Winnebago County, Illinois
Stranded on an uninhabited island with no one but a man Friday as company, and with absolutely nothing to eat, is a predicament in which H.W. Buckbee found himself a few days since. It was not far from Rockford, however, so he did not suffer as relief came quickly, that is, if three hours time can pass quickly. With one of assistants, the seed man drove down near the forty-acre island in Rock river to see a patch of cucumbers, and after looking at the thriving growth, wandered down to the river. A boat with oars in place was near by and Mr. Buckbee suggested an exploration of the big island. They rowed out and walked across the island, only to return and see a naked man rowing the boat to shore. They shouted for him to return, but he laughed at them, called them thieves and many other uncomplimentary names and refused to return. After three hours of waiting the stranded pair started to disrobe and were going to tie their clothing on their heads and swim ashore. Luckily another boat hove in sight and the oarsmen gladly came to their rescue. [Rockford Morning Star, 08-12-1894]
W.L. ALBERTS BUYS SLICE OF FORTY ACRE ISLAND
Contractor Purchases Wm. Corey two Acre Holdings on the Island Down the River--Will Build a Summer Home
A two-acre strip of Forty Acre island three miles south of the Nelson bridge has been sold by Wm. Corey to W.I. Alberts of 1930 Cumberland street. The new owner is a contractor and he will erect a summer cottage on his newly acquired property and with his family will play Robinson Crusoe during the heated term. [Rockford Republic, Aug 09, 1916]
OFFICER HOUSING IS STILL UNSOLVED NOW
Forty-acre Island Rejected as Site Because of Spring Inundation. Knight Tract Too High in Price
At the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce directors last night the proposition of providing living quarters for the families of Camp Grant’s prospective officers was taken up and considered in detail.
Several proposed tracts were discussed as sites for the colony. B.A. Knight offered fifty acres of his land on the west bank of the river near the camp but his demand of $5,000 annual rental was considered prohibitive. Forty-acre island was practically decided to be impossible owing to the fact that it is under water during the spring floods. Work is being pushed to close deals on land near the camp for this purpose. The arrangements are in charge of the cantonment site committee. As soon as the site is decided on the erection of electric lighting, sewer and water systems will be started. It is expected that the expenses of buildings and improvements will be taken care of by a state fund to be raised under the direction of the National Council of Defense. [Rockford Republic, 08-07-1917]
LETTS, REVELL BUY ISLAND OF MORT MILLER
SUMMER RESORT WILL BE ESTABLISHED ON LAND SOON
Government island No. 2 opposite general headquarters at Camp Grant soon will be converted into Rockford’s only island summer resort, Mort W. Miller, 424 North Avon street, having sold the property to Letts and Revell, local real estate dealers. Mr. Miller, seeing a future in the land, purchased the island about a year ago for speculation, and proved successful in the deal, many wealthy Chicago men now planning to build summer homes on the property. They will probably use motor boats as a means of easy access.
The island, one of the most beautiful in Rock river, is 26 acres in extent and abounds with large trees surrounded by a beautiful carpet of luxuriant grass. The ground is level and from 3 to 12 feet above the water line. The wooded tract, entirely surrounded by water and isolated, provides a pretty spot for person desiring privacy, fishing, rowing and outdoor life. A park will occupy the center of the island for the use of all residents, and beautiful streets will be laid out in the property, which also contains a small lake. A new highway will be constructed across the river on the east bank and electric lights and telephones will be available.
Sale to Start Soon
Sale of the island lost will be starts soon --lots, sizes prices and terms to be announced at that time. Plats are now being prepared and details worked out in keeping with the attractiveness of the surroundings. Leon Tissandler is the surveyor in charge of the property. [Rockford Morning Star, 05-13-1928]
SUBDIVISION ISLAND IN RIVER BEING PLATTED
LOTS ON BLACKHAWK ISLE NEAR CAMP GRANT TO BE SOLD SOON
Plans for the platting of Blackhawk island in Rock river opposite Camp Grant were announced yesterday by Letts and Revell, real estate firm, with the consummation of a deal by which the firm purchased 30 acres, giving it control of the entire island tract of 53 acres. Formal openings of the island subdivision will be Sept 2. The real estate firm is handling the sale for the Blackhawk Island Development company, of which its members are a part. The others are Mort W. Miller and P.H. Moan.
