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Step back in time at Giant City Lodge.

Byline: Holly Kee

A product of the Civilian Conservation Corps, one of the most popular programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Giant City State Park Lodge was built over six years, from 1933 to 1939.

Built of timber and stone, the lodge remains one of the biggest projects ever completed by the CCC.

Visitors to the lodge, in the heart of Giant City State Park in the Shawnee National Forest, are transported back in time by the rustic beauty of the architecture. Multihued sandstone, quarried locally, and white oak timber are most evident. The lobby of the lodge features heavy wood and leather furnishings, a staple of the post-Depression era.

The Bald Knob dining room easily accommodates 200 and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The lodge offers some of the "best fried chicken ever," a staple of the all-you-can-eat family style chicken dinner, but the menu is varied, from beef to pork to seafood, chicken and dumplings, and more.

The lodge also features a lounge, the historic Clem & Arlies bar, a gift shop, guest cabins for a quiet getaway and private rooms for special events, banquets and meetings. The Lodge also has a variety of rental cabins with full amenities, including an outdoor pool. After (or before) indulging in the culinary treats, visitors can work off the calories by exploring nearly 4,000 acres of breathtaking natural beauty.

The area is named for the unique impressions made by the massive sandstone structures, a result of geological faulting and folding. Visitors can walk the Giant City Nature Trail, home of the "Giant City Streets," formed 12,000 years ago by huge bluffs of sandstone, adorned with lush ferns, moss, flowering mints, hundreds of species of wildflowers, and more than 75 varieties of trees.

The visitor's center, open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., contains an exhibit hall with park displays, a short film about the park, and information about the park as well as other area attractions. There is also a discovery corner for children to explore.

The park itself offers camping, picnicking, hunting and fishing, rock climbing and rappelling, and horseback riding. Nearly 2 million guests visit Giant City State Park annually, and in 2006, the park dedicated a memorial garden and statue to the men of the CCC who built the Giant City Lodge.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Apr 17, 2019
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