Pioneer City Heritage Trail
The Pioneer City Heritage Trail is a hiking, cycling, and/or auto
trail that is 8.6 km long (5.3 miles), rated "easy", and
is located in and around the city limits of Palestine Illinois. Most
the hiking is done on sidewalks and takes you past 21 points of interest
in the history of Palestine, Crawford County, and the State of Illinois.
Palestine is located in beautiful Southeastern Illinois just three
hours east of St. Louis, two hours from Indianapolis, one hour from
Haute IN, and one half hour from Vincennes IN. Palestine is on IL.
State Route 33 just four miles east of State Route 1 close to the Illinois/Indiana
The trail begins and ends
at the entrance of beautiful Leaverton Park which is on the Southeast
edge of Palestine (LaMotte to River Rd. south.)
The park has 342 camping sites, water & electric, band shell, tennis,
volley ball & basketball courts, horseshoe pits, ball fields,
playgrounds, shelters, and a shower house open from early spring through
late fall. Camping reservations necessary only on Labor Day weekend. (618)586-2147. For more information call (800) 445-7006.
Compass bearings, distances,
and GPS readings are available to group leaders who want to use the
trail to teach orienteering.
[ Waypoint & Town
Map | Coordinates | Badges ]
This trail was developed
as an Eagle Scout service project by Robert K. Quick and was opened
in the spring of 2000.
The Pioneer City Heritage Trail ~
Friendly Trail Guide & Maps (pdf)
Palestine is one of the oldest towns in the state of Illinois still
in its original location. Located four miles east of Rt. 1 on
Rt.33, Palestine has a rich historical background. Palestine is reputed
to be the oldest white settlement in Illinois. A French trading post
was located near the present site of Palestine in the 1680's.
In 1821, when the Federal Land Office opened in Palestine, Crawford
County encompassed the territory North to Wisconsin, and much of
the land where Chicago was built was purchased here for $1.25 per
acre. Fort LaMotte was built in 1812 to protect the early settlers
in Crawford County from Indian attack. In 1830 when the Lincoln family,
including 21 year old Abraham, moved to Illinois they stopped to
rest at an inn near Heathsville and camped at Palestine a day later.
On a newly revived Main
Street, quaint specialty shops, restaurants, the Fife Opera House,
and a revamped Darby Caboose await visitors.
Palestine is best known for its #1 Small Outdoor Rodeo held
every Labor Day Weekend at the spacious Leaverton Park.
1. In case of an emergency, call 911.
2. Watch for traffic at all times.
3. Vehicles must follow all traffic rules.
4. Hike in single file and keep the group together.
5. Hike on sidewalks where applicable.
6. Where there are no sidewalks, hike on the left side of the road
or street facing traffic.
7. Cross streets at intersections when possible,
8. Hike before dusk.
9. Follow any other rules or regulations your group may have.
1. Stay on public property. Do not trespass.
2. Respect others. Do not damage or destroy private or public property.
3. Pick up litter you may find along the trail and dispose of it properly.
4. Leave nothing, and take only memories.
5. Act in a manner so that others are not distracted by you.
6. Wear your group's uniform when possible.
1. Blue Star Memorial
(Outside front gate of Leaverton Park)
A tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States
Wabash River (Information Only)
(Approximately 1.5 Miles East of trailhead)
About 475 mi. (765 km) long, rising in Grand Lake, W Ohio, and flowing
NW into Indiana, then generally SW through Indiana, becoming the Indiana-Illinois
border before emptying into the Ohio River. It is the largest northern
tributary of the Ohio. The native Miami Indians called the river "Wah-Bah-Shik-ka" meaning "pure
white" for the color of its waters as they flowed across a bright
limestone bed in the upper reaches. The French called it "Ouabache."
In 1678, Frenchman Jean LaMotte, from the La-Salle exploring party,
traveled down the Wabash River and first gazed upon this region. In
1779, soldiers under Lt. Col. George Rogers Clark fought the only naval
battle on the Wabash River during the revolutionary war, a short distance
down river near Heathsville IL. In the early 1800's, settlers relied
chiefly on the Wabash River to reach the best markets for the disposal
of their surplus products. Flat boats loaded with grain, pork, hoop-poles,
staves, etc., would navigate the Wabash every season by scores then
down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans. Many steamboats
would come up the Wabash and load with grain and pork for the Cincinnati,
Louisville and New Orleans trade. In the early 1900's the mussel beds,
upriver near Hutsonville, were the discovery sites for many fine
and expensive pearls. Pearls from here have found their way into Tiffany's
showrooms and Queen Victoria's crown jewels. One became the favorite
jewel in the famous Dagmar necklace of Queen Alexandria.
"Oh the moonlight's
fair tonight along the Wabash.
From the fields there comes the breath of new mown hay.
Through the sycamores the candle lights are gleaming,
On the banks of the Wabash, far away,"
2. Fort LaMotte (marker) Update: Fort Lamotte has been reconstructed
east of this marker.
(E. LaMotte & Leaverton)
About 1812 the settlers in this area built Fort LaMotte for protection
from hostile Indians. The pioneers farmed the adjoining land but
stayed within easy reach of the protective walls. After the War of
Indian threat diminished and the inhabitants of the fort became the
nucleus of Palestine. Twenty-six families lived in the fort protected
by 90 rangers under the command of Ensign and later Lieutenant David
3. Lincoln Memorial Highway
(IL Rt. 33)
You are now traveling on part of the "Lincoln Memorial Heritage
Trail". Born on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky,
Abraham Lincoln's early life was one of the most modest means.
Life was hard for Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, and their children
Sarah, Abraham and Thomas. The youngest son, Thomas, would die
in 1812, and in 1817, after losing title to their land in Kentucky;
the Lincolns would head to Indiana for a fresh start. Within two years,
Abraham's mother Nancy would become ill and die. Abraham's father
would later remarry, and Abraham would soon establish a strong bond
with his stepmother, Sarah. The Lincoln family continued to be
on the move, and in 1830, when Abraham was 21 years old, the Lincoln
family emigrates to Illinois, crossing the Wabash River on March
6th near Vincennes Indiana. They stopped to rest at an inn south of
Palestine near Heathsville and camped at Palestine a day later. They
then stayed the night near the tavern at Bolivar, a now nonexistent
town north of Palestine and just south of Hutsonville. Their milk cow
died while they were there. On the 15th, they locate ten miles southwest
of Decatur on the north bank of the Sangamon River, in what is now
Lincoln Trail Homestead Park.
4. Rail Road
(Lincoln & Perry)
The first railroad through Crawford County was completed in August
1875 by the Paris and Danville Railroad company. This was an extension
of the Chicago, Danville and Vincennes Railroad and ran north and south
through Robinson. The east and west road, after many ups and downs
was built through Palestine as the Springfield, Effingham, and Southeastern
narrow gauge railroad. Trains were put on it in the summer of
1880. A bridge was built across the Wabash River in December and trains
began running through from Effingham to Swiss City.
The Illinois Central Railroad
(IC) is the only major rail carrier in the United States still operating
essentially under its own name without interruption since its founding.
In 1906 the Indianapolis
Southern Railroad, and Illinois Central subsidiary, completed
a line from Effingham, Illinois, to Indianapolis, Part of the line
was new construction and part was a rework of existing narrow
gauge lines such as those that ran through Palestine. In 1906
a minor train wreck on the IC line in Vaughn, Mississippi, achieved
worldwide fame when a song about the incident was written about the
engineer, the only person killed. The engineer was John Luther Jones,
nicknamed "Casey." The Palestine yard was a busy place back
then with a roundhouse for turning locomotives around, water tanks,
coal bins, maintenance buildings for doing repair work on the steam
locomotives. The railroad helped the farmers get their grain to market,
but was the undoing of the steamship on the Wabash.
5. Grain Elevators
(Pike & Perry)
The oldest continually operated business in the county is Reinbold & Sons.
Opened in Palestine in 1852 by the Miesenhelder family. Grain Elevators
house a number of storage bins where the farmers' grain is held prior
to shipment. The grain is dumped into a pit from which it is carried
up to the top of the elevator by means of the "leg," a continuous
belt with carrying cups. From the top, the grain is dumped into a bin.
To ship the grain, the bin is emptied into a hopper and back down into
the pit where it is then carried back up the "leg" to the
direct spout to the waiting rail cars.
6. Fort Foot (Marker)
(IL Rt. 33 Northwest edge of Palestine)
About 1813 the William Eaton family and other restless pioneers considered
Fort LaMotte too crowded and therefore constructed a new stockade on
a site several hundred yards north of here. A family trait of the Batons,
long narrow feet, led to the name of Fort Foot.
7. Palestine, Illinois (Marker)
(Il Rt. 33, Northwest edge of Palestine)
This area reminded Frenchman Jean LaMotte of the land of milk and honey,
Palestine. While a member of the LaSalle exploring party, he became
separated from the group, traveled down the Wabash River, and first
gazed upon the region in 1678. Other French settlers came during the
18th century. Then, by 1812, the westward moving Americans began constructing
Fort LaMotte. As the palisade filled with settlers, those desiring
more room moved a few miles to the northwest and established Fort Foot.
The settlers in Fort LaMotte were the core of the town of Palestine.
Platted in 1818 by Joseph Kitchell and Edward Cullom, the settlement
served until 1843 as the Crawford County seat. The growth of the town
lagged until a United States Land Office, opened in 1821, gave
new importance to the community. People came to buy land, to attend
court, for entertainment, and to have their grain milled. Others, like
Abraham Lincoln in 1830, passed through the bustling town on their
way to settle Illinois. The land office continued to give prominence
to Palestine. Robert A. Kinzie came in 1831 to purchase 102 acres for
$127.68, an acre which became the nucleus of Chicago. Augustus C. French
(1808-1864) served as a Receiver in the Land Office from 1839 to 1843.
A native of New Hampshire, he was the first 'Yankee' to be elected
Governor of Illinois. Chosen in 1846, French was forced to stand for
re-election under the new constitution of 1848 and won.
8. Kitchell Cemetery
Othniel Looker was a Revolutionary War soldier and the only governor
of the state of Ohio who fought in the American Revolution. He and
several members of the Kitchell family are buried here. The Kitchells
were very prominent in early Illinois State government as well
as holding public offices in Palestine.
9. ICRR Caboose
(Main & Harrison)
This 1950's caboose is a tribute to railroaders everywhere. While
on Main Street, visit some of the most unique specialty shops in the
10. Auntie Gogin's
(Main & East Grand Prairie)
On this block Mary Ann (Elwell) Gogin operated a general merchandise
store in the late nineteenth century. One of the first women in Illinois
to own and manage her own store, Mrs. Gogin was affectionately
known as 'Auntie' to the residents of Palestine.
11. Fife Opera House (Marker) (National Register of Historic Places)
(Main & Grand Prairie)
Construction of the Fife Opera House began in 1898, and was completed
in 1901. David Fife built the three-storied brick structure from oak
lumber grown on the Fife farm south of Palestine. The bricks for the
building came from Linton, Indiana, and Hutsonville Illinois. The metal
roof used for covering the 55 by 140 feet structure still remains.
Mr. Fife first completed the ground floor where he operated a hardware
business. The Opera House which was located on the second floor was
finished in March 1901. Inside the Opera House seating was available
for 700 people. The house measured 55 feet wide by 70 feet long. A
raked floor with a rise of 4 feet 3 inches from the first row to the
last row allowed audiences to enjoy the entertainment. The red leather
seats were arranged with a center section and two side sections. The
audiences were cooled by electric fans and kept warm in the winter
by a coal furnace. On opening night the lights in Palestine were dimmed
when the lights in the new David Fife Opera House were turned on. Two
light fixtures of the latest design hung from the ceiling, and single
lights spaced at two feet intervals adorned the edge of the ceiling.
The single lights around the ceiling remain today. The stage was located
on the west end of the house and was designed with a proscenium
arch opening. The opening measured 25 feet wide by approximately
15 feet high, and the front curtain rolled up and down. The arch was
outlined with twenty-five lights. On each side of the stage were two
large paintings depicting river scenes.
Such entertainment as local talent shows, stock theatrical companies,
band concerts, a lyceum series, special speakers, and commencements
drew crowds form Hutsonville, Robinson, Flat Rock, and Merom. Today,
the echoes of past performances remain from yesteryear.
12. Governor Augustus
C. French (Marker)
(South Pike & West Grand Prairie)
On this site stood the home of Augustus C. French (1808-1864) when
he was elected the ninth Governor of Illinois. The early settlers
in Illinois came mostly from southern states so that French, a native
of New Hampshire, was the first 'Yankee' to be elected Governor.
13. United States
Land Office (Marker)
(Main & Market. The Southwest corner of the old Palestine town
A United States Land Office was located at this site in 1820 and operated
until 1855. At that time Palestine was the County Seat for an area
that extended as far north as Canada. This made Palestine the most
important town in the state except for the capitol which, was
located in Vandalia from 1820-1837. Settlers from as far away as Chicago
came to Palestine to file on homesteads. A 21 year old Abraham
Lincoln, passing through Palestine in 1830 with his family in emigrant
wagons, noticed a crowd standing before this land office.
