Lowell Park – Dixon, Illinois

Lots of people know that Ronald Reagan grew up in Dixon, Illinois. His boyhood home is part of a declared National Historic Site (more on that tomorrow). Some people know the tales of Reagan saving 77 people from drowning while working as a lifeguard. Fewer probably know where he worked as a lifeguard at, and fewer still know anything about the place. At least that’s my take. Today I share with you Lowell Park in Dixon, Illinois.

National Register plaque, Lowell Park

The park is just north of Dixon along the Rock River, where Reagan pulled the otherwise (probably) doomed swimmers from. Work began on the 200 acre public park in 1907, by 1908 Arthur Coleman Comey was hired as superintendent on a recommendation from John Olmstead. He began to implement suggestions from a 1906 report the famed Olmstead Brothers (Frederick Law, and John) compiled for the city of Dixon.

The park’s natural features take precedent over the designed features

During his tenure as superintendent, Comey drew landscaping plans, and plans for the caretaker’s home, a Dutch Colonial Revival home known as Woodcote. Woodcote’s two gambrel roofs (wiki) form a pent which creates large overhanging, flaring eaves. You might be more familiar with Dutch Colonial Revival style than you think, the house in the Amityville Horror was a Dutch Colonial home. Comey also cataloged over 150 species of birds within the park while superintendent.

1909 – Woodcote, designed by Arthur Coleman Comey

Woodcote interior

The beach where Reagan saved the swimmers, according to the tale, is along the Rock River, I wasn’t sure of the exact location, but I snapped the picture below. The river is visible in the distance (I know it’s not a great photo). Reagan worked as a lifeguard here from 1926 until he finished school at Eureka College in 1932.

The Rock River (visible in the distance) is where Reagan plucked 77 swimmers from while working as a lifeguard.

There are numerous structures and objects in the park that help make it historic; historic in the sense that it represents high quality landscape architecture that doesn’t overwhelm its natural environment.

The historic limestone water pump outside of Woodcote

The historic pump above is near Woodcote, other historic structures include 7 shelters built with Works Progress Administration funds, a concession stand, a bathhouse, a pump house, the entrance pillars (another WPA project) and other assorted stone objects and structures. Part of the park’s very identity is found in the numerous small quarry stones set during the 1920 which separate roadways from picnic and recreation areas.

Lowell Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as a historic district, in August 2006. The park was submitted under what is known as a Multiple Property Submission (MPS) (wiki explanation by me – a bit bureaucratic I fear). An MPS makes the submission of properties to the Register in the future a much easier task. An MPS usually constitutes an MPS cover sheet which is a report that provides lengthy details about the property type, it’s usually an excellent resource. The title of the MPS cover that includes Lowell Park’s Register submission is “Historic Resources of Dixon Parks”, the cover isn’t available online yet but I would look for other Dixon, Illinois parks to be submitted for inclusion consideration on the Register in the future.

You can learn more about Lowell Park from the National Register nomination form I have linked below.

Online Resources

*Lowell Park: Official site (Warning: Loud bird chirping upon opening – turn volume down before clicking)

*Lowell Park: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

*Dixon, Illinois: Ronald Reagan Trail information

Haunted Historic Galena, Illinois Beckons Tourists to Seek Civil War Ghosts

Tourists to historic Galena, Illinois sometimes find more than the old world charm of a Civil War era town. They sometimes see ghosts, too.

Galena, Illinois, like many other historically-significant industrial revolution cities, was once in danger of dying out economically. A major player in U.S. lead production, the town was nearly decimated when the demand for lead ore took a dive.

It certainly was not for lack of character. The town and area had long been known for its culture and historical significance. A walk down the city’s main street is something akin to stepping back over a hundred years in time.

It still bears much of the architecture that was common place in the early 1900’s. One can’t help but feel lost in the past amidst the tall, brown brick structures.

Groups like the Galena Historical Society have worked hard over the years to preserve and maintain many of the town’s historical structures. Many of the area’s artifacts are held in the Galena History Museum.

