The centennial of the dedication of the Dixon Arch, clearly the most enduring symbol of Dixon, is June 11.
It seems a shame that this occasion might pass unnoticed. On the other hand, there is no need to try to repeat the hoopla of the event in 1919. More than twice the size of Dixon’s population at that point witnessed the dedication. Almost all men and women who served in France and elsewhere marched under the arch.
Subsequent changes in the arch include a slight alteration in location. There also is nothing like the flowery prose used for the original arch.
All things considered, I recommend a rather simple ceremony to mark a rededication to the principles set forth in 1919.
The other matter that may come up in 2019 is somewhat obscure. The 99-year lease of Van Arnam’s Island – that unsightly blob of land east of the dam on the Rock River – is to expire in 2019. The current contracting parties are Commonwealth Edison as the owner, and the Dixon Park District, as the lease holder. Neither was a contracting party in 1920.
Van Arnam’s Island may seem little more than an overgrown mess now, but that hasn’t always been the case. For many years, it was an especially attractive picnic area for Dixonites. There even was a ferry service that ran between the island and the front of Assembly (Park) Boulevard.
Today, the island is best known as Dixon’s de facto sanctuary for bald eagles and eaglets. There is probably no realistic opportunity to restore the island to its former glory.
A relevant, additional matter is that the dam is more than 90 years old. Some sort of decision regarding the dam should precede even a semi-definitive one on what to do concerning Van Arnam’s Island.
My suggestion is that the lease terms be renewed for 25 years. That should be sufficient time to permit rational decisions regarding the birds and the dam.
Note to readers: Lyle J. Woodyatt is a Dixon native.