Pana’s Treasures

A couple years ago, my friend Annie and I started meeting once a month or so to get together and play local tourists. Today we met in Pana, Illinois and discovered some awesome sites that qualify as Pana’s Treasures!

Anderson Prairie

Pana's treasures
The trees shaded our walk as the sun rose high in the sky.

Annie and I were thrilled when we saw a place to hike in Pana. Anderson Prairie Park is comprised of a 25 acre wildlife park. The area features remnants of the original Tall Grass Prairie of Illinois. Established in August of 1986, the park is managed by Pana High School Biology teacher Dave Nance. 

We walked the mile long 200 foot strip that once was the old historic Illinois Central Railroad bed.  With temperatures rising, it was a treat to walk through the shaded area, and see the grasslands.

Pana's treasures
I want to go back to be able to tour inside this cool butterfly house!

We kept walking until we came to the beautiful Tallgrass Butterfly House.

Pana’s Cathedral of the Prairie – St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

I had heard from my friend Jane how lovely St. Patrick’s, also called the Cathedral of the Prairie Catholic church is. Annie and I thought we would see if there was any chance to tour this church which is one of Pana’s Treasures.

The Lord works in mysterious ways. We had parked the car and we were looking to see if the church was open. Two teachers from the Cathedral school with very young charges came our way.

Cathedral on the Prairie
Father Rodney Schwartz gave us a tour of the beautiful St. Patrick’s church.

“Is the church open today?” we asked. They thought it was, but when the learned it was locked, they and the little ones turned in unison and hollered “Father” to Father Rodney Schwartz who just happened to be nearby. Father Schwarz was so kind to open this beautiful church to us. Was it a coincidence? I don’t think so, I think it was the little children bringing us a chance to worship in this historic place!

Cathedral Details

Father Schwartz said that the church building is based on the Italian Renaissance Romanesque architectural style. This was used at St. Francesco in Rimini Italy, and St Andreas in Mantua Italy, which is shaped in a cross like the Pana Cathedral.

The church was built under the direction of Father Moroney. Father Schwartz said there is speculation that the Cathedral would become the southern Diocese. While this didn’t happen, Pana became home to this beautiful church.

St. Patrick's church
These stained glass windows have replaced the simpler once that were originally in the church.

The church was dedicated in March of 1927. Today many attend and worship in this lovely church along with the students at the adjoining Sacred Heart Catholic school!

Thank you Father Schwartz for allowing us into this church, one of Pana’s treasures!

Roadside attractions

Pana's Treasures

There is a Giant woman’s hand on the outskirts of Pana. Annie and I headed out on Route 16 and we found it!

Local businessman Joe Coleman moved this from a cow pasture in Ramsey. It was originally used for advertising in Chicago. The hand measures 18 feet from nails to wrist. The palm is 6 feet wide making a perfect place to pose. The hand weighs in at a whopping 1,000 pounds.

The hand isn’t alone. There is also a huge weather vane and Justin boot alongside it as well! More Pana’s Treasures indeed!

Abraham Lincoln in Rosamund

Annie and I at Rosamund Cemetery.

Down the road is Rosamund Cemetery. Here there is an amazing sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. The statue was placed in 1903 in memory of the Union soldiers and sailors “and of their beloved commander in chief”.

Lincoln statue at Rosamund Cemetery

Lincoln is standing with his hand outstretched and facing the beautiful fields. He is rumored to have stopped in this area when doing his law circuit.

What a wonderful day in Central Illinois checking out some of Pana’s treasures. What have you seen lately that you have loved?

Pana is part of Christian County and there are lots of things to see and do like visit the history museum or check out Lincoln statues on the Taylorville square!.

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  1. David Nance

    Cindy, thanks for the great information about Pana and the prairie and butterfly house. We also have a Pana History Museum that you would love to see! Hopefully, if you get down this way in the future, we can tour that also. It is set up in an 1870’s building on Oak Street and Second. I am the curator and Mike Cross owns the building. There are some great treasures there.

    1. Cindy

      David, Thanks for information! I would love to tour the butterfly house, what a cool idea. I didn’t know about the Pana History Museum and I would love to see that as well! I will have to keep that in mind next time I am that direction. Thank you for sharing. I am impressed how many neat things Pana has to offer! I have written before about the amazing Chautauqua building as well, cool history in this section of Christian County.