WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Opening Vishnu Springs to the Public

Oct 14, 2015

An open house will be held Sunday, October 18, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the historic site in a valley in western McDonough County. It's one of the few times Vishnu Springs is open to the public.

The group Friends of Vishnu is hosting the event with permission from the Western Illinois University Foundation. The Foundation owns the land, which was home to a very small town and health resort in the late 1800s.

“The early history (of Vishnu) is very fascinating,” said Randy Powell, Co-Chair of Friends of Vishnu.

“Later history is important too.  The people that were down there in the ‘70s, young people that were there during the Vietnam era.”

Powell, who called the site “a treasure,” said the land is now used as a research facility by WIU’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Powell said Friends of Vishnu helps maintain the land around the former Capitol Hotel, which is the only building still standing at the site.  The group also worked to clean the pond near the hotel.

“We removed all the trees and debris that were in the pond, cleared it out.  So now the spring is running clean through the pond and you can actually see the bottom of the pond,” said Powell.

Those who visit Vishnu Springs Sunday can tour the property on their own. A presentation on the history of the site will be given at 1:00 p.m. 

In addition, author Paul-Thomas Ferguson will be selling and signing copies of his novel, Watershed, a fictional account of the site in the years before it became a health resort.  Powell said a portion of the money generated by the book sales will be donated to Friends of Vishnu.

The open house will be canceled if it rains Sunday.