Many years ago, a Kewanee industrialist named E.E. Baker made a donation that Kewaneeans can still appreciate.
Baker made an endowment to the newlyformed Kewanee Park District, and the endowment still earns money which helps pay for maintaining a splendid set of parks.
Windmont Park, a 20-acre site on the city’s southwest side, is one of the most attractive settings of any park in the Midwest. A lagoon is surrounded by a large variety of trees and shrubs, and the eye is drawn to an iron footbridge that crosses the lagoon.
There’s also a sidewalk that circles the water, a favorite of people who walk for their health or just to enjoy the park’s scenery. A fountain donated to the park by a group of citizens adds a finishing touch to the scene.
Recently installed at Windmont were a handicapped-accessible fishing pier, rock around the lake’s shoreline, a new shelter, playground equipment and wider sidewalks for walkers enjoying the jaunt around the lagoon.
Baker Park with its 300 acres is the site of a popular 18-hole golf course, with a driving range nearby. The clubhouse and pro shop for the golf course features the 19th Hole, a popular restaurant with golfers and nongolfers alike. Golfers can also enjoy Kewanee Dunes Golf Course, an 18-hole public facility featuring a swimming pool, restaurant and practice facility.
Baker park also includes a two-mile scenic drive, with a newly-resurfaced road that curves through majestic timber and goes up and down hills.
Northeast Park features the Oasis Family Aquatic Center, a new facility that has a zero-entry pool, a water slide, a fountain and other attractions.
A distinctive stone-sided bathhouse in Northeast Park has been remodeled for use as a shelterhouse. The park is also the headquarters for most of the youth baseball in Kewanee, as well as youth soccer leagues in the spring and fall.
Chautauqua Park in the west end of the city has a youth baseball diamond, a shelterhouse and a concession stand. In the winter, local snowmobilers can use a trail in the park. A new feature at Chautauqua is a 12-hole disk golf course.
These parks are all operated and maintained by the Kewanee Park District, which is guided by a board consisting of five elected commissioners.
Kewanee’s city government also has a parks department, and maintains three smaller parks in the city — West Park, McKinley Park and Veterans Park.
The city also operates the unique Francis Park, three miles east of Kewanee. Francis Park was donated to the city by Fred Francis, an eccentric inventor who built a home called Woodland Palace. Tours of the home are offered from April to October, and Francis Park also has facilities and hookups for campers.
Johnson Sauk Trail State Park, five miles north of Kewanee, offers camping sites, a scenic drive and 58-acre lake within its 370 acres. In the spring, summer and fall, the Lakeside Restaurant and Lakeside Bait and Tackle are open.
The YMCA also offers a wide variety of programs for the entire family, including fitness classes, tumbling, dance and swimming.
Black Hawk East College south of Kewanee has a fitness center that’s available to the public as well as to the college’s students and staff.
Wethersfield schools used a private grant to built a fitness trail around the campus on the city’s south side.