A large number of these artifacts relate to the lead mining industry or the Civil War. Interpreters there explain their significance in local culture.

Serious efforts to revive the town began around the early 1980’s. It was during these years that many downtown businesses, some of which had been located there for decades, began closing or relocating. City and tourism officials were alarmed and began to look for ways to bring business, and visitors, back to the downtown area.

Officials and residents knew that Galena, Illinois had a great deal to offer, thanks to its colorful history. Sites like Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant’s former home, Dowling House and the Belvedere Mansion give visitors a taste of yesteryear. Tourists get a glimpse of what it was like to live there over 100 years ago.

City, tourism and representatives of the business community began meeting to pool ideas for increasing Galena’s popularity. These efforts have given rise to a number of community initiatives, like Vision 2020; meant to generate interest and business in the city. Vision 2020 hopes to implement a number of new community-generated ideas by the year 2020.

Another unique tourist attraction borne out of the pooling of minds was the Haunted Galena Tour. Conceived by the owners of the Annie Wiggins Guest House, it was designed to personalize the history of the town.

Tourists, whether staying at the bed and breakfast or not, are able to take a foot tour of the town. The tour is led by the fictional “Annie Wiggins”, a “ghost” of Galena, Illinois. The tour treks throughout historic downtown Galena, visiting many of the areas “haunts”, like Dowling House and the local cemetery.

Both public initiatives, like Vision 2020, and private ventures like the “Haunted Galena Tour” have done a great deal for the town. They have injected a new vibrancy into the business community, which enjoys a healthy rate of tourism year-round.

Today, many of Galena, Illinois’ old structures have been revived to keep the ghosts of miners and the Civil War pacified. After all, it is these “ghosts” that so many people are now coming to the city to “see”. The ghosts, in fact, may be exactly what have kept it from becoming a “ghost town”.

Carlos Lattin House – Sycamore, Illinois – Historic Architecture Abounds – NRHP

Carlos Lattin was the first permanent settler in the DeKalb county seat of Sycamore, Illinois. Lattin arrived in Sycamore in 1835 and constructed a log cabin near the site of present-day downtown Sycamore, just north of Downtown Shoes, at 307 S. State St. (Illinois 64). The site is marked by a plaque at that address.

In 1854 Lattin had a new home constructed in the 300 block of Somonauk St. The 1854 Greek Revival house still stands and is considered part of the Sycamore Historic District. The home also exhibits the traits of the Upright and Wing style shown in the Lampert-Wildflower House in Belvidere, Illinois, although it is executed more elegantly here, in the Greek Revival Lattin House.

Lattin worked as a farmer and lumber dealer, eventually serving as DeKalb County Treasurer. He also worked as a correspondent for the Chicago Democrat.

The Sycamore Historic District became part of the National Register of Historic Places in May of 1978.

Online Resources

*Carlos Lattin House: 1970s photograph

*Wikipedia: Carlos Lattin House, Sycamore Historic District (by me – as are the related articles)

*Sycamore Historic District: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

Follow the Gonzo trail to Lee County tomorrow, with a quick stop before we hit Dixon. Stay tuned.

A note about Sycamore’s historic district: There are over two hundred properties in the boundaries of the Sycamore Historic District. Of those 187 are contributing properties to the historic district, 22 are non-contributing. Of all of the district’s homes and buildings 75% fit the historic district concept. Some of the major structures include several Queen Anne style mansions, the town library, the county courthouse, and dozens of mid to late 19th century houses.

Illinois State Police Office – Pontiac, Illinois – Historic Buildings and Architecture

Just south of Pontiac on Old U.S. Route 66 is an Illinois State Police Office, now abandoned, that was built during World War II and served as the Illinois State Police District 6 headquarters until it was vacated in 2004. The Art Moderne (closely related to Art Deco) building gives off a sleek, streamlined look through its use of glass bricks, curved corners and smooth surfaces.

