Located on Dee Bennett Road approximately .7 mile west of the Starved Rock Marina and .5 mile south of the Illinois Michigan Canal is a multi-story stone building known by various names. These names are: Spring Valley House, the Half-way House, the Sulfur Springs Hotel or the Wayside Inn. It was located midway on a stage coach route between Chicago and Saint Louis.
The official history is that the hotel was built in 1852 by Joel Smith. However, from observation of the building it is evident that it was built in stages.
The walls were made of 30 inch sandstone. The wood beams were
fastened with wood pegs. On the ground floor, there was a bar and dining rooms; the next floor had a parlor and reception room; the next floor had 12 guest rooms each with its own fireplace; finally the top floor had a ballroom.
There were natural springs in the area back of the house. These had a high concentration of sulfur. Many guest frequented the hotel for medicinal benefits of these springs.
Among the famous guests at this hotel were Abraham Lincoln, Jennifer Lind, and possibly Edward, Prince of Wales
In 1862, the hotel was converted to a farm house. Owners included: J. Neil, Henry Zimmerman, Maurice Keating, Lucille Keating, and the state of Illinois.
The area surrounding the hotel is also the site of Kaskasia. This was an Illinois Indian Village from 1673–1700. It is a National Historic Landmark. This is also owned by the state of Illinois.
Both the hotel and the Kaskia sites are kept very private by the state.