A Little Time and a Keyboard: Moline's Sylvan Island Exemplifies Successful Rehabilitation of an Industrial Site into a Thriving Nature Oasis

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Moline's Sylvan Island Exemplifies Successful Rehabilitation of an Industrial Site into a Thriving Nature Oasis

 Moline's Sylvan Island Exemplifies Successful Rehabilitation of an Industrial Site into a Thriving Nature Oasis
Sylvan Island in the Quad Cities Welcomes Visitors to Incredible Nature Adventures

Disclosure: Thank you to Visit Quad Cities for hosting my trip to the Quad Cities in order to share incredible experiences with my audience. Opinions are 100% my own.

Sylvan Island in Moline, Illinois represents the rehabilitation and reinvention of a former industrial site into a nature oasis full of flora and fauna as well as outdoor recreational opportunities. We were so impressed with the rehabilitation of the site and the diversity of wildlife that we hiked the island twice during our recent weekend getaway to the Quad Cities.

Dirt paths on Sylvan Island beckon exploring the interior. They also are a favorite for mountain bikers.
Dirt paths on Sylvan Island beckon exploring the interior. They also are a favorite for mountain bikers.

Remembering Sylvan Island's Industrial Past

A steel mill and limestone quarry once inhabited Sylvan Island. Remnants of the the island's industrial past can be seen throughout. While meandering trails, we noted concrete formations, bricks, loose rock, metal posts and more. Within the web of trails on the island, wanderers will probably see more remnants than we did as we stayed mainly on the outer loop.

Remnants of Sylvan Island's industrial past demonstrate the progress made rehabilitating the island.
Remnants of Sylvan Island's industrial past demonstrate the progress made rehabilitating the island.

Admiring Wildlife

We chose a quiet morning for our first hike around Sylvan Island. Morning presents a fantastic time to see birds and we were certainly rewarded! Rounding the corner to the preserve, we immediately spotted a great blue heron standing upon the truss bridge. Quite the splendid view!

Can you see the Great Blue Heron perched on the bridge?
Can you see the Great Blue Heron perched on the bridge?

As we hiked, we noted the denseness of the forest. In some spots branches of trees almost formed arches! We truly felt that we had escaped the worries of everyday life for a little bit. We certainly marveled at the fact this was once the site of a steel mill.

Tree branches almost formed archways welcoming us to the dense woodlands of Sylvan Island in Moline, Illinois.
Tree branches almost formed archways welcoming us to the dense woodlands of Sylvan Island.

Pelicans!

Soon, we began to approach the hydropower dam connecting Sylvan Island to Rock Island Arsenal. Peering towards the shore we saw a pelican! On our second visit, we would see pelicans nearer to the Arsenal's powerhouse and dam. Both times, fishermen enjoyed some time angling on the shores of Sylvan Island.

A pelican swimming by as we stood on the shore of Sylvan Island.
A pelican swimming by as we stood on the shore of Sylvan Island.

Views of the dam impressed. While we were there for the nature, I have to admit Sylvan Island has a nice view of the dam!

Peeking at Rock Island Arsenal's powerhouse and dam.
Peeking at Rock Island Arsenal's powerhouse and dam.

Breathtaking Mississippi River Views

The Mississippi River dazzled before us from Sylvan Island in the Quad Cities.
The Mississippi River dazzled before us.

A variety of lookouts allowed us to walk out into the river for a better view of the Mississippi, waterfowl and more. From one of the perches, we saw a bald eagle and an egret across the river! Wherever you are on Sylvan Island, be on the lookout for wildlife. We saw turtles and a beaver in addition to all of the amazing birds!

You can see the egret behind me as I pose on the perch.
You can see the egret behind me as I pose on the perch.

After Sylvan Island's history as an industrial site, it had a bit of an up-and-down history of cleanups and then falling into disrepair. The bridge to the island became too dangerous closing the island in 2013. A new bridge was constructed reopening the 38-acre island in late 2017. The work of volunteers and local organizations has fostered a thriving environment and beautiful natural space for visitors to enjoy. Count my husband and I in as two of many people appreciating these efforts in bringing back this former industrial site and maintaining it for all to enjoy! Nature truly thrives on Sylvan Island and will continue to delight many more visitors to come!

Sylvan Island's industrial past is folded right into nature.
Sylvan Island's industrial past is folded right into nature.

For More....

For more on Sylvan Island, see Big Story: Moline's  Sylvan Island  Mounts Surging Comeback by Jack Cullen in the Quad City Times. This article gives a pretty thorough picture of the history of Sylvan Island and rehabilitation efforts.

Other Things to Know about Sylvan Island:

  • Upon entering the island, you will find a excellent informational area with details about wildlife.
  • Fishing, biking, mountain biking, hiking, running, dog walking, picnicking and more nature activities are popular.
  • The outer trail will be flatter than those going into the interior.
  • If you are birder, definitely bring your binoculars. It is worth it!
  • Restrooms are located at Sylvan Island Gateway Park

Moline's Sylvan Island Exemplifies Successful Rehabilitation of an Industrial Site into a Thriving Nature Oasis



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