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Lover's Crouch

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

We Rock Islanders are occasionally bothered by the fact that we don't have a Lover's Leap anywhere in the vicinity—one of those rock shelves high on a pinnacle or a palisade from which some Romeo and Juliet leapt to their deaths. A lover's leap is worth at least an extra thousand tourists a year. We would have had one, too, had not Mother Nature intervened. Instead, we have a Lover’s Crouch.Our Rock Island tale begins in storybook fashion. 1827, a young Sioux Indian wandering through Iowa became lost in a snowstorm and found his way into a winter camp of Sauk Indians. The Sioux and the Sauk were bitter enemies, but custom decreed that the young man was safe so long as he accepted Sauk hospitality.

As you might have guessed, he spent his time falling in love with a young Sauk woman. As he left camp, he made arrangements with his love to return for her the following summer.

True to his word, he returned secretly. She was out in the field near Saukenuk, working with her mother. He whistled. They met and ran off together. Her brothers had spotted them leaving, went to get guns, and the chase was on.

A heavy thunderstorm rolled in. The two young lovers found shelter from both the storm and the brothers under a rock cliff beneath Black Hawk's Watch Tower.

Just as the pursuing brothers spotted the couple, and closed in, a thunderous crash of lightning shattered the cliffside, burying the two under tons of rock.

At that very place, a spring came forth from the rocks. It came to be called Indian Lovers Spring, and for several years early in the 20th century, a few Rock Islanders gathered each year to commemorate the death of the lovers. Then, it was forgotten. There is no longer even a path.

Water still trickles out of Indian Lovers Spring at the foot of Black Hawk's Watch Tower, and makes its way down to the Rock River, but those few hikers who come across the place by accident are not aware they are passing by Lover’s Crouch.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.

Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.