Bridge to be Built
The island, which was formerly known as island No. 2, is to the north and east of the island on which the Camp Grant concrete bridge is built. Permit has been obtained from the state for the construction of a bridge from the Camp Grant bridge island to Blackhawk island. This bridge will be 200 feet long and 18 feet wide. Right-of-way also as been obtained for a road leading to the bridge site. Visitors are now carried to the island by a large ferry. The island is one and three-fourths miles long and 1,000 feet wide at its widest part. Four or five miles of 40 foot drives will be laid, giving access to the 300 lots.
Park Space Reserved
Ten acres of the island are being reserved for parks, one of which will be large enough for a baseball diamond. Eight beaches also will be developed. There is a small natural lake in the center of the island which is 8 to 12 feet above the high water mark. A large part of the island is wooded by a variety of trees. Work has been started on the drilling of four wells on the island. It is expected that the sewer system will be connected eventually with that of Rockford sanitary district which plans a treatment plant near Camp Grant.
Sale Begins In Week
Sale of lots will start in a week. For 30 days there will be special introductory prices and terms. Those developing the tract state that prices of lots will be lower than the usual subdivision prices, but that restrictions will insure a residential district of high standard. The island’s position, they state, is such as to give its tenants a sense of isolation and quiet while it is less than five miles from State street. [Rockford Morning Star, 08-26-1928]
NEW BLACKHAWK ISLAND TRACT IS SOON OPEN
E.M. Revell and Sherman B. Letts Head Syndicate Which Will Convert Blackhawk Island Into Resort
The old Forty Ave island in Rock river, which contains 53 acres of wooded land, has been converted into a restricted subdivision by Blackhawk Island Development Co., and on Sept 2 sale of lots in the beautiful secluded island park will be opened. Sherman B. Letts and E.M. Revell, who comprise the realty firm of Letts & Revell, will have charge of the lot sale for the development company, in which they with Mort W. Miler and P.H. Moan hold principal holdings.
1,000 Feet Wide
Grandfathers of today remember Forty Acre island as the best walnut and hickory nut grove tract in Winnebago county. For fifty years it has been a favorite haunt to those familiar with Rock river below Rockford as a nutting grounds. It measures a mile a three-quarters in length and is 1,000 feet wide at its widest point, tapering down to a long neck of ground at he south where a 200 foot concrete bridge will be built across a sub-channel in the river to B.A. Kinght’s Camp Grant island, spanned by the government bridge.
150 Lots Are Ready
One hundred fifty of the 310 lot tracts being surveyed will be staked and chartered when the island sale opens. These will range in price from $350 and up. The parcel will be 50 by 125 to 175 feet in depth. Fifty foot driveways will extend along both east and west shoreline and avenues will cut east and west, their dead ends being converted into eight public bathing beaches. Between eight and ten acres of park property will be improved by the developing company, one park being located at the lower end, another in the center of the island, and the third on the north side, this being 800 by 200 feet in dimension [Rockford Republic, 08-27-1928]
MAY CHOOSE NEW ISLAND HOMESITES
Blackhawk Island Properties Visited by Big Crowd Despite the Cool Weather
Cool weather and rain did not prevent several hundred persons from inspecting Letts & Revell’s Blackhawk island subdivision Sunday and Monday and as a result a score of summer home sites were sold on opening days. The realty firm handling the river island property plans to invite the public to special picnic parties on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month. [Rockford Republic, 09-05-1928]
RODEO PLANNED FOR BLACKHAWK ISLAND SUNDAY POSTPONED
Plans for a rodeo entertainment at Blackhawk island Sunday were postponed yesterday when the show organization announced it would be unable to appear so son due to a conflict in dates. The rodeo will be scheduled for a later date by officials in charge of the island. An entertainment will be held at the island next Sunday, however, with a host of features planed. The beach just completed will be open to the free use of visitors. [Rockford Morning Star, 08-01-1929]
RIVER ISLES ARE CONNECTED; ONE FOR HOME-SITES
NEW BRIDGE RECENTLY COMPLETED OF OAK TAKEN FROM BANKS
Recent completion of abridge connecting government island No. 2 in Rock River, with Blackhawk trail, has opened up the island for development purposes by E.M. Revell, Chicago. Mr. Revell purchased the island property from Mort W. Miller early in the summer. Material for the new bridge was taken from a tract of land in the vicinity owned by B.A. Knight, Rockford attorney. The trees, after felling operations, were transported to the site of the bridge where a complete sawmill believed to be the only one in this section of the state cut and trimmed the logs to the desired size for bridge building.
