Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum

Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum

Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum
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  • bklyndelight
    Brooklyn, New York113 contributions
    A suprising treat
    This two room museum tell about the history of scouting and the history of the area in the other room. Both docents are excellent and only too glad to talk to you. Exhibits are very interesting. Old boy scout badges are on sale for 50 ents
    Written October 19, 2021
  • rvtraveller_10
    Navarre, Florida296 contributions
    A Scout's Gem!
    Agree with previous reviewers. If you have had anything to do with the Boy, Girl Scouts or Camp Fire programs this is a neat place to visit. A good selection from the past to the present and a nice history on the Lone Scout's and why each was developed. It was good to see some of the National Jamboree and Order of Arrow patches I had owned (gave to a similar museum). there is also a small room dedicated to Sir Baden Powell. We understood from the curator that this display room came from one individual! Part of the museum is dedicated to the local Ottawa area. Again, very fascinating. I guess this past weekend they had a tour of homes so still had the placards up with information of the individual homes and the history of the people who have lived and continue to live in them. We find it very fascinating as to why a given place develops into a city or town and who the people were that made it happen. Nice parking area as well as potential parking on the street.Worth the 3$ fee.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written October 1, 2013
  • Stone399
    Clermont, Florida23 contributions
    Great Museum!
    Wonder memorabilia and history that I never knew about. Well worth the time. They only charged $3 a person.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 28, 2013
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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LordRaiden
Decatur, IL476 contributions
Sep 2013 • Family
This place isn't exactly easy to find. If you have any connection to Boy Scouts, or Girl Scouts you may want to take the time to find the place.

It isn't huge but it's steady and it's been growing over the years
Written September 22, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Shelli P
Salzburg, Austria7 contributions
Oct 2016 • Family
We were in Ottawa to explore Staved Rock and found the museum through Trip Advisor. It was worth the visit. Past reviewer said the staff hovered, but that wasn't our experience. We explored the Scout history and local town history collections and were impressed. Admission is free, but leave a donation to help out as the attendance was low when we were there early on a Saturday.
Written October 22, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

grlskas
Castle Pines, CO165 contributions
May 2015 • Family
WD Boyce brought scouting to America here in Ottawa, Il. This museum provides much history on scouting, Boys and Girls. We spent over an hour reminiscing about our days in scouting. The things we did and the books we used. They are all there. It is a great tribute to the history. The museum also provides a room full of Ottawa history. Things I remember from growing up in this town of the Lincoln Douglas debate and Lewis and Clark. We truly enjoyed the museum. The museum is free but they ask for a donation, I was happy to provide one.

The Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the history of boy scouts, girl scouts, campfire and the Ottawa, Illinois area.
Ottawa, Illinois is the home and final resting place of one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America, William Dickson Boyce. W. D. Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America on February 8, 1910, and the Lone Scouts of America in 1915. This museum houses the famed collections of the Lone Scout Memory Lodge, formerly located in North Carolina, the most extensive collection of Robert Baden-Powell memorabilia in the United States (English scouting) and superior exhibits relating to youth scouting programs for the last 100 years. Additionally, the museum features hiking trails suitable for youth and adults, as well as a Geocaching Trail which has drawn international visitors.
Written May 12, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ron H
Rockford, IL516 contributions
May 2013 • Couples
If you were in the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, or any other youth scouting program, you will find interesting memorabilia in this museum. It's a great place to leisurely roam and take in a multitude of displays of badges, equipment, original old uniforms, photos and artifacts depicting the history of scouting. Even if you weren't connected to scouting, you'll find the displays interesting and informative. In addition, there is a separate room of civil war memorabilia with flags, uniforms, military equipment and artifacts sure to interest young and old. It's a very nicely arranged museum, easy to get to, and run by volunteers. A mere $3.00 donation per person gets you in the door, and it's worth the visit. A wonderful place to spend a few hours. I give it an A++ rating.
Written June 17, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

charlesc285
177 contributions
Oct 2019
As a former Girl Scout leader I was primarily interested in that aspect only to learn the area favored Camp Fire Girls until 1985 when Girl Scouting began in the area. There are some GS displays but the museum heavily favors the Boy Scout organization. It is well worth the trip if you are a Scouting history buff. The other half of the museum is devoted to local history. The knowledgeable curator gave us the history of many of the displays and prized collections. He was a wealth of information on Scouting, as well. Admission is no longer charged but donations are always welcome.
Written October 28, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

pwwtoy1
Crystal Lake, IL344 contributions
Sep 2019
This is an amazing museum with exhibits pertaining to scouting and the history of the Ottawa area. Lots of great I & M canal pictures, historical photos of the area, and so much history pertaining to scouting. We enjoyed our tour from Dan here very much, and now we will be doing the Ottawa Housewalk in October to see more of the town. Highly recommend this museum.
Written September 15, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

interceptpubs
Columbus, IN1,019 contributions
Jun 2019 • Solo
We stopped in Ottawa mainly because it was the site of the first Lincoln-Douglas debate. This museum has a small display on that event, including a dress won by a woman who was there, but the museum has a whole lot more to offer.

