The Lower Mississippi River Water Trail

Appendix

Rivergator Appendix XVIII

Bald Knob Cross

The Bald Knob Wilderness

 

Bald Knob Cross

 

Bald Knob Cross, officially known as the Bald Knob Cross of Peace, is a large white cross located in Alto Pass, Illinois, United States. The structure is 111 feet (34 m) tall and is visible, when lit at night, over an area of 7,500 square miles (19,000 km2). The base of the cross is 1,034 feet above sea level and overlooks the Shawnee National Forest. Originally completed in 1963, the cross itself stands 111 feet tall, is 22 feet square at the base, 16 feet square at the top and its arms extend 63 feet horizontally. The exterior white panels covering the cross are 4-inch architectural flat insulated metal panels while the base portion is covered in granite approximately 4-inches thick. The structure sits on a foundation of 730 tons of reinforced concrete that goes down 20 feet to bedrock. The steel framework weighs approximately 170 tons. Each of the four sides of the cross have a word inscribed into the granite: Peace, Hope, Faith, Charity.

Bald Knob Mountain was first suggested as an excellent site for a sunrise Easter service by Wayman Presley and Rev. William Lirely after the 1936 Easter service. The first such service was held in 1937, with 250 attendees, and has been held annually since. From 1984 to 1986 there was a Passion Play held in conjunction with the Easter service. After the site was acquired, the Cross was built in stages with money from various fundraisers, the most famous of which was that of Myrta Clutts and her pigs.

The Bald Knob Cross adjoins the Bald Knob Wilderness, a federally designated U.S. wilderness area covering the western slope of the mountain which the cross surmounts.

 

The Bald Knob Wilderness

 

The Bald Knob Wilderness is a 5,973-acre (24.2 km²) parcel of land listed as a Wilderness Area of the United States. It is, by acreage, the largest wilderness area located within the U.S. state of Illinois. It is located within the Shawnee National Forest in northwestern Union County, Illinois. As with other wilderness areas within Shawnee National Forest, the Bald Knob Wilderness is made of second-growth forested areas that were used, until the land condemnations of the 1930s, as agriculture land. The United States Forest Service, which manages the wilderness, describes it as a land of "homestead[s], fruit trees, cemeteries, and abandoned roads."[1] The steep western slope of Bald Knob, a high hill or low mountain within the Shawnee Hills region of far southern Illinois, was never good ground for agriculture. Firewood was cut here and farmers tried to use the region's well-watered, temperate climate to grow orchard fruits such as apples. Shawnee National Forest was created in 1939, and in 1990, the Illinois Wilderness Act set aside seven separate parcels of land within this National Forest as relatively small wilderness areas. The Bald Knob Wilderness, one of these parcels, is a roadless parcel of land within the national forest. Visitors by road to the Bald Knob Cross, as they drive up the east side of the mountain to the cross, skirt the Bald Knob Wilderness on their drive. As with the mountaintop cross, the nearest municipality is Alto Pass, Illinois. The Bald Knob Wilderness borders the Clear Springs Wilderness, which lies to the north and west. The two wilderness parcels are separated by Hutchins Creek. Both wildernesses are served by the River to River Trail. (From Wikipedia)