A hot spot in Bettendorf for high school students’ senior pictures, dog walkers and at least one auto mechanic may draw additional passersby this spring.
Somewhat hidden, east of Duck Creek Parkway, a small waterfall — enhanced by recent rains — cascades down beds of limestone along an unnamed tributary and descends into Duck Creek, just north of State Street.
“If you don’t get out on the trail, you might not have any idea it exists,” said Steve Grimes, Bettendorf's director of parks and recreation. “It really is gorgeous back in there.”
Although some Quad-Citians might not be familiar with the natural attraction, Travel Iowa, touted as the state’s official tourism website, featured it in the top 10 of its 13 "Wonderful Waterfalls" throughout the state.
The waterfall, which has not been named, is the only one in the Quad-City area that made the list, which was curated from "internal staff knowledge, suggestions from travelers and other traveler resources," Travel Iowa reports.
Grant Auto Repair's property at 4036 State St., Bettendorf, basically abuts the rushing stream near Devils Glen Park.
Greg Poley opened the business there in 2012 when the Iowa Department of Transportation acquired his previous property for the realignment of State and Grant streets and the Interstate-74 bridge project.
“It was one of the factors that pushed me into the lot,” he said, referring to the setting. “It’s not very often you get a picnic table and a waterfall for a breakroom.”
The public picnic table Poley mentioned overlooks the waterfall. Nearby, a pedestrian bridge that crosses over Duck Creek also offers views of the gorge.
The city of Bettendorf owns the land, but Poley called himself the “caretaker” of the area. When a giant oak tree fell and buried the waterfall last winter, he and two others cleared the debris.
Walter Schwan, a retiree who lives in Davenport, said he discovered the mess, which disrupted the flow of the water. So, he went to work and filled about 80 yard-waste bags with bark over the course of a month. He tossed loose branches, decomposing leaves and muck up on the surrounding banks.
"I wanted it to look the way it should," he said.
During one of his cleanup sessions, Schwan said Ken Enstrom, a retired Deere & Co. engineer, walked by with his wife and offered to help.
The following day, Enstrom showed up with his electric saw and gasoline-powered generator, Schwan said. Just a couple of days later, Poley arrived with his "big" chainsaw.
“The city told me I can cut down whatever I want,” Poley said. “I trucked seven loads of firewood out of there.”
Schwan, who worked for 35 years at International Harvester's combine plant in East Moline, said he happened upon the waterfall near the end of last year during a walk with his two Standard Poodles.
Now, he routinely visits the site to listen to the water and watch it feed into Duck Creek. He said it helps clear his mind.
Schwan said the waterfall also "cast a spell" on him, sparking an interest in geology and forestry.
"You appreciate it more if you know something about it," he said. "It's a spiritual place."