This page gives a glimpse of the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive of Fulton County to our web visitors. It is a short virtual tour of the villages, towns and other sites that make up our showcase Scenic Drive Tour through and around Spoon River's Valley through Fulton County, Illinois.
London Mills is located at the north boundary of Fulton County where the Spoon River makes its entrance into the County. One can find old mill wheels on display in Riverside Park that brings to mind the days of long ago when milling was a major activity along the Spoon River. The restored Ross Hotel, pictured to the right, is one of the oldest structures in London Mills and is typical of the many rural hotels that operated throughout rural America in the early 1900s. A replica of the Statue of Liberty stands in Riverside Park's southeast corner as a tribute to the Boy Scouts of America which operates a camp nearby. There is also a public boat dock at London Mills which provides access to the Spoon's waters for fishing, canoeing and other recreational activities on Spoon River.
Farmington was originally known as the Merchant Settlement when it was first settled before it became incorporated as a city in 1857. A fort, built in 1831, was located atop the hill at the east edge of town where the water tower now stands. The Luther Birge home, pictured to the right, stands in Farmington; it served as a station on the Underground Railroad when Luther Birge aided blacks heading north in the mid-1800s. Reed Park, a major Fall Festival site, is a beautiful city park located located just north and east of the downtown business district.
Avon was first settled in 1835 and was known as Woodsville or Woodstock. It was platted as Avon in 1854. The Northern Cross Railroad, Fulton County's first railway, built through Avon in 1856. The Northern Cross was eventually merged with the C.B.&Q which is now part of the BNSF rail system. The railroad history of Avon is maintained at their Railroad Museum, the former Avon station building, located at AVCOM Park. The station is pictured to the right. Avon has many historical homes located throughout the community.
Levi Ellis erected the first mill on Spoon River at what is now Ellisville in 1829. The mill site was located at an area used by native Indians as a ford across the Spoon River. Ellisville was a center for underground coal mining in Fulton County. Ellisville still shows a nostalgic face in the picturesque business district with its old store fronts. The old post office and mail wagon is pictured to the right. Major renovations have been done to the Ellisville Opera House through the efforts of community volunteers organized to restore and preserve Ellisville's historical sites.
Mount Pisgah Park
Mount Pisgah Park is a privately owned property located on the site of an early Indian village on a high overlook of the Spoon River Valley near Ellisville. The view of the beautiful Spoon River Valley from Mount Pisgah is unsurpassed anywhere along Spoon River's winding course. The picture to the right shows a teepee erected at Mount Pisgah which is a regular attraction at the park during Fall Festival time.
Fairview is the site of the oldest Dutch Reform Church west of the Allegheny Mountains . The church, pictured to the right, was built in 1838 and still stands as a center of worship for people in the Fairview Community. Fairview has a unique Village Hall which is octagon-shaped and stands a short distance south of the business district with its picturesque store fronts. Fairview has many businesses that serve area residents and visitors.
Canton is known for its twenty eight churches and many beautiful city parks. Canton has many historic mansions and homes located throughout the city. Canton was once home for a large International Harvester plant which had originally been the Orendorff Plow Works. The Orendorff Mansion in Canton is listed on the National Historic Register. Canton is also the hometown of Astronaut Steve Nagel. Spoon River Community College is located three miles southwest of Canton on a 160 acre natural site. The college's Woodland Arboretum and theatre are outstanding visitor attractions.
Cuba was incorporated in 1853 and was the site of Fulton County's first public hospital. The hospital was staffed by three woman doctors. Cuba also served as a station on the underground railroad. Cuba was also one of several coal mining centers in Fulton County with shaft mining dating back to 1869. The first of the strip mines came to the area in the 1920s. Putnam Township Park, located just south of Cuba, lies on former strip mine land. Cuba has a beautiful park with bandstand in the center of the business district. The park is a site for Fall Festival activities in Cuba. The Cuba Christian Church was built in 1895 and still serves its congregation as a place of worship.
The Village of Smithfield boasts the Welch Art Studio and Museum. The studio and museum is located in the old telephone building which originally had been a bank. The Red Brick School, pictured to the right, is a community center maintained by volunteer efforts in the Smithfield community. The Red Brick School is also the location of the Bill Swango Art Studio. Bill Swango is widely recognized as an expert carver of wildlife carvings.
Bernadotte is named for the French Marshal who later became King of Sweden. The town was first settled in 1826 and was known as Fulton. Bernadotte was a milling site for grist and saw milling. The two noted landmarks at Bernadotte are the dam, the only dam on Spoon River, and the iron bridge which was constructed in 1915 replacing the old wood covered bridge which had served many years as a crossing over Spoon River. Bernadotte was taken in as part of the World War II Camp Ellis Army Camp. Camp construction permanently altered the surrounding terrain which originally included seven hills. The dam at Bernadotte, constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers during the Camp Ellis days, is pictured to the right.
Lewistown is the county seat of Fulton County. It was founded in 1821 by the Ross family. The Major Newton Walker home which once hosted Abraham Lincoln still stands on North Main Street. Lewistown was the home of Edgar Lee Masters through his younger years and the atmosphere of Lewistown undoubtedly had an inspirational effect upon Masters that led to the Spoon River Anthology being written by Masters. Lewistown has a rich history associated with railroading in Fulton County. Restoration has commenced and continues on both the old Fulton County Narrow Gauge Railroad Station and the Cedar Street Station which served Lewistown for many years. The restoration and continuing operation of the Rasmussen Blacksmith Shop Museum is a major attraction for tourists in Lewistown. The Blacksmith Shop is pictured to the right. Oak Hill Cemetery is also a major attraction in Lewistown and hosts the Spoon River Anthology readings during the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive Fall Festival.
Ipava was once known for its woolen mills. The stained glass windows of the Ipava Presbyterian Church, pictured to the right, are world famous. World War II brought Camp Ellis to the area lying west and northwest of Ipava. The log cabin in Ipava is a novel point of interest for tourists. The Ipava Christian Church is also a landmark site of the Ipava community.
Duncan Mills was a common entry point for the early settlement of Fulton County. Point Isabel on the Illinois River was located east a short distance from Duncan Mills. George Duncan built the original mill there in the 1830s and the village was eventually platted as Duncan Mills in 1867. Duncan Mills is the site of the Isabel Town Hall which is still in use. Isabel Town Hall is pictured to the right and is an official welcome and information center for visitors during the Spoon River Valley Scenic Drive's Fall Festival. The covered bridge replica and picnic shelter are features of the park at Duncan Mills.
Waterford, as a town, became non-existent many years ago. The Waterford area lies just west of the confluence of the Spoon River with the Illinois River. The Illinois River was frequently forded at that general location and, hence, the name of Waterford. The Town Hall still stands along with the Plank Road Ticket Office, pictured to the right, which was relocated to the Waterford area from Canton. The Dickson Mounds Museum of the Illinois Indian is located in the Waterford area and greets visitors the year around. The Waterford School, which has served as school, church and voting place, has been fully restored and furnished.
The Village of Astoria was named for John Jacob Astor, the fur trader and land speculator who amassed one of the largest fortunes in the country. Astor was the original owner of the tract upon which Astoria was platted in 1836. At one point in time, Astoria was an important way station on the old Peoria to Quincy stage coach route. Astoria's noted landmarks include the Village Bandstand in the park, Woodland Church and Cemetery, and the South Fulton Church which is on the National Register of Historic Places.