The structure is a relatively recent addition to the National Register of Historic Places, added on March 7, 2007. The rural setting is particularly appealing. The building stands on the abandoned southbound lanes of Old Route 66, a stretch of the Mother Road that is itself recognized by the National Register, while the northbound lane is still in use as a two-lane highway going both directions. The roadbed was discussed .in another article you can view at my website or here on Ezinearticles

Sleek Art Moderne elements add a futuristic feel to the building.

The glass bricks around the entrance really give the building that futuristic feel, imagine the impact in 1941. I have loved glass bricks as an architectural element ever since I was a small child, we had a few in our basement windows.

Smooth surfaces are another of the Art Moderne influences.

The really interesting thing about this building is what happened to it after the state police left for better, newer digs. For awhile, its future was up in the air; the state struggled to find an owner who could afford to maintain the building, which had its share of problems when the police left. Finally, after trying to sell it, the state passed a law which passed ownership of the building to Livingston County; it was considered a victory for historic preservationists and Route 66 enthusiasts alike.

Some graffiti was noted during my visit, I guess it’s fun to vandalize the police station.

Despite the change in ownership, the building was still vacant when I visited last fall. It is going to take some work to get it up to par, besides the problems with plumbing and other issues the building already had, persistent vandalism will have to be cleaned up and prevented.

Online Resources

*Wikipedia: Illinois State Police Office (Pontiac) (by me)

*Illinois State Police Office: National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form

*Illinois State Police Office: Public Act 095-0388; transferred ownership of the building to Livingston County

*Illinois State Police District 6: Official website

Back to Sycamore tomorrow, then over to Lee County and Dixon, Illinois as we approach the day Ronald Reagan was born, and venture to learn a little more about our 40th President. (Note: I am not a Republican or a Reagan fan, but I am a history fan – those of you who know me, know this. We will return to Route 66 soon enough. Stay tuned.

Travel Historic Route 66 Through Arizona

Route 66 can trace it’s history back to the late 1920’s when it was first proposed and laid out. However it was not until 1938 that the road was completely paved from it’s eastern beginning in Chicago, Illinois to it’s western terminus in Santa Monica, CA some 2,450 miles later. Of course the route can be traveled either eastwardly or westerly though most Route 66 travelers prefer to head from east to west just as the Joad family did in John Steinbeck’s famous literary work, The Grapes of Wrath.

Sadly, Route 66 began to be replaced in the 1960’s by new Interstate highways that bypassed many small towns along the way and was removed completely from the interstate highway system in 1985. However in part to many Route 66 organizations, small town chambers of commerce, enthusiasts and historians a plenty refused to let it die. Over the past 25 years there has been a new resurgence of heritage tourism that has rekindled interest in preserving this great piece of Americana history & nostalgia that is Route 66.

Often referred to as “The Mother Road”, “America’s Main Street” or “Will Rogers Highway” the route passes through eight different states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. Let’s take a look at the state of Arizona in more detail.

Arizona

Heading west, Arizona is the 7th of the 8 Route 66 states and has 401 miles from border to border. It boasts some of the most beautiful scenery, a few of the most unique must-see establishments, the highest elevation and the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66 on the entire journey.

Geographically, Arizona is home to Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. These locations make for some incredible photo opportunities but also a chance for exploring and hiking these natural attractions.

About 75 miles into Arizona, past both the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert is the town of Holbrook. Home to the Wigwam Village Motel, most Route 66 travelers look forward to sleeping in a tepee and many cite this landmark as a highlight of their trip. Further west is Joseph City, a Mormon establishment set up in the late 1870’s. Located in Joseph City is the famous Jackrabbit Trading Post. One of the most well known signature sites of Route 66 is the famous billboard that exclaims “HERE IT IS” located at the Jackrabbit Trading Post.

Further west past the Meteor Crater and the towns of “standin’ on the corner” Winslow, the extinct Two Guns, the abandoned Twin Arrows and the “don’t forget” Winona lies the city of Flagstaff. Flagstaff is home to the famous Lowell Observatory and is also the gateway to the Grand Canyon located an hours drive north. The canyon is well worth a side trip off Route 66 to see one of the eight natural wonders of the world. If you’d rather you can also access the spectacular Grand Canyon via the Grand Canyon Railway out of Williams just 30 or so miles west of Flagstaff. Between Flagstaff and Williams lies Brannigan Peak. At 7,320 feet above sea level it is the highest point of elevation along the entire route of Rt. 66.

15 miles west of Williams is Ash Fork, the flagstone capital of the world. Just past Ash Fork you can say goodbye to I-40 as you begin the longest unbroken stretch of Route 66 on the entire journey. Be sure to stop at the legendary Snow Cap Drive-in in Seligman and the fascinating general store in Hackberry before arriving in Kingman. Here you’ll find many still-preserved business establishments catering to the Route 66 traveler including a very well done museum.

Be sure to leave Kingman while you still have daylight because you’re not going to miss the incredible scenery that lies ahead as you travel through the Black Mountain switchbacks & hairpins ahead. Oatman awaits, as do the many wild burros that call the old mining town home. Be sure to check out the historic Oatman hotel where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon.

Leaving Oatman you can take a quick side trip over to the casinos of Laughlin Nevada and try your luck or you can continue on through Golden Shores, Topock and get back onto I-40 to cross the mighty Colorado River into California.

Route 66 Adventure Handbook

“Get Your Kicks on Route 66” was a popular song from the 40’s, sung by Nat King Cole, that helped bring that long stretch of road – Route 66 – to fame. Now you can get your own kicks on Route 66 if you bring along the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, as it will lead you to many of the hidden, and not-so-hidden, gems along this road.

Route 66 was one of the first highways in the United States, with completion coming in 1926. It runs from Chicago to California, and travels through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, on its way to Santa Monica, California. In the 1950s, following President Eisenhower’s signing of a bill which saw the creation of the “Interstate Highway system” and numerous major, “super highways” being built, many people assumed the famous road was all but dead. But while these new highways challenged the reign of Route 66 and as the author of the Route 66 Adventure Handbook notes, it seemed for a while that the famous road was fading into oblivion, thankfully, travelers eventually recognized the unique qualities of this famous route, and now it is enjoying a resurgence.

Now in its fifth edition, the Route 66 Adventure Handbook is divided into chapters by state, running southwest from Illinois to California. Each chapter includes multitudes of attractions, far more than I’ve seen in other travel books. And many of these attractions are spots that are missed by other books, places that are about as unique as Cadillac Ranch where car “art” shows real Cadillacs partially buried, “… which are said to be positioned at the same angle as the sides of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.” (pg. 290) In addition, each chapter also includes a “Further Afield” section where attractions, just a short distance away from the famous route, can be found.

The Route 66 Adventure Handbook is written in an easy-to-read/follow style and the layout is easy on the eyes which makes this book perfect for picking up and referring to over and over. There is so much to choose from for your road-trip visits within its pages that you’ll want to start searching through the book long before your trip begins. My top pick from the plethora of attractions in this book has to be “Big Brutus” – a giant, and I mean GIANT! (“the second-largest ever built”) – power shovel in West Mineral, KS. A photograph of Brutus shows a car parked next to it which gives you a good idea of just how large Brutus is. And I must mention all the photographs because this book is chock full of them – almost every attraction mentioned is accompanied by a good, clear photo. To make it even easier to find, below each photo is the GPS location of the attraction. If you’re planning a trip to explore Route 66, whether a quick escape along a portion of the road, or an adventure enjoying the full, 2,000-plus mile route, be sure to take the Route 66 Adventure Handbook with you so you won’t miss a single attraction on this famous road.

Quill says: John Steinbeck called Route 66 “The Mother Road” in The Grapes of Wrath, and for good reason. Now, with the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, you can explore this fantastic stretch of asphalt and enjoy all the unique jewels it has to offer, jewels that others without the handbook may miss. Get the book, hop in your car, and start driving!

