National Register Listing in
Pope County, Illinois

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The Chicago River was once so polluted that it caught on fire several times in the mid-20th century. The river was so polluted with chemicals and sewage that it was almost devoid of life. Today, the river has been cleaned up and is a popular spot for recreational activities like kayaking and boat tours.
Pope County, located in southern Illinois, has a rich and diverse history that dates back to prehistoric times. Native American tribes, including the Shawnee and Chickasaw, were known to inhabit the area long before European settlers arrived. In the early 1800s, pioneers began to establish settlements along the Ohio River, which runs along the county's southern border.

In 1816, Pope County was officially established and named after Nathaniel Pope, the Secretary of the Illinois Territory. The county quickly grew, attracting settlers with its fertile land and abundant natural resources. Agriculture became a prominent industry, and crops such as tobacco, corn, and wheat were cultivated. The county also saw the rise of industry with the development of sawmills and gristmills along the numerous streams and rivers.

During the Civil War, Pope County played a significant role as a strategic location along the Ohio River. The county was a border region, with residents divided in their loyalties between the Union and the Confederacy. This led to a number of skirmishes and raids by both sides throughout the war. After the conflict, Pope County experienced a period of post-war reconstruction and economic growth.

Today, Pope County remains primarily rural, with its economy centered around agriculture and tourism. The Shawnee National Forest, which covers a portion of the county, attracts outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing. The county also celebrates its history with annual events and festivals that highlight its cultural heritage.

This timeline provides a concise overview of the key events in the history of Pope County, Illinois.

  • 1799 - Pope County established as part of the Northwest Territory
  • 1816 - Illinois becomes a state, and Pope County is included within its boundaries
  • 1821 - Golconda becomes the county seat of Pope County
  • 1830 - Population of Pope County reaches 2,122
  • 1839 - Construction of the historic Eddyville Blacksmith Shop
  • 1860 - Pope County's population peaks at 6,870
  • 1881 - Completion of the Golconda and Shawneetown Railroad, boosting the county's economy
  • 1925 - The mighty Ohio River floods Pope County, causing significant damage
  • 1960 - Pope County's population declines to 3,955
  • 2010 - Pope County's population decreases to 4,470