A new highway has been built on the government island No. 3, east to the new two-way bridge connecting the island and Blackhawk trail. The island subdivision, Mr. Revell says, has more than four miles of full width streets and boulevards laid out. East Shore and West Shore drives form a winding boulevard around the entire island more than two miles long. Two large parks for every kind of sport activity are provided. Birds on the island number more than 30 varieties. Soil is rich black silt loam and the entire island in under laid with gravel, sandstone and limestone.
Development plans of Mr. Revell include laying out one of the parks in flowers and plant life, while the upper and large tract will be equipped with playground apparatus, junior baseball diamonds, and a nine-hole golf course. Many lots for homesites already have been sold to Rockford and out of town persons. [Rockford Morning Star, 07-07-1929]
Direct Mail Service For Blackhawk Island
Direct mail service today was provided Rockford’s only island community, Blackhawk island, located 2 miles south of Rockford in Rock river. Previously the fifty residents of the island has been given mail service at the mainland site of the connecting bridge. This forced the islanders to make a one mile trip to obtain their mail. The direct deliver of mail on the island was achieved through the efforts of Congressman John T. Buckbee and Mort Miler, the original owner and promoter of the community. [Rockford Republic, 07-01-1935]
Threaten Legal Action To Open Closed Bridge
Legal action was threatened yesterday by residents of Blackhawk island in Rock River when Harold C. Bentley, Rockford township highway commissioner, closed to Rock river islands at Camp Grand. Bentley said he was taking action to prevent a fatality there because "the bridge is unsafe and dangerous." He admitted he was not certain his office had supervision over the bridge, which was privately built, but because it link public roads on both islands he decided to barricade the bridge and wait for the courts to decide if his office has jurisdiction. The bridge may still be used for foot travel, Bentely said [Rockford Morning Star, 11-29-1938]
TOWNSHIP HAS NO FUNDS TO BUILD ISLAND BRIDGE
Rockford Township is wholly without funds to provide a bridge to Blackhawk island south of the city, Harold C. Bentley, township highway commissioner, declared yesterday in an answer to a Circuit court suit over Rock river to their island homes. Suit was started against Bentley when he ordered the present bridge closed as unsafe for either automobile or pedestrian traffic. In his reply, Bentley reiterated his contention the bridge is unsafe and declared competent engineers have found the present bridge structure cannot be repaired.
Bridge Would Cost $20,000
The build a new bridge would cost $20,000, more than four times the amount of funds yearly available for new bridge construction in the township, Bentley said. He pointed out that the total assessed valuation of the 21 buildings on the island amounts to only $5,000 and that in 1938, only $109.74 in taxes was paid by owners of the island lots. Of this total, only $7.62 was received for the township highway fund, his answer pointed out. To build a new bridge for the 60 residents of the island would be "an unfair and unreasonable discrimination against the remainder of the township and it inhabitants," Bentley said.
First Bridge Privately Built
The present bridge was built by parties who plotted the island and with private capital solely as a private enterprise for the benefit of those who had lots to sell, Bentley continued. Throughout the township, Bentley has 339 drainage structures and bridges under his jurisdiction and has only $4,500 a year for construction of bridges and only $5,500 a year for repair of bridges and culverts, the answer sets forth. No date has been set for a hearing on the original complaint, filed by Attorney L.C. Miller. Plaintiffs in the suit to compel Bentley to provide a bridge to the island are Bell Swick, Fred Sally, William Corey, Clarence Cook, Bernard and Rose Staponavich, Perim Corey and Edwin M. Revell. Attorney Karl Mohr is counsel for Bentley. [Rockford Morning Star, 07-15-1939]
WRIT TO FORCE ISLAND BRIDGE REPAIR DENIED
Residents May Carry Appeal To Supreme Court
Residents of Blackhawk island yesterday were denied a writ of mandamus to compel Harold C. Bentley, Rockford township road commissioner, to repair to rebuild the bridge connecting the island with Camp Grant island and South Main street road. After having had the case under advisement for several months, Circuit Judge Thomas E. Gill announced his decision late yesterday in favor of Bentley, who was represented by Attorney Karl J. Mohr. In denying the mandamus petition, Judge Gill pointed out the bridge was originally built by private interests for the purpose of selling lots on the island. He held that the evidence of its acceptance as a public highway was not satisfactory and cost of reconstruction was not justified. The court further pointed out that the levy of 25 cents per $100 assessed valuation made by the township highway commissioner for road construction of the bridge and that since a question of discretion was involved the court was not justified in substituting his judgement for that of the highway commissioner. Judge Gill added the island residents have the privilege of petitioning the annual town meeting in April
To Appeal Ruling
Attorney L.C. Miller of the law firm of Miller and Thomas, counsel for residents on the island, announced an intention to appeal Judge Gill's ruling to the state Supreme court and the appeal bond was fixed by the court at $200. Judge Gill suggested to Attorney Miller that he raise the issue in his appeal whether the question of applying to the town board of auditors for a road and bridge tax and levy involved discretion by the road commissioner and whether a road has to serve a general public purpose. In reviewing the evidence, Judge Gill said the road and bridge in question serve less then 30 families. Attorney Mohr claimed the island has only 20 residences of which a fourth are not habitable and that at the most there are only 40 people on the island, located in Rock river south of the city. The mandamus suit was instituted a year ago when Bentley ordered the bridge closed as unsafe for either automobile or pedestrian traffic. The petitioners requested that Bentley be required to repair the bridge, cost of which was estimated at $3,750. Bentley, in the court hearings, contended that engineers called to support Bentley's contention in formed the court a new bridge would cost about $13,000. Others held the cost might be as high as $20,000.