There are actually two galleries - the first covers the history of the Ottawa area. We were surprised to learn that Ottawa has a surprisingly rich manufacturing past with a number of unusual products having been made here.

In 1922, the Radium Dial Company took over an old high school building in Ottawa and began hiring young women to paint clock dials with luminous paint. At the height of production, over 4,000 clock dials per day were being turned out by a work force of around 1,000. Unfortunately, the luminous paint used a combination of phosphorus and the radioactive element radium. Before long, many of the women started coming down with unusual, debilitating symptoms ultimately traced to radiation sickness. The plant closed in the mid-1930s, but the damage had sadly already been done. Reading the tragic story presented in the exhibit of the most famous of the women who worked here, Catherine Wolfe Donahue, and her quest for compensation is truly heart wrenching.

Other manufacturing enterprises with much less dire consequences are also covered: Ghent Motor Company (a World War I era auto manufacturer), Gay Buggy Company (one of their carriages is on display), Porter Manufacturing and King and Hamilton (farm equipment makers), Peltier Marble Company (glass toy marbles that is), Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass (a pioneer sheet glass maker for automobiles, etc.), Weaver Piano Company, and Western Cottage Organ. As noted already, exhibits for each typically include examples of what they manufactured, as well as photos, advertisements, product catalogs, and other artifacts.

There are also photos of some of the local mansions, and information on important historic figures from the area, such as Civil War general W. H. L. Wallace who practiced law in Ottawa in the mid 1800s. He also belonged to the Illinois militia with brief service during the Mexican War at the Battle of Buena Vista and much more extensive service during the Civil War where he led troops at the Battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh, dying from wounds suffered during the latter. General Grant described him as one of the Union's greatest generals.

Another famous Ottawa resident, William Boyce, a Chicago newspaper publisher who bought a 38 acre estate in Ottawa in 1903, is featured even more prominently in the museum. After buying his mansion here, he spent most of his time in the city, only returning to Chicago for business when necessary. He had a love of the outdoors that he apparently also loved to share. After meeting Robert Baden-Powell in London in 1909, he founded the American scouting organization, the Boy Scouts of America, in 1910. A great deal of exhibit space is devoted to Boyce with many items on display, including furniture from his mansion.

This naturally leads to the museum's second gallery which focuses on scouting history specifically. This is perhaps the largest exhibit of scouting artifacts, ephemera, etc. that one will ever see, including a large amount of Baden-Powell material from a private collection that the museum now holds.

We spent about an hour here and really enjoyed all of the exhibits - the presentation and depth is really quite good for a local museum.
Written June 17, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

romanpiekosz
Chicago, IL8,688 contributions
Jun 2018 • Solo
I was on business trip near Ottawa,IL. By accident I've ended up in the city. I saw the brown sign stating that there is a Scouting Museum nearby. I couldn't miss the opportunity to see this place even with very limited of my free time. I was surprised how good collection they have there.
It's very interesting place. I strongly recommend anyone visiting the area to go and visit this museum. It's free, but any donation helps them to maintain the building.

RomanP
Written July 4, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Hans A
Ottawa, IL23 contributions
Oct 2016 • Friends
This is a very unique museum in that Mr. Boyce lived in Ottawa. He learned of scouting while in London, England, when a young boy offered to escort him across the street. He came back home to the U.S.A. and started the Boy Scouts of America. There is a statue celebrating this unique history a short distance from the Scouting and Historical Museum. Local history is also highlighted in a section of the museum.
Written April 10, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

HoosierHank
Carmel, IN33 contributions
Oct 2016 • Family
We stopped by here on our way out of town. Was a little before official opening but we were allowed to enter. Lots of fun scouting memorabilia and information. If you are into scouting it is great! The Ottawa historical part was interesting too. If you like history, want to show what things were like to kids, etc. it is a good look. Read the placards for everything. You will get a lot of information. Wish every town had something like this. Kudos to Ottawa for doing it. And please give them a donation if you can. The place is free.
Written November 4, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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