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Thomson Causeway COE - First Trip of 2012

Located in Northwest Illinois right on the Mississippi River is another beautiful Corp of Engineer campground called  Thomson Causeway.   We spent 5 nights on this site (#58) the first part of July.   I had reserved another site, but one of the park rangers was making his rounds as we drove up to the check-in shack and told us if you find another site you like better and there is no tag on the post, it’s yours.  Just settle up with the camphost in the evening who only works a few hours each day.  

Worked for us.  So Tom unhooked the Jeep and we took a quick drive thru all the loops and once we saw this site I stood guard while he went to fetch the Bus. Giggle.  

We are pretty boring when it comes to trips - usually we just spend our time relaxing outside, enjoying campfires whenever we can, go to breakfast at a local cafe, browse unique shops if we can find them, walk the campground each evening, etc.  We did all of these this time.  

Thomson is a very small town with a population less than 600,  but it’s claim to fame came to light when the Federal government decided to take over a recently built prison.  A few years later it still sits empty.  Another thing that the government can’t seem to get done.  Just Google it if you want to learn more as I don’t want to delve into that subject or add links as it can cause strange hits on my blog.   

Anyway since our daily trek in and out of the campground only took us down the main drag, the only key places we noticed included an old train depot, a gas station or two, a bank and some pizza joint that seemed to stay busy.  Each time we passed it we thought we should check it out, but never did.  Maybe next time.  

Fulton, IL is about 7 miles South of Thomson.  A sleepy town with a working Dutch Mill and a few shops in the historic city centre including a lovely quilt store called Susan’s Calico Creations.  

I got a kick out of the owner’s storage options - she uses old baby cribs to stack her fabric bolts.  They are e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.  This is just a pic of the front of the store - the back half is a bit larger.   Strangely I walked away with no fabric from this shop, but did manage to find a unique ceramic jug with a nice patina @ a small antique store across the street. 

Down the street from the historic area was a nice meat market which served BBQ pork chops and sausage each Saturday, but unfortunately we had just finished breakfast.   Across the street was a local bar called Manny’s Too that served typical bar food.  We ate there one evening and were not impressed.  I had the fried chicken and Tom had wings.  He was expecting BBQ wings, but they were fried.  Neither his or my chicken had any flavor.  We both felt we should have ordered their pizza.  

Usually we at breakfast in Clinton, IA which is just 9 miles  from Thomson — easy peasy drive.  On our return to the CG one morning we stopped at  River Road antique shop directly off Rt. 84.  It consisted of many dealer booths in a nice air conditioned building.  Outside were several metal buildings that are flea market stalls opened on the weekends.  We wandered around the flea market, but not long.  Too hot and nothing of interest.  

I did score inside the antique mall when I found these 3 Nancy Drew books.  I’ve been looking for the original editions of her books for years — well since we lived in NC and FL anyway.  Never had any luck.   No great value to these - just something I’ve always wanted to collect as they were the first books I remember reading as a young girl that my mother had kept from her childhood.  Sure wish I had hung onto those because they were in better condition and would have more meaning, but I’m happy I found these and I plan to look for more in our travels thru the Midwest.  

Overall - this was a great first trip for 2012.  This campground is lovely.  Lots of big shade trees,  two loops with big roomy sites - many which are paved.  A nice clean shower house in our loop.   A place to buy campfire.  A big dump station that is outside the CG, but inside near the shower house is a place to dump a blue tote.  

The roomiest sites are found in the loop they call Potter North (which we were in) and Potter South.  The latter were reservable.   Surprisingly there were many vacant sites during our stay - some right on the water that included over a weekend.    It would be tough to get satellite reception in Potter South - even with a portable one.  The trees are pretty dense along the southwest side of the loop.

A few pics we took on a walk one evening. Click on pics to enlarge. 

Shower house in our loop. Brown sign in pic is location of Blue Tote dump site

Firewood storage. Opens up in evening. Self serve.

Road out of our Loop in Potter North.









Site around the corner from us. Don’t remember number.Popup is on Site 1. First one of “reservable sites” in Potter South loop

Site 19 in Potter South. Nice site — nice view of water across the road since no sites sit directly in front of it 







Since this CG is only 140 miles from home, I suspect we’ll be back someday.  I think our strategy would be to reserve a spot in Potter South and then check out Potter North for an opening.  I did not care for any of the sites in the section that includes 106 - which is the one we had reserved.    They were nice and long , but just too close together - with the exception of a few that were right near the water.  Just a bit more “raggedy looking” in that loop vs. the others.   FYI - The CG loop names do not correlate to how they are described on the reservation site.  i.e, recreation.gov.  Heck I thought Potter North was just a tent loop til we got there as you can’t see any of the description info on recreation.gov.  sigh

Anyway - with the exception of a few tent sites,  the entire CG has 50 amp but water is only available at select areas in each loop.  We filled our fresh water tank before we arrived.   I’ll add a summary review to my CG review section soon. 

That’s it.  Good grief - I started creating this post on July 20 and finished August 7.  But at least I finished.   A lot has happened in between those dates.  I’ll share more about that soon.  

Reader Comments (2)

WOW Lucy, YOU came out of a quilt store empty handed~what's up with that girl!
Looks like a lovely campground you were at. We have been volunteering at a COE day use facility in VT this summer.
Thank you for another great post.

August 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

I know -- quite unusual to not buy a thing but I was glad I skipped it -- my unfinished projects are closing in on me .. I hope it's not too soggy for you in VT anymore. I'd love to be in the Northeast come Autumn.

August 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterLucy

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