The excitement surrounding the 2017 Great American Eclipse is building and Makanda, IL is in the spotlight. Because of the village’s exact location along the nationwide path and the length of totality – total darkness – in this small Jackson County community, a projected 250,000 people will make their way to this village of 600 residents. Yes, the 2017 Solar Eclipse Aligns With The People of Makanda IL.
So how does a village of approximately 600 residents prepare for a one of a kind celestial show and an invasion of thousands of people? With ease and a smile on their face.
My sister Jane (#5) visited the town and came back with stories and eclipse excitement that made me want to jump in the car and check it out. So that’s what we did. We headed to Makanda which is 80 miles south of Freeburg, where we live. We walked the Makanda Boardwalk, talked to the store owners, ate the best hamburger in the world and shopped. We took in all the sites, sounds, and smells. It was a fabulous day, and even though I won’t be there the day of the eclipse, I know I will be there in spirit. The people were charming; they appreciated our visit, and they made us feel welcomed.
Located in the Shawnee National Forest, Makanda is the Gateway to Giant City State Park with the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and the scenic River to River Trail passing through the village. You can read more about Makanda here.
The Makanda Boardwalk
The picture above is the Makanda Boardwalk. It’s known for its unique shops and businesses and is a natural place for artisans to showcase their work. It’s hard to describe, but you could feel the excitement building, not just with the shop owners but the people pulling up to the boardwalk wanting to do just what we were doing; grabbing a little piece of Makanda before the world bombards their little piece of God’s Country. The natural phenomenon of a total solar eclipse and almost 2 minutes and 40 seconds of total darkness will bring scientists, TV stations, radio stations, and folks like you and me to their village.
Rainmaker Art Studio
Meet Dave Dardis. We started in Dave’s shop because he has been all over the news. Dave owns Rainmaker Art Studio located in the center of the 73-mile wide path of the solar eclipse. To say that Dave has been in the limelight is an understatement. He’s been interviewed by newspapers, radio stations, and national TV. He takes it all in stride and is very natural and relaxed when asked about the notoriety the eclipse has brought to his studio. He Is a coppersmith and his sun and moon sculptures depicting an eclipse hang throughout his studio. Here are two links featuring Dave and his studio’s location to the eclipse. CBS This Morning and CBS Sunday Morning
Dave has owned the shop for 45 years. Just think, for the next solar eclipse in 2024, he will have owned the studio for 69 years! You go, Dave!
2017 Solar Eclipse Aligns With The People of Makanda IL
The line painted through Dave’s Studio is not going anywhere, so if you can’t make it to Makanda for the solar eclipse, you can make the trip another day. The word on the street is, NASA was there and used their GPS system to mark the exact line which represents the center of the 73-mile wide path of the eclipse. That is so cool! So when I say the 2017 Solar Eclipse Aligns With The People of Makanda IL, it does.
Meet The Artisans
The picture on the left is John Bent. He’s from Boca Raton, Florida and is helping during the eclipse craze. He’s working on a bracelet and also paints. The top right picture is Dave Dardis and my sister Jane. The picture on the bottom right includes John Bent, Mark Winters, and Ed Wright. All three work in the studio. Dave has two websites Rainmaker Arts and Dave Dardis Rainmaker. Make sure you check them out.
The Secret Garden
Take one step out the back door, and you feel like you’re walking into the Shawnee National Forest adorned with artwork in many different architectural forms. The back of his building is an acre of land that Dave’s been transforming into a secret garden. With every turn, you will be captivated by his works of art. Walking through the lush oasis is definitely worth the trip.
Continuing Down The Boardwalk
In the picture above you get to meet Nina Kovar, she is in the background with a beautiful smile on her face. Nina is the owner of Visions Art Gallery & Studio and represents local artists and is also an artist. The couple in front is Monte and Diane Bremer. Monte is a wood designer, and Diane is a potter. They bring together their two mediums; wood and clay, in beautiful ways. In fact, I bought a piece of theirs, and I have it on the piano. How cool is it to buy a piece of art and get to meet the creators? Their pieces were outstanding.
In the lower left corner is Brain Beverly. He works at the Makanda Trading Company (Rock Store), and we were getting a lesson on healing rocks. It is a fascinating shop, and of course, we had to touch everything.
In the lower right, is Dave Dardis’ out of this world sculpture depicting the solar eclipse. He has similar pieces in various sizes, and they are stunning. Perfect for many types of decor. My sister bought a similar one on her first trip down to Makanda. You will see the sculpture in the Pinterest pin below. You may want to save it!
A Track Less Traveled
The picture below is the railroad track at the entrance of Makanda. It was 1845 when Makanda got its start, and there the boarding house and construction company for the Illinois Central Railroad was located. Later it was a major shipping hub for fruits and vegetables to Chicago.
It’s been 99 years since an eclipse has crossed the U.S. mainland and that’s why scientist are calling it The Great American Eclipse. The eclipse will be viewable to most of the nation at some point, but for the people of Southern Illinois and specifically Makanda, they will have approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds of darkness. Street lights will go on, animals will be confused and who knows what eerie and strange shadows will be visible on the ground because of the corona.
I’m happy for our little piece of the world, Southern Illinois, and mostly for Makanda. It’s a time for them to shine, to show off a part of the Shawnee National Forest, their beautiful art work, great food, and of course, their southern hospitality. I’ve been watching the weather forecast and praying that the skies are clear for the scientists and the many people traveling to see and experience the sense of wonder.
If you haven’t jumped on the total eclipse bandwagon, check out this TED Talk by David Baron. “You owe it to yourself to experience a total eclipse.”
Over the next 35 years, there will be five total solar eclipses, and 2 of them will be making a special crossing in Makanda. August 21, 2017, and April 8, 2024. Check out the map below for the two paths.
There’s something special about Makanda, and I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the sites and meeting some of the people who call Makanda, home.
I have to mention proper eye care, so make sure you have your solar eclipse viewing glasses, and you can click the link below to view a variety of brands. Here is an article on “How to View a Solar Eclipse Without Damaging Your Eyes.”
Thanks so much for being here and I hope your eclipse excitement is building. Do you have a plan for August 21st? Please consider leaving a message in the comments below and share where you will be the day of the eclipse. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.
Thanks for stopping by, Rose
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission which helps keep my blog up and running but it won’t cost you a penny more)!
Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses