ILLINOIS STYLE: New river museum opens in Grand Tower

Southern Illinois' towns on the Mississippi River have been immortalized in Elzie Segar's Chester-inspired Popeye cartoons and Mark Twain 's mention of Cairo in the "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Between ... Full Story
Peter Shenkin

Pleasanton, CA

#1 Jun 16, 2008
When I attended SIU, Carbondale in the '60s, I'd often visit Grand Tower. Of course, the big attraction was Ma Hale's restaurant, but I well remember the bluffs by the river, the cable ferry, the pipeline suspension bridge, and the park by the water with the locomotive that one could climb on and ring the bell. Incidentally, Mark Twain mentions Grand Tower in "Life on the Mississippi."
JoanLee

Rockford, IL

#2 Dec 9, 2009
Peter Shenkin wrote:
When I attended SIU, Carbondale in the '60s, I'd often visit Grand Tower. Of course, the big attraction was Ma Hale's restaurant, but I well remember the bluffs by the river, the cable ferry, the pipeline suspension bridge, and the park by the water with the locomotive that one could climb on and ring the bell. Incidentally, Mark Twain mentions Grand Tower in "Life on the Mississippi."
I well remember Ma Hale's in the late 60's/70's, I was also a student at SIU. I think it's the most interesting geographic area of IL.
Elanor Togliatti

Castro Valley, CA

#3 Feb 3, 2011
But, is Ma Hale's still there?

Since: Oct 10

Location hidden

#4 Feb 3, 2011
Elanor Togliatti wrote:
But, is Ma Hale's still there?
I lived in Grand Tower in the mid 80's. By then, Ma Hale's had been taken over but it was not the same. I heard wonderful things about it, though! It closed and it is my understanding that the the building burned down a few years ago. You may be able to get more info by going to the Grand Tower topix forum or the Murphysboro topix forum.
Lee Rothman

Pinole, CA

#5 Apr 29, 2011
I too have fond memories heading out to Ma Hales on a Sunday for an "all you could eat" buffett of fried chicken along with bowls full of fresh veggies and mashed potatoes. Since as a student we weren't famous for our own cooking, it was a welcome treat to head over there for that nice drive from Carbondale to the river. I never lost weight going there that's for sure. This was in 1972-73 time frame. Sad to see it is yet one more place you can't revisit. The memory will live on however...
TLA

Enfield, IL

#6 Jul 2, 2011
My grandpa was a milkman. He delivered to Ma Hales. We would go down for their fried chicken served family style. Trips to Grand Tower and to Ma Hales are some of my most favorite memories from childhood.
observed

Slater, MO

#7 Jul 2, 2011
maybe we could sell them a brand new(under warranty)visitor center, maybe some bricks to help sweeten the deal
keebler

Lombard, IL

#8 Nov 25, 2011
I remember attending Ma Hales 90th birthday party in the park along the river next to the steam engine ... I believe in 71 or 72. Great time, great lady. Guess I hoped the family would carry on the tradition. I also remember the pipeline folks doing lots of inspections of the MO support when it was underwater during the 73 flood... Great memories!
Sparhawks

Plano, TX

#9 Dec 29, 2011
My husband and I went to SIU and we have such great memories of Ma Hales (69-73)! What a great place to have enjoyed and it was cheap enough that the college kids could go. Mmmm ...some good home cooking family style. Too bad it is no longer there, as I am sure the locals must miss it.
Ann Tilden

Brooklyn, NY

#10 Apr 13, 2012
Ah, Ma Hale's! What a great memory! I haven't thought about them in a long time. Great food, pleasant company saving people from Brush Towers from their own cooking in the early 70's. Watching the river from there made me want to ride down the Mississippi on a raft.
michael mitchell

Anaheim, CA

#11 Aug 25, 2012
i loved that place it had the home cooking and made you feel at home.

I married a girl that went there once lasted 1 1/2 years, i think it was all

ma's fault her cooking was not enough for me. Just kidding. i grew up down there now i am in ca. next to disneyland, ma was a sweet lady. It made the chicken taste better. table cloths all down home like, made you feel like you were in an old time movie with the beverly hill billies. great trees around a big old house like place, with the river next door, mark twain was close to there.
I always wondered if it went under water if the river over flowed. Then i hear it burnt, that is the opposite than what i would think would happen. the grass was green down there. really green. god bless her - thanks to ma hales. it was great.!
Wayne Bentel

Eureka Springs, AR

#12 Jan 7, 2013
I remember Ma Hale's from the early 70's while attending SIU. Best chicken dinners ever.
Peter Shenkin wrote:
When I attended SIU, Carbondale in the '60s, I'd often visit Grand Tower. Of course, the big attraction was Ma Hale's restaurant, but I well remember the bluffs by the river, the cable ferry, the pipeline suspension bridge, and the park by the water with the locomotive that one could climb on and ring the bell. Incidentally, Mark Twain mentions Grand Tower in "Life on the Mississippi."
Tim Hohs

Roosevelt, UT

#13 Mar 18, 2013
Ma Hales was the best. I used to ride out there from Carbondale on my motorcycle all the time. Once I arrived too late and the doors had closed but the woman who answered my knock looked me up and down, surmised I was too skinny, and let me in anyway. I remember Ma Hale, sitting on her rocker watching all the kids serve food, one of the grand kids bringing me some extra pie I didn't ask for, heading home stuffed. That was a great place. It's kind of strange but while I remember the food I don't remember much about the geography of the area. Were they only open on Sundays? That's when I used to go there.
Brian

Coldwater, MS

#14 Mar 24, 2013
We had a friend we visited that went to SIU. A group of us went hiking for the day. The mosquitos were thick on the trail. When we finished we were all starved! Our friend took us the Ma Hales. What a great experience. We had fried chicken and all those wonderful homemade veggies. The pie was wonderful. This took place in 1969 or 1970.

Twenty years later my wife and I were talking about Ma Hales on a flight and the person behind us chimed in about his experience. It is a small world.
Brett C

Deerfield, IL

#15 Nov 24, 2013
Ah yes, Ma Hale's, one of the quintessential Southern Illinois experiences for so many years and so many SIU students. I started at SIU in 1964 and before too log that was one of the semi-regular (at least once a semester) trips... great food, wonderful friendly people, nice scenic drive... great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Southern Illinois. I suppose now there is really nothing quite like it down there... now it is all winery tours and fast food chains I suppose. The wineries are nice enough but they don't have the same cachet as things like Ma Hale's chicken dinners and White Pie.
Keith

Denver, CO

#16 Jan 15, 2014
Ma Hale's is gone!!??? I went to school down there and loved every aspect of southern Illinois. But Ma Hal's was one of those few, rare places that you feel lucky to have visited and enjoyed.
Judy

Buffalo Grove, IL

#17 May 31, 2014
Went to SIU 70-72 and Ma Hales was a a great way to end a Sat afternoon after exploring around the Mississippi. Actually brought our kids to southern Illinois and stayed in the cabins in Giant City in the late 1980s and made sure we ate at Ma Hales. I'm so glad I got this opportunity before it was gone. Great memories.
Mark

Quarryville, PA

#18 Jul 13, 2014
I grew up in Southern IL, my dad worked at SIU... We'd go to Devil's Backbone Park, play on the locomotive, swim if the river wasn't too high, play on the bank. Then we'd go into town and have dinner at Ma Hale's. good memories, my dad loved it, he could feed all of us for cheap. Then we'd go see the giant turtle... Or tortoise, I don't remember. It was actually kind of sad, it was huge and in a small tank. Anyone remember that?

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