Richmond has stories worth telling

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John Shiel has become enamored with a town he worked near for years but never lived in.

But he believes that detachment from Richmond gives him a unique perspective to talk about – and the many treasures a simple walkabout will reveal. Starting April 22 he intends to do just that with a new series he’s calling “Sidewalk Stories.”

Shiel, a retired interpretative naturalist with McHenry County College, will share some of Richmond’s most compelling stores during a 2-mile walk along the village’s sidewalks and roadsides.

“I got yapping with people about the lovely nature of the town, and I just talked myself into doing this. It was pre-organic,” Shiel said. “I’ve been around the town for almost 40 years, even though I lived in Johnsburg and now Wonder Lake. I know that it is dripping with cool, old stuff.”

Two-hour sidewalk tours begin at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., spring through fall. Cost is $10, with groups limited to 20. This year's schedule is:

• 10:30 a.m. –  Aug. 3 and 24; Sept. 14

• 12:30 p.m. –  Oct. 5 and 19; Nov. 9

All of the walking tours will start from the old wooden bridge on George Street behind Anderson’s Candy Shop.

“After a loop around Richmond’s antique downtown, bridges and walkways, we’ll pass through a remarkable gallery of very impressive Victorian homes,” Shiel said. “Add in a couple of old churches, a retired school and the settlement’s original burial ground, and we’ll end up at the old farmhouses on Broadway out in McConnellville, where Richmond truly began.”

Ample parking stretches along the railroad trail from George Street north to Broadway Street. The best access for most drivers will be to turn west off Main Street/Route 12 onto Broadway. A maximum of about two dozen people can attend a particular walk. The cost is $10 in cash, payable before the start of each walk.

To register or for information, contact Shiel at 815-814- 6342 or at

“Leading tours is what I used to do for the [McHenry County] Conservation District and on an independent basis,” Shiel said. “After 20 years of not doing walks and programs, this is an itch that came back and needed a scratch.”

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