Friday, August 10, 2012

Chain Livin': Touring the Blossoms

"The Chain" was put on the map as a recreation destination over 100 years ago. Busy Chicagoans took the newly expanded train route to Fox Lake in order to find a relaxing distraction from city life. One of the main tourist attractions in the area were the "Egyptian" Lotus Blossoms.

Back in olden tymes people would visit Fox Lake and Antioch to see the famous flowers that only grow in two places around the world: Egypt and The Chain o' Lakes, IL. There are a few pictures and old postcards online showing the blossom tour as a true attraction through the '40's and beyond.

Greetings from Fox Lake, Illinois - Large Letter Postcard
Blossoms in the "K"

The "Egyptian" portion of the blossom is still a common myth today. We thought these flowers really were only here and in Egypt until we researched this post. Cooter's History Thing Blog quotes the 2010 Grant Township (Which Fox Lake is in) Historical Society:
Fox Lake, Illinois', official flower is the very fragrant lemon-colored Egyptian Lotus Flower. At one time, when the Chain of Lakes was much lower and boat traffic much less, huge lotus beds covered parts of the lakes.
Today, there are far fewer, primarily near Crabapple Island where the water is too shallow for boating.
The Chain of Lakes, here in northeastern Illinois, is the only place in the US where they have been found growing in the wild. No one knows for sure why that is.
The Lake County History Blog presents a different story:
The lotus caused quite a tourism sensation from the 1880s to 1940s. Vacationers were drawn by word of their beauty and by the legend. The legend, created out of a combination of naiveté and marketing, stated that the lotus actually originated in Egypt and were brought to Lake County by bird or by an early settler. This myth made for great advertisements and was generally accepted as fact by area residents, but simply wasn’t true. 

The lotus, known as Nelumbo lutea, or American lotus, grow not only in the Chain O’ Lakes, but also in Illinois’ major rivers and lakes and ponds, and shallow water areas throughout the eastern United States.
We checked out wikipedia and it seems pretty clear that Nelumbo lutea is the flower in our lakes. No matter where they are from, they are very pretty and add character to the places they still grow.

With the blossoms in bloom we decided to take a boat ride and take a closer look. Here's a quick video we made from our tour and some pictures.

Some photos were sourced from the Internet for educational purposes. We do not claim the copyrights.

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