The City of Rock Island in Illinois is the county seat of Rock Island County and one of the Quad Cities. It has a population of about 40,000 and is about 18 square miles in area. The original Rock Island from which this city gets its name is now called Arsenal Island and is the largest island on the Mississippi river.
Rock Island has old traditional beginnings – it was occupied for thousands of years by indigenous people, primarily by Sauk Native Americans. The city contained Saukenuk, the birth place of the Sauk war chief Black Hawk, known for the Black Hawk war of 1831. Today, it is a historic site and includes a museum about the war and its people.
Rock Island has a rich history in bridge building. It built the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi river, which unfortunately, no longer exists. It has also built the world’s largest roller dam and a two track railroad bridge.
The city has a couple of high schools and colleges, along with several private schools. It also houses the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, which plays its concerts at the Centennial hall on the Augustana College campus.
The city is most known for the Rock Island Arsenal, the largest government owned weapons manufacturing facility in the United States. It is located on Arsenal Island on the Mississippi and is spread over 946 acres. It had housed a Union army prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers during the Civil War between 1863 and 1865. The Rock Island Arsenal museum was opened in 1905 and is the second largest US Army museum today. It contains the second largest display of small arms weapons in the army, along with an outdoor vehicle display. Several thousand visitors enjoy seeing the history of various weapons manufactured by the US since early times.
The city of Rock Island has several more delights for its visitors. It is home to Jumer’s Casino Rock Island, which attracts a large number of gamers every year. The Botanical center is a great attraction for kids and adults. A kid’s garden is under development and will contain a miniature Mississippi river ending into a waterfall, signifying the gulf. The greenhouse has several plants as well as fish, which can be fed by children. The Broadway Historic District is a nationally recognized historic area containing more than 550 Victorian style houses. The Longview Park and Conservatory Gardens includes a greenhouse, conservatory, flower gardens as well as children’s playgrounds, volleyball and tennis courts, outdoor ice skating and walking paths.
Rock Island boasts of several historic sites and has contributed to the varied history of the Quad Cities region.
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