National Register Listing in
Wabash County, Illinois

The famous Route 66, one of the first highways in the U.S., passed through Illinois. The highway, which stretched from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, was a popular route for tourists and truckers and played an important role in American culture and history.

Wabash County, located in southern Illinois, has an intriguing history that dates back to prehistoric times. The county was initially inhabited by indigenous tribes, including the Shawnee and Potawatomi, whose presence can be traced back thousands of years. European settlers first arrived in the late 18th century, and the county itself was officially established on January 2, 1824.

During the 19th century, Wabash County underwent significant economic developments. The discovery of coal within the county's boundaries in the 1850s led to a boom in mining activities, attracting immigrants from various European countries. The coal industry fueled the county's economy for decades, reaching its peak during the early 20th century. Alongside coal mining, agriculture also played a vital role in the county's economic growth, with fertile lands being used for the cultivation of crops like corn and soybeans.

As with many parts of the United States, Wabash County was not untouched by the impact of the Civil War. Although the county remained mostly pro-Union, it did face some internal divisions. A notable event during this period was the Battle of Mount Carmel, when Confederate guerrillas attacked the town of Mount Carmel in 1864. However, the Union forces successfully defended the area, preventing substantial damage.

In modern times, Wabash County has seen changes in its economic landscape. While coal mining has declined, the county has diversified its industries, including the manufacturing sector. In recent years, efforts have been made to promote tourism and preserve the county's historical heritage, such as the relocation and restoration of several historic buildings. Today, Wabash County stands as a testament to its rich history, blending its past with the realities of the present.

  • 1824 - Wabash County is officially established on December 27, named after the Wabash River.
  • 1832 - The first permanent settlement is established in the county.
  • 1840 - The county seat is established in Mount Carmel.
  • 1854 - The first railroad reaches the county, opening up new transportation opportunities.
  • 1861-1865 - Wabash County residents actively participate in the Civil War, with many enlisting in the Union Army.
  • 1871 - The Water Works Park is established in Mount Carmel, providing recreational opportunities.
  • 1909 - The first oil well is drilled in the county, marking the beginning of the oil and gas industry in the region.
  • 1925 - The first hospital is built in Mount Carmel, improving healthcare accessibility.
  • 1954 - The county celebrates its 130th anniversary with various events and activities.
  • 1980 - The Wabash County Museum is opened, showcasing the history and culture of the area.
  • 2009 - The county experiences the Great Recession, impacting its economy.
  • 2019 - Wabash County celebrates its 195th anniversary with community festivities.