The Towanda Scout Troop 56 was organized in 1938 and originally chartered in 1944.
From TOWANDA, McLean County, Illinois, 1826-1976
Towanda Boy Scout Troop 56 was organized in 1938. James Curtis was the first Scoutmaster, followed by James Hutton. In 1942 Ed Wesley became Scoutmaster and served in that capacity, as well as Explorer Advisor, until 1960.
Through the years this group has engaged in money-raising projects which have supported its own activities, and benefited the entire community through donations such as a 16mm movie-sound projector in 1973. In 1974 a gift of $500 was made for playground equipment to be installed in North Park. In 1975 the same amount was given to the Library to help with furnishings when the move is made to the community building in the near future. Matching funds for the two latter gifts were voted by the Town Board.
Around 1945 Towanda sponsored free movies in the North Park. The scouts and their adult leaders built a trailer for selling popcorn, candy, pop, and sometimes hot dogs. Thus began the projects for financing troop activities such as canoe trips, fishing trips to Canada, educational trips, the purchase of camping equipment, canoes for the troop, and the major undertaking of building a scout cabin. The town board granted a permit in 1951 for this building, which was to house their trailer and equipment, as well as serve as a meeting place for the scouts. They and their adult leaders did most of the work which included felling the trees and sawing them into logs on the Enos Ellwood Stuart farm near the Mackinaw River. Most of the materials were donated. Three years were required for construction of the cabin. In February 1956 it was officially named Wesley Lodge in honor of Ed. Wesley who had been the inspiration and driving force for its completion.
Other money-making schemes included scrap-iron and paper drives and cleaning cornfields after the pickers. The most lucrative undertaking has been the annual “Pancake & Sausage Day” which was started in 1957. That first year only one hog was butchered. Since that time the project has expanded to the extent that twenty thousand pounds of pork were required in 1975.
Scouting in Towanda has also included cubs and explorers, all of whom assist with the annual money-raising affair.
There are four Eagle scouts from Troop 56: Norman Wesley, David L. Winter, Hunt Henderson, and George R. Womack III.
One of scouting’s highest adult honors is the Silver Beaver Award. Two men from this area have been recipients: Ed Wesley in 1959, and Bill B. Winter in 1968.