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One of my favorite things to do when I am in Tampico is sit in one of the Gazebos located at either end of the town. Both are beautiful and serve a purpose, but I am a bit more partial to the one on the south end in Reagan Park. I love to watch for tourists - easily spotted by the cameras hanging from their necks. If they are in the Reagan Park, they are usually looking for the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan (now a private residence). I can't wait to ask them where they are from and if they have taken the Reagan Tour yet. By the time they find the park, they have usually been to the Birthplace for a tour. That makes my "job" easier. About the only thing I love more than Tampico history is to share it with others, especially tourists. If you sit in the gazebo in Reagan Park, you can capture a great part of her history without doing more than turning your head. Facing south from the Gazebo, you will first see the red brick house on the corner of Main & Glassburn Streets. That was the home of Tampico's founding father, J. W. Glassburn. The next home west on Glassburn is the boyhood home of Ronald Reagan. His family moved there about three months after his birth in the apartment above the 1st National Bank building in town (although, it was a bakery at the time of his birth). Now you have not moved an inch, and yet you have been exposed to two very important pieces of Tampico's history. A little further west (you may need to scooch around a bit), still facing Glassburn Street, you will notice two little ranch-style houses. This is where the Sly Hotel (aka: Tampico Hotel) once stood. A very convenient location, since it was right across the way from the train station (we'll get to that in a second). If you continue to turn your head towards the alley-way, you notice a blue-gray house. This is where the old Electric company was located. (About this time, it's probably easier to just turn around and face north, looking towards the grain elevators.) Just in front of those elevators was the train depot. Two trains ran through here. One was the CB&Q line and the other was a little local train that some may still remember. It was called the H Y & T, which stood for Hooppole, Yorktown and Tampico. There are lots of fun stories about this little train, often referred to as "The Dummy." Many of them are told on the DVD sold in the historical society or told when you take the tour of the Birthplace. If you are facing east, looking across the street were the stock yards, where livestock waited to be loaded. Anyone that grew up in Tampico in the earlier days would have memory of Pig Alley.
As if all of this history weren't enough, TARP and the community came together and planted, built, poured new walkways, added lights and landscaping and made it more inviting and welcoming to all who passed this way.
It has been such a pleasure and pure enjoyment to see the transformation of the Reagan Park over the past years. One might think that all is well and complete. However, it seems it is only the beginning. On October 9, there will be dedication of an Historic Marker in the park. After all, it is the home of the ONLY president born in Illinois - Tampico, IL. Joan Johnson can give you more details on that .
But that's not all that is in the works. For years, it was the dream of past docents Lloyd & Amy McElhiney to erect a statue of a young Ronald Reagan in the Reagan park. The park was one of Ronnie's favorite playing areas, especially on the old cannon that use to be there (later scrapped during war). An old photo was found as an inspiration for the artist's rendition of the proposed statue. Shirley Lester & Terry Gaskill are coordinating a fund raiser for this project by selling laser imprinted memorial bricks that will pave the way to the statue in the park. Bricks sell for $100 each and will accommodate up to 35 characters. For more information, please contact Shirley, 815-438-7447/499-4770 or Terry at 815-535-3665. (end)