1938 Taxes Were $109
The testimony on taxed, on which Judge Gill based his opinion the reconstruction was not justified, revealed the total assessed valuation of the 21 buildings on the island in 1938 amounted to only $5,000 and that the owners pain only $109.74 in taxes for that year. Of this, $7.62 went to the township highway fund. The Blackhawk island bridge was built in 1928. [Rockford Morning Star, 01-13-1940]
Blackhawk Isle Bridge Receives State Approval
A new bridge soon will connect Blackhawk island with the mainland south of Rockford. A state division of waterways permit authorizing the filling in of part of the channel and allowing the construction of a new 40-foot bridge was received yesterday by Morton W. Miller, "mayor" of the island residents. The existing bridge, condemned by township authorities, will provide most of the wood to go into the new structure. The old concrete railing, recently removed from the nearby Camp Grant bridge, will comprise a bulk of the fill to cut down the channel. The original bridge was 220 feet in length. Residents of the island having failed in an attempt to get the township to provide an adequate bridge, now plan to do the work themselves and keep expenses to a minimum. The channel which the bridge will span is a backwater with little flow. The new structure is to be five feet lower than the present bridge, and will be designed to permit floodwaters to pass under it. About 100 persons now reside on Blackhawk island. [Rockford Morning Star, 04-09-1942]
Arrival of Summer Heralded by Frogs
The frogs at Blackhawk island started croaking Wednesday night and yesterday Mort Miller, mayor of Blackhawk island, officially announced that summer has arrived. His announcement declared that summer had come to stay despite the calendar and thermometer readings. [Rockford Morning Star, 05-19-1944]
Blackhawk Island Wants Causeway to 2nd Island
Morton W. Miller, rural route 1, Rockford, has applied for authority to replace a 40-foot plank bridge across the secondary branch of the Rock river near Camp Grant with a fill composed of earth, broken stone, and concrete, according to an announcement today by Col. R.L. Dean, district engineer at Rock Island for the engineer corps, war department. The announcement said the permit for the plank bridge to provide a means of ingress and egress for residents of Blackhawk island was originally issued Sept. 4, 1942, by the division engineer, upper Mississippi valley division engineer corps, department of the army, St. Louis, Mo. And that Miller’s application said all interested persons and officials have until Oct. 4 to present written statements of facts, arguments, or objections to the applications. [Rockford Register-Republic, 09-30-1948]
BLACKHAWK ISLAND TO GET DAILY MAIL AGAIN
Daily mail service for Blackhawk island’s 90 to 100 residents will be restored May 16, after a four ____ lapse, Morton W. Miller, disclosed last night. "A letter arrived from Representative Leo Allen today," he said, "setting Monday, May 16, for our inclusion again on Rockford rural route No. 1. Allen enclosed a letter from W.V. Burke, first assistant postmaster in Washington D.C." Miller said three-tenths of a mile will be added to R.R. No. 1 for the postal service to the island’s 26 families. [Rockford Morning Star, 05-06-1949]
Phone Company Seeks Blackhawk Island Line
Permission to construct overhead wire for the installation of telephone service for residents on Blackhawk island in Rock river south of Rockford and on another island immediately west has been sought by the Illinois Bell Telephone company, it was reported by the army corps of engineers; district office in Rock Island today. The lines would be erected form a point on the east shore of the river to the Northeast shore of Blackhawk island, thence to the second island. Minimum heights over high water levels would be 17 to 1 feet. Objections to such construction should be addressed to the corps of engineers, U.S. army, office of the district engineer, Rock Island, Ill., before Aug. 1 [Rockford Republic, 07-13-1950]
Install First Phone On Blackhawk Island
First phones were installed Tuesday, afternoon in two Blackhawk island homes, according to Mort W. Miller. At the same Miller said, phone ad electrical lines have been installed the length of the island. Miller said residents of the island have been seeking electrical and phone service for seven years, but that installation was impossible until a causeway was construction to connect the island and the mainland. [Rockford Morning Star, 09-27-1950]
Blackhawk Island Now Still, Isolated Under Rock River
Blackhawk island stands quietly isolated, a three-quarter mile long land mass that has all but disappeared beneath dark swirling waters of the Rock river. Blackhawk island, home of nearly 600 persons, presently has a population that probably could be counted on one hand. A few men equipped with boats and fortunate enough to have homes still not quite flooded are keeping a watch on the island. They have moved their families off. Beyond those few, and their dogs, the island lies deserted. Saturday in a boat tour around--and in some cases over--the island with Sheriff Iver W. Johnson, I gained the impressions that all of this had happened suddenly.