Adolphus W Brower House – Sycamore, Illinois – Historic Architecture Abounds

Weary from my recent journey I again return to Sycamore, Illinois suffering from severe a case of Republican-icon-overload. Breathe in, sigh, I am back and will be soothed. Soothed by picture perfect Italianate style. At 705 DeKalb Avenue in Sycamore is a high-style example of Italianate in the Adolphus W. Brower House.
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The house featured an original scrollwork porch, which was reflected on the enclosed porch of the rectangular bay on the east side of the house. The porch balustrade (wiki) has been altered sometime since the late 1970s.
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When the house was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 it was called a postcard perfect example of the style upon its approval, which came on Valentine’s Day in 1979.
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Adolphus W. Brower was, in his day, a rather well-known hardware merchant in early Sycamore. I am unsure whether he was any particular relation to the prominent Sycamore attorney Floyd E. Brower, whose home was discussed in another related article I authored. Unfortunately, the National Register documentation for the Adolphus Brower House is not yet available online at the time of writing this article or I would have linked you to it.
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Online Resources For Further Information

*Adolphus W. Brower House: Old Photos (NRHP archive) – 1978
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Tomorrow we stick around the area and investigate Prairie style architecture examples in the county of DeKalb.
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Sycamore, Illinois is a city of approximately 15,000 residents, located in DeKalb County, of which it is the county seat. Sycamore was settled in 1835, primarily north of the Kishwaukee River.

National Register of Historic Places – David Syme House – Sycamore, Illinois – Historic Architecture

If you find yourself in the Sycamore, Illinois area with nothing to do, more specifically if you find yourself in the 800 block of Somonauk Street in Sycamore, undoubtedly viewing the Chauncey Ellwood House and Esther Mae Nesbitt House, you could walk south. Walk until you hit the 400 block. At 420 Somonauk is the stately David Syme House. It’s a Queen Anne style home that is part of a group known as “painted ladies” (wiki-not the greatest but good enough).
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The David Syme House was designed by architect George O. Garnsey, who designed several other prominent local structures, as well as buildings in other Illinois communities (more on both topics in other articles by me). Garnsey was a Chicago-based architect who helped design many buildings after the Great Chicago Fire and what is theh current Illinois State Capitol.
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The Syme house has two prominent circular turrets, common on Queen Anne style houses. The Syme House also has a hipped roof (wiki) with cross gables (wiki), a feature found on about 50 percent of Queen Anne style homes.
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David Syme came to Sycamore in 1868 and the home at 420 Somonauk cost him about $8,000 around 1880. Syme served as a local bank president as well as mayor and president of the Sycamore School Board.
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Sycamore, Illinois is a city of approximately 15,000 residents, located in DeKalb County, of which it is the county seat. Sycamore was settled in 1835, primarily north of the Kishwaukee River.
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Sycamore is well worth the visit for any architecture student, history buff or photo-journalist. The National Register of Historic Places is an excellent combination of the two feilds well worth the look for connisuers of either specialty.

Planning a Trip to Illinois

Illinois, which is the fifth most populous state in the United States, is also one of the most visited spots in the country. Chicago is the central industrial city of this state. But it also has other cities that you would find very interesting. This part of the U.S. boasts of having so many museums.
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Here is where you will find the largest presidential library in the entire country. It’s called the state of the art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Other equally amazing museums include the Museum of Science and Industry, John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Field Museum of Natural History. All these museums will give you a glimpse of the state’s history and culture.
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Aside from the museums, you will also find park system, which started in 1908. It is now called the Fort Massac State Park. It is comprised of more than a hundred of parks, wildlife preserves, and recreational areas. Some of the natural attractions that you should check out include the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor, the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, the American Discovery Trail, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield.

Of course, there is no way you can miss the statue of Clark Kent in Superman Costume, the Metropolis Planet newspaper, and the Super Museum if you are a big fan of this world famous superhero. All these attractions would make your trip to Illinois unforgettable.

World Discovery Club Review – Fair and Balanced

What is World Discovery Club?

Did you ever dream of travelling around the world hopping from one island to another then one country to another? Many people dream the same thing. It’s just that the travelling lifestyle is too expensive for all but the super rich. With World Discovery Club coming into the picture, however, traveling need not be postponed because this new direct sales business is offering you the opportunity to travel and earn at the same time.

