Charles Mound, Illinois, 1,235 Feet
Here I am with the mountain of Wisconsin behind me to the north.
The real guardians of the mountain are the cats which climbed in our car at the parking area. This cat's name is "Friendly."
From Dubuque, Iowa, we crossed the Mississippi, drove 25 miles to Galena, Illinois on U.S. The town, with a population of under 4,000 is a tourist draw with its restored Victorian brick businesses, bed and breakfasts, trolly tours and antique stores.
The town is surrounded by a host of scenic mounds (all of which have nicer lines than Charles Mound).
We stopped at the tourist information center (a couple blocks from the home of former U.S. President U.S. Grant (given to the General after the Civil War). The Grant house at 500 Bouthillier St., Galena (815) 777-3310 is open for tours.
A woman gave the phone numbers for the property owners, Wayne and Jean Wuebbels (815/845-2625 days and 815/845-2552 evenings). When I was shocked to find the phone call to an 11-mile distant spot cost $2.50, another tourist center woman called for me. Apparently, the phone companies are feuding in these parts.
I spoke with Mr. Wuebbel who promptly gave me permission after only asking where I was from and telling me to park in the marked spot.
The Wuebbels are to be commended on their openness with the high point. The high point has gone through various contortions in past years -- including an admittance fee and being closed entirely at one point.
We drove 11 miles northeast on Stagecoach Trail to Scales Mound where a Village sign proclaimed "High Point Park." All of Scales Mound is on the National Register of Historic Places.
We drove through town on the main street (Elizabeth-Scales Mound Road) to the north edge where we turned east on Charles Mound which stairstepped for 1.3 miles to a gravel road leading to the summit. The road is marked private and had Wuebbels name on it. There is no reference to the high point.
Cows in the cornfield watched us and we got stuck behind farm machinery -- hard to imagine this is only a 3-hour drive from Chicago.
By a farmhouse, a sign asked highpointers to park. A group of curious cats descended on us -- one even jumping in the car.
We walked the 0.2 mile up the gravel road to the summit. The Wuebbels have cut the surrounding trees so you can a vista up north into Wisconsin and back toward Scales Mound. Four USGS markers surrounded the summit.
A log tripod supported the blue "High Point" sign along with a greeting from the Weubbels. We registered and sat in the lawn chairs. The Weubbels have a new house about 100 yards to the west of the summit. Mrs. Wuebbel waved as she drove by.
The mound was named for Elijah Charles who built a house there in 1828.
This is a former lead mining area which in 1836 yielded 2 tons of minerals.
Another charming neighboring site is the home of Apple Jack Cheese in Warren 415 Jefferson St., Warren (815) 745-2627. Apple Jack is a blend of Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Swiss cultures.
From here we went back to Scales Mound and then headed north to Timms Hill, Wisconsin.