Wee-ought-non") built by the French in 1717 and destroyed by the
Americans in 1791. The site is not all that interesting during most of
the year, but for one weekend in the fall, it is the site of a giant
festival, a festival done the way a festival should be done. Everything
is designed to emphasize life as it was almost 300 years ago. The
eating booths try to serve foods that could have been served three
centuries ago, the commercial booths mostly sell items that could have
been available then, and the entertainment (and there is much) tries to
recreate the past. Unfortunately, because it is so well done, it has
become quite huge, much larger than any gathering would have been when
Fort Quiatenon actually existed.
Another Alternative: Enjoy a Festival. There are many festivals in the
area; each town seems to have one. Demotte had the Touch of Dutch
Festival in August (with an excellent 5K run), that honored the Dutch
settlers of Demotte, but for some reason decided to ditch the
Duch--they renamed it "Town and Country Days." But the little town
festivals pale when compared to the Feast of the Hunter's Moon.
9. Take Target Practice at Willow Slough
Willow Slough, like
Jasper-Pulaski, is another game reserve that was established not for
bird-watchers but for hunters. Like Jasper-Pulaski, Willow Slough has a
large and very nice shooting range. Bring just about any firearm you
can legally own and you can practice shooting it in the shooting range.
If you are not into firearms, you can still enjoy hiking some of the
trails in the area (but maybe not during hunting season).
An Alternative: Go to Church. Just across the
Illinois border lies the little town of Beaverville, originally settled
by French immigrants from Canada in the nineteenth century. A large
convent was established there, and with it a Catholic boarding school.
In the 1960s the number of nuns declined, the school and convent were
closed, and now all that is left of this once-thriving place is a huge
and very beautiful church which
looks totally out of place in the little town of Beaverville. Here is more information and a few pictures I took.
10. Visit the Beach.
Ride a roller coaster at Indiana
Beach, a small amusement park/water park about 40 miles east
An Alternative: The Buckley Farm Homestead in Lowell,
one of the fine parks in Lake County, has a working farm that shows
agricultural life from an earlier time. It makes an interesting
contrast with the dairy tour in item 2.
The best overall view of Rensselaer, with many links,
can be found at: http://www.visitrensselaer.com/
Saint Joseph's College, located just south of
Rensselaer, http://www.saintjoe.edu/ has a page of links that may be
Here is the official website of the City of Rensselaer: http://www.cityofrensselaerin.com/
Finally, here is a page showing gas prices at several of
the local stations: http://www.indianagasprices.com/Rensselaer/index.aspx