Southern Illinois Tales: Makanda


There’s not enough Makanda in Southern Illinois. Makanda’s small arts oriented, hippie community is centered on just a few shops on a boardwalk. The ice cream is good and the views are excellent but it could use a few more artists.

Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Outdoor Sculpture Garden

Anchoring the joint is an art gallery that, according to a framed article at another shop, was born the same year as Corey and I (1973). The owner mostly smoked both in and out of his shop while the three of us wandered around. In between conversations with locals, he told me that the exposed brick foundation walls hold up not only his roof, but the road that passes over the shop. When it rains, water drips down the inside of the walls. The back of the shop opened up to a pretty nifty sculpture garden complete with mazes, outdoor turrets, and whimsical metal creations. All of it fit into a space smaller than a city backyard.

Just browsing

Just browsing

Surrounding this breath of life are the rolling hills and forest that make up Giant City State Park. There are also a lot of windy roads (some paved, some not), a scattering of wineries (Owl Creek is the best) and a whole lot of farms. WGN was out and about the same time we were and we caught someone shooting film outside the Blue Sky Vineyard. They also interviewed the artist at Makanda and coaxed him into getting a band to play in his outdoor garden. At another stop, the inn keepers told us that most of the WGN crew was spending the night. Trying to get back to our cabin we got a little lost (we have gotten a little lost almost every time we have explored Little Egypt- we have been exploring this area on and off for eleven years). In doing so we discovered another sight, Grassy Lake, and made a mental note to look it up next year. I hope we can find it again. Noel

2 thoughts on “Southern Illinois Tales: Makanda

  1. Wow. What a fascinating place! I live in Rhode Island close to the coastline. If I travel southwest, there is a similar place called The Umbrella Factory, which is a collection of buildings housing various shops and a small cafe. There’s no factory, and no umbrellas. I’ll have to drive down there and get some pictures for you. You’d definitely like it. There are also some emus and assorted other creatures that you can feed for a quarter.

    I like your writing and your travel photos!

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