Not that WDC is the only direct sales travel club promoting a travel membership program. Think of Global Resorts Network (GRN) and Resorts 360 as two well known examples.

Anyway…

In November 18, 2011 World Discovery Club was founded to meet the need for a travel membership club that makes it possible for members to travel in style without the steep cost of travelling.

At the same time, the club allows members to set up their own home-based business tapping into the multi-trillion dollar industry while enjoying perks and discounted prices for accommodation and other travel-related products.

World Discovery Club was founded by Matt and Catherine Willis together with Jon Shugart. All three leaders of the company have extensive experience in internet marketing and the travel industry. Banking on their experience, the company was launched in Decatur, Illinois.

About the Travel Products

As a growing online and offline business opportunity, World Discovery Club (WDC) prides itself on offering value-driven products and travel club memberships with prices ranging from $500 up to $20,000. Members of the club get to enjoy attractive deals including the following:

  • The largest inventory of rental condos anywhere
  • Exclusive luxury condo resorts
  • Vacation homes and luxury villas
  • Exclusive hotel prices not available to the public
  • Discounted airline tickets
  • Arrangement for live performances
  • Discounted car rental or auto hire arrangements
  • And lots more besides

The perks seem to be endless and WDC member’s privileges are good which gives travel enthusiasts with a business mind to live their dreams while also pursuing financial freedom.

One point should be made about the condo inventory. Travel Clubs like WDC source most if not all of their inventory from time share resellers. Some of this inventory is of a very high five star standard, but much of it is down scale – in the 3 star category. Another point: available inventory outside of the USA is often restricted. For example in a country like Australia it is quite difficult to procure time share inventory through a travel club.

The reasons for this are twofold: firstly, resorts in Australia tend to be smaller than typical American resorts (so they fill up faster) and secondly Australian time share owners use their memberships more fulsomely than their American counterparts, which results in very low availability for Travel Clubs such as WDC.

The WDC Opportunity

Joining the rapidly growing network of WDC means members get instant access to their own personal ‘travel agency’ giving you a chance to save up to 85% or more on your own travel adventures. In addition, members can sell the membership to other and earn attractive commissions. The company has developed proven and tested advertising and marketing techniques, plus expert advice helping new aspiring members to get started on the right footing.

To be a WDC member, you can choose from various start-up levels that will fit many budgets. And in exchange for the one-time membership fee is the opportunity to enjoy lifetime savings, travel incentive and business profits. There are currently six value packs WDC offers to its members, which start at $497.

When you become an affiliate for WDC, you can start your home-based business instantly using the company’s business model. The following business tools are also included to help you kick off the business right:

  • State of the art marketing system
  • Multiple custom landing pages
  • Auto-responders and video email system

WDC Compensation Plan

Once you become a WDC member, you can help other people enjoy the same travel incentives by referring new customers. In exchange, you get paid in the form of commissions for every successful referral.

WDC’s direct sales compensation plan offers the incentive of getting paid through large commissions and bonuses. WDC’s Dynamic Infinity program is currently gaining buzz so members can earn additional income through incentives and generous unit based bonuses. As the WDC associate grows his or her organization, the earning potential grows. As you market the brand’s full line of quality products and travel club memberships, associates earn profits for their efforts.

Commissions will vary according to the membership level you sell AND the membership level you own yourself, but as a guide potential commissions start at $300 and can be as high as $12,000 for the top membership package.

Is WDC For You?

The travel industry is truly a lucrative market to get into and just as enticing is the WDC opportunity where you can travel in style enjoying good discounts and an array of travel incentives. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you love travel and you also want to make some big dollars, WDC could be perfect for you.

Keep in mind that World Discovery Club is a top tier big ticket program – only a small percentage of the ‘make money in travel’ market will be able to afford this program. That is NOT to say that you cannot make money from big ticket product marketing. You can, but the thinking needs to be aligned with the correct way to identify and qualify prospects in selected niche markets.