September 2006

The Fall Festival of Spoon River Scenic Drive will be October 7-8 and 14-15, 2006, in Fulton County, IL. Besides all the foods, arts, crafts, antiques, and collectibles, there will be many types of demonstrations and entertainment in fifteen villages/areas. Activities will be in Astoria, Ipava, Duncan Mills, Lewistown, Bernadotte, Smithfield, Cuba, Fairview, Ellisville, Mt. Pisgah Park, Avon, London Mills, Farmington, Canton, and Waterford/ Dickson Mounds Museum. Visitors may follow the red oval logo signs. Below is an overview of eight of the communities participating. Next month learn about the other communities! 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 ac-

cess 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 millsite 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 of-

fice and mailwagon 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 is a Fulton County Park 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 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 including an antique store, Esther’s Place , which can be visited from the link here. 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. The Canton Museum is located downtown and

is open on weekends or by prior arrangement. 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. Several areas will have Civil War re-enactors, camps, and demonstrations of their weapons, maneuvers, uniforms, and cooking at London Mills, Mt Pisgah Park, and more. The Birge House (private residence) in Farmington was also of the 1860’s era and used as a “station” for the Underground Railroad. Reed Park downtown Farmington will have dancers, singers, musicians, and other free entertainment on stage.

Program books with maps & activities will be available at the information booth in your town. For advance planning send $4 for program & shipping to: Spoon River Scenic Drive Box 525, Canton IL 61520 Online information is at

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