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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 1999

Ryan Opens New Visitors' Center At Giant City State Park

MAKANDA - Governor George H. Ryan cut the ribbon and opened a new visitors' center at the Giant City State Park that is designed to help tourism grow at the park and throughout Southern Illinois.

"You can't help but to feel good as you soak in the sights of this park," Ryan said. "It is a terrific destination for families from around the state and around the country. More than 1.3 million people visit Giant City each year and we want to continue to increase the number of tourists who visit this beautiful park.

"We want to welcome our visitors and provide them information about the bluffs and rock formations, the wildlife and Little Grassy Lake," the governor added.

Giant City had a visitors' center that was destroyed by fire in 1980. Construction on the new center began in 1998.

Ryan noted that the new $1.4 million center is more than just an attractive new building for Giant City, it also is an important investment in the Illinois economy.

"The tourism business is one of the most important in Illinois," Ryan said. "It contributes $21 billion to our state economy. Travel and tourism account for one in every 10 Illinois jobs. We want to make sure we are serving our customers so that they come back again and again and bring along friends, neighbors and relatives to enjoy the wonders of Giant City State Park."

The 4,725-square-foot visitors' center, which is located near Giant City Lodge, includes room for interpretive displays, an audio-visual room for educational programs, offices and a gift shop. The complex also includes a parking area for cars, buses and camper units. The stone and timber building is designed to fit in with the area's natural surroundings and to compliment the Lodge, which was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Giant City is a 4,000 acre state park in the Shawnee National Forest. The park, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is so named because the large sandstone bluffs and rock formations appear to form streets or alleys of a "giant city."


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