Wash Hangs on Line
Throughout the island there were signs of normal activities carried out to the minute when evacuation became necessary. Beside one home washing hung on the line Water stood less than a foot below the clothes that flapped in the chill wind. Alongside many homes stood cars residents were unable to move in time. Some stood with water almost to the tops. Skies were gray and a raw wind was blowing Saturday, providing a mood typical of the island. It was a dark island Saturday. There was no indication of spring. Homes were darkened, the only moving occupants the waters that inched slowly higher.
Boats Ties to Homes
Only one many was spotted going into a home near the center of the island. Elsewhere there were some homes with boats tied to trees or to the house itself. Indicating that perhaps someone still was there. Occasionally over the quiet hum of our outboard motor we could hear a dog barking. Once another boat rounded a bend. In it two men and a woman sat huddled against the wind. In the bow of the boat was a television set that they were taking to the mainland. There was no greeting as the boats passed. It didn’t seem appropriate. The tour ended at the entry road to the island where a small area remains above the flood, and safe from being cut off from the Beltline highway entrance.
Flood Cruelty Shown
The sheriff climbed from the boat. A man approached him and made a request that in itself tells the story of the cruelty of the flood. With water all but surrounding the area he asked, "Any chance that we can have some drinking water brought in here?" [Rockford Morning Star, 4-03-1960]
Water--logged Blackhawk Island Rivals Venice
Blackhawk Island looked like the Venice of Rockford Sunday as residents ferried their belongings to higher ground. As water continued to rise on the Island, some residents chose to stay in their homes without electricity or water, but most left, to stay with friends or relatives.
"We stayed in the house on the island last night, but left at 6 a.m.," said Arvid Linder, 145 Shore Drive, while piloting his boat down what used to be his street. "When we came back a couple of hours later, there was three inches of water in it." Linder with brother-in-laws Bob and Darrell Strange, all of the island, spent most of Saturday night rescuing persons and animals. "We had to pry the door off one trailer to get one woman out to get one woman out." Linder said.
Bob Strange, 203 Shore Drive, said many person didn’t believe they were endangered by the raging Rock River.
"I was out in the boat last (Saturday) night going around telling people "The water is coming up, better do something," Strange said "They just laughed. One guy said ‘Ha, ha‘" and now he has two cars under water."
A dangerous situation existed when Cecil Sells’ bottled gas tank tipped over and started leaking at his fish market, 3304 Shore Drive. Fortunately, no one came near it with any lighted cigarettes and someone in a boat turned off the gas by twisting a valve.
Some residents complained about the electricity being shut off and not enough police protection.
"The sheriff’s department weren’t anywhere around last night and there were no lights so it was completely dark.: Linder’s mother, Mrs. Shirley Linder, said. "I know of two ladies with freezers full of meat. How are they going to keep them fresh?"
A weary Leo Smith, Box 2 Blackhawk Island, floated up to Linder’s boat in his duck hunting boat to assist him in getting food and other items out of Darrell Strange’s house
"I started hauling people out at 2 p.m. Friday, " Smith said. "I must have hauled 100 people out and put them up at my house which didn’t get much water. I went to bed early last night (Saturday). Tired, Man, I was tired."
Darrel Strange and his wife, Debbie, took a few can goods, family photographs and a file of important documents.
"We have to save what we can." said Strange, who also waded out of the house with a bottle of Seagrams whiskey in his hand.
