From Mt. Vernon, travel southwest to the Main Street town of DuQuoin. Visit the historic 1908 Orphanage, otherwise known as the Children’s Home and Aid Society. The orphanage is now a beautiful bed & breakfast.
Built in the 1850’s, the Ibendahl Farmstead is certainly worth a visit. This 12-room house contains Locust Hill Academy, Illinois’ first grade school system. Take a tour of this educational site and feel free to ask the Ibendahls history questions!
From DuQuoin, continue your Illinois Main Street “A Piece of History” tour east to the delightful town of Benton. This southern Illinois community offers classic museums (see Museum Tour) and a very quaint downtown atmosphere.
Leaving Benton, head south to West Frankfort. Make a stop at the Ken Gray Presidential Hall of Fame.
Continuing your tour, travel southwest to the Main Street town of Carbondale. This community is filled with history and tradition. You can visit the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery and America’s 1 st Memorial Day Service. Also popular are the 1903 Train Depot and Veteran’s Memorial Plaza. Take time to stop by Carbondale Main Street office and request a CD format of the history of the town.
From Carbondale, head southeast to Pope County and continue your Southern Illinois historic Main Street tour in Golconda. Historic downtown Golconda is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Presbyterian Church is the oldest operating church in the state. This community is full of history and gives visitors a true taste of Southern Illinois.
A short drive northeast from Golconda is the Main Street community of Hardin County. Three historic towns characterize Hardin County. They are Cave-in-Rock, Elizabethtown and Rosiclare. Make sure to visit Elizabethtown’s Rose Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in Illinois. It overlooks the beautiful Ohio River and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Just south of Elizabethtown is the community of Rosiclare. It was during World War II that the US Government built a housing project called Sparedale that provided residences for over 150 families in Rosiclare. During this time fluorspar, lead and zinc were a big part of the local economy. After the war ended, however, the constructed housing project was sold and torn down. Sparedale will always be a part of local Rosiclare history.
Your last destination in historic Hardin County should be Cave-in-Rock. Similar to Rosiclare, Cave-in-Rock’s early industry base included fluorspar mining and farming. The community offers the last operating ferry on the Ohio River between Kentucky and Illinois. The ferry is free. You’ll enjoy all the historical ambiance Cave-in-Rock offers.