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WTTW Press Room

For Immediate Release:

November 6, 2006

WTTW11 Presents The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes with Geoffrey Baer

Premieres Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm and Sunday, December 10 at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm

Chicago, IL – Geoffrey Baer, well-known WTTW11 on-air host, producer and Chicago Architecture Foundation tour guide, will debut his newest, much-anticipated documentary The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes on Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30 pm. This is the fifth original documentary in Baer's highly successful multi-part series exploring the character of the regions surrounding Chicago. "Don't call them suburbs! The towns and small industrial cities of the Fox River Valley have a feeling all their own," says Baer. "We use boat, bike and car to explore the sixty miles of waterway as we tell the stories of this unique area." The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes debuts on WTTW11 on Tuesday, November 28 at 7:30 pm.

Host Geoffrey Baer has taken WTTW11 viewers all over the Chicago area in his popular television tours. He's twice cruised the Chicago River, hiked through the Loop's skyscraper canyons, explored the lakefront, visited diverse urban neighborhoods from onboard the ‘L', and profiled the history of Chicago's suburban regions to great acclaim from viewers and critics alike. The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes project was a welcome challenge for Baer. "The Fox River has always been an essential artery. It provided a food and water source for Native Americans, powered the waterwheels that turned some early settlers into rich men, and above all, it is the thread that connects a series of communities that are distinctive in the Chicago region," said host and writer Baer. "These communities have their origins not as suburbs dependent on the big city to the east, but as cities, towns and villages with special histories all their own."

The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes program weaves the region's stories together, moving from the Chain O' Lakes area near the Wisconsin border more than 60 miles down the Fox River to the peaceful woods south of Aurora. Baer and his crew navigate the region by vintage speed boat, Model T Ford and bicycle as they move north to south along the waterway.

Here is just a small sampling of the people, places and stories featured:

  • The Chain O' Lakes heyday as a playground for gangsters, tycoons and politicians
  • The long-lost era when floating beds of American Lotuses covered the lakes with fragrant blossoms
  • The factory in Antioch that makes fine china for Air Force One and U.S. embassies around the world
  • A ski jumping club in Fox River Grove that's an Olympic training center
  • One of the earliest forms of auto racing – the hill climb – resurrected in Algonquin
  • A hiking trail in a Carpentersville forest preserve that was once a motor speedway
  • How famous detective Allen Pinkerton got his start when he stumbled on a gang of counterfeiters near his home in West Dundee
  • The watches that made Elgin a household name throughout the world
  • The vast Kane County Flea Market
  • The Kane County Cougars minor league baseball team
  • The wealthy family that transformed St. Charles by building a one-of-a-kind exotic luxury hotel, a movie palace, a stunning art deco city hall and more
  • The Fox River Trolley Museum
  • Not one but two castles: Bettendorf (Vianden) Castle in Fox River Grove and Dunham Castle in Wayne
  • The eccentric millionaire who used his Geneva estate for research on levitation, secret codes embedded in Shakespeare's writings, and other subjects
  • Lincoln Highway, America's first coast-to-coast auto route
  • Fermilab in Batavia, the world's most powerful particle accelerator
  • The largest Hindu temple in North America in Bartlett
  • Mary Todd Lincoln's desperate visit to a medium in St. Charles and her stay at a mental hospital in Batavia
  • The rise and fall of industrial Aurora and its re-birth as Illinois' second largest city.

The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes captures the same energy, humor and intriguing storytelling that have made Baer's previous documentaries (Chicago By Boat: The River Tour, Chicago's Loop: A Walking Tour, Chicago's Lakefront, Chicago By 'L': Touring the Neighborhoods, Chicago's North Shore, South of Chicago: Suburbs, Steel Mills, Shoreline, Northwest of Chicago, Chicago's Western Suburbs:From Prairie Soil To Prairie Style and Chicago By Boat: The New River Tour) some of WTTW11's most popular original productions.

The Fox River Valley and Chain O'Lakes is an original production of WTTW11. Writer and host is Geoffrey Baer, producer is Dan Protess, associate producer and researcher is Susan Godfrey, associate producer is April Davis, executive producer is VJ McAleer.

More information about the production, and all of WTTW11's programming, is available at www.wttw.com.

Electronic artwork and interviews with the production team available upon request.

Major funding for The Fox River Valley and Chain O' Lakes is provided by:

WTTW11 Contact
Holly H. Gilson
Director, Corporate Communication
(773) 509-5424

WTTW11 Contact
Julia Maish
(773) 509-5551

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