Bob Strange explained furniture was too large to fit in the boats so most person just took clothing, food and important papers.
Many persons riding in boats to inspect the damage drank beer and joked with other persons passing by.
"There’s not much you can do now but have fun," Darrell Strange said.
"See the yellow trailer," Strange said. "People are renting it and they just moved in two days before this happened."
Linder and the Strange said they had two late model stock car, two sports cars and some auto parts under water.
"There’s thousands of dollars in the parts alone," Linder moaned. [Rockford Morning Star, 04-23-1973]
Blackhawk Island Residents "are river people, anyway"
To an outsider, it’s a little disconcerting to be wading knee deep in main street and nearly foundered b y the wake as a resident off portside nonchalantly motorboats to his flooded Blackhawk Island home. That’s the way it is this morning. Because outsiders seems to get a little more alarmed about the rising Rock River waters that the islanders. The fellow in the motorboat disappeared out of sight around a bend and behind some trees. Chances are, he hadn’t seen the pedestrian who by then had taken to the soft muddy street banks. Islanders built them up after the 1973 flood in an attempt to keep the street passable the next time. The mud, rock and gravel held a while. Then the persistent river licked through a weak spot and it was all over. But just ahead Cecil Sells, clad in hip waders, was calmly surveying his trailer home and garage at 3304 Shore Drive. Hs worried-looking German Shephard "Dusty" stood chest-deep in the water beside him.
"I’ve been here 11 years," he said slowly. "Give up? We don’t know about that. We don’t get hurt. We’re river people anyway. Part of it’s having the right equipment to put up with it.
"I’ve lived on rivers on and off all my life," Sells said. "I’m in the fish business. That’s my main purpose in being here. And it’s not so restricted. Your neighbors don’t run you off if you have a couple extra trailers sitting there."
Dusty checked out the visitor, but had no comment.
Sells rubbed the dog’s head. "Usually he’s not so sociable," he said. Dusty’s house was under water, too.
"This (flood) isn’t so bad as ‘73," Sells observed. "This one came slower. I feel most people got off the island this time--if they wanted off." His wife, he said, was with a daughter in Byron. He was staying.
Sells said that until this morning he had been able to keep up with the water seeping into his garage. The trailer was up on blocks and still had some lee-way.
"I haven’t heard the weather report," he said. "I’ll want to know in time to put the furniture up on blocks.’
Sells offered a boat ride around the island. The burned-out home of Jean Stinson was one of the first places passed.
"That the first bad fire I’ve ever seen," Sells said. "May being on the river all my life has helped. But last night it was a hazard."
The home burned to the ground before firemen could reach it. Ironically, they were barred by the water. [Rockford Register-Republic, 03-24-1975]
River Shrinks Blackhawk Island
The steadily rising Rock River reclaimed chunks of Blackhawk Island Sunday, forcing some of the island’s residents to seek higher ground. The island, just south of Rockford, was trapped between forks of the swollen river and appeared to diminish in size as the waters rose. Winnebago County sheriff’s deputies on the scene said no formal evacuation procedures had been instituted, but an informal check showed an undetermined number of island dwellers temporarily had deserted their homes. Some, however, preferred to stay and drink beer. Authorities said many of the island’s roads were impassable and vehicular traffic was restricted to residents only. Because of the closed roads, most of the island was accessible only by boat and damage estimates were sketchy.
"We’ve got some that left the island, but some that stayed too," said one power boat operator. "Those that wanted to stay, stayed and those that wanted to go, went."
The comments of other bystanders underscored the almost nonchalant attitude of many at the island.
"People here don’t seem to get too worked up about these things," said an island dweller as he waded through hip-deep water in search of his car. "This one ain’t too bad at all."
At the Island Avenue entrance to the island, a carnival atmosphere prevailed as some residents swapped flood stories and others warned their neighbors not to talk with reporters.
"These people are ready for the Fourth of July," said one man. "They havin’ a good time. One guy had his 12 pack of beer in the road and he says, 'you can run over me, but don’t run over by beer'
"It’s hard to shake up these people."
About 100 yards down Island Avenue where it becomes Shore Drive, the river began to overtake the roadway. The standing water reached depths of a last 3 feet in some places over once-dry ground.
Agnes Stinson was one of the few holdouts along Shore Drive. The water had nearly reached the floor of her mobile home. "We’ll stay," she said. "We stayed here in 1973 when the water was up to our knees inside the trailer." [Rockford Morning Star, 07-03-1978]
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