14. Oldest House?
Update: Harper House (National Register of Historic
(108 N Lincoln)
This house was acquired by the Palestine Preservation Projects
Society. It is an example of French architecture and could be the oldest
house in Palestine. This location is on the east side of what was the
original court house square and would have been a prime piece of real-estate
in the 1800's.
(East Grand Prairie & Lincoln)
Two early residents of Palestine, John Houston and Francis Dickson,
purchased this lot as the site for a combination dwelling and store
about 1818. By 1820 their stock of merchandise provided nearby settlers
with goods which they previously had to bring from Indiana.
16. Old Christian
(East Grand Prairie between Lincoln & Jackson)
Built in 1874 by the members of the First Christian Church of Palestine.
The steeple bell came from a steamboat which had sunk in the Wabash
River. The building was used as a church until Oct. 1916. It was also
used as the first indoor gym for Palestine Grade School during
1918-1919. The first indoor basketball game was played here that
year. The building was purchased by Fred Todd in 1920 and used as the
office for the Palestine Register until Dec. 31, 1964.
17. Cullom Homestead (Marker)
(208 S. Jackson St.)
Here stood the home of Edward N. Cullom who with Joseph Kitchell platted
the village of Palestine in 1818. They donated to the county land including
the public square for the county seat. Early court sessions were held
in the Cullom house.
18. Du Bois Tavern (Marker)
(309 S. Lincoln)
Here stood the Dubois Tavern. Jesse K. Dubois, a close friend of Abraham
Lincoln, was an official in the United States Land Office in Palestine
from 1841-1842 and from 1849-1853 and later became Auditor of Public
Accounts for Illinois. His son, Fred T. Dubois, became a Senator from
19. Kitchell Grist
(IL Rt. 33, South Jackson & Vincennes Ave.)
In this area Joseph Kitchell, who settled here in 1817, erected a grist
mill and distillery which eliminated the trip to Shakertown, Indiana
where the farmers had previously taken their grain. Horses were used
for power; grain was taken in pay, converted to whiskey and sold to
20. Colonel Clark Lagow Gravesite
(S Leaverton, Palestine Cemetery, 2nd row west of flag pole, 6th grave
from North end)
Clark Breading Lagow was born November 7, 1828 at Palestine Illinois,
He is best known for his position on the staff of Major General Ulysses
S. Grant. Clark Lagow was a merchant in Palestine until the time of
the Civil War when he joined Company 1, 21st Regiment of the Illinois
Volunteer Infantry. In 1861 Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant
appointed him as his aide and in 1862 Lagow was made a Colonel.
Colonel Lagow retired in
December 1863 and was appointed Brigadier General by Brevet for gallant
and meritorious service during the war.
Col. Lagow was instrumental in Grant's plans for the capture
of Vicksburg. He was with Grant at the Battle of Shiloh, and gave Grant
a horse, named "Kangaroo" which was used by Grant during
the Vicksburg Campaign.
21. Pioneer City
Rodeo Arena (Update: Fort LaMotte Reconstruction Site)
(North Side of Leaverton Park)
The Pioneer City Rodeo and Festival take place Labor Day Weekend in
Palestine, Illinois. The Labor Day festival began around 1950
as a railroader's picnic. In 1967 the first professional rodeo
was held in a makeshift arena on the men's baseball diamond. Since
that time the event has grown to become one of the finest rodeos east
of the Mississippi River. During Labor Day Weekend the Village
of Palestine will host well over 20,000 visitors as they enjoy the
street lair, Chuck Wagon Breakfast, carnival, parade, free entertainment,
clown lunch, and performances of the award winning PIONEER CITY RODEO.
The Pioneer City Heritage Trail was developed by Robert Quick as
his Eagle Scout Project. The Village of Palestine is very grateful
for his gift to the community and the many explorers who follow the
For More Information:
Palestine Chamber of Commerce
220 S Main
Palestine, IL 62451
Phone: (618) 586-2222
Palestine Preservation Projects Society (PPPS)
Phone: (618) 586-9418
The Crawford County Historical Society and Museum
P O. Box 554
Robinson, IL 62454-0554.
Phone: (618) 544-3087
The museum is open most Sunday afternoons from 2 to 4.
Crawford County Tourism Council
Palestine Chamber of Commerce
Palestine Preservation Projects Society
The Crawford County Historical Society
“ History of Crawford and Clark Counties, Illinois”
Edited by William Henry Perrin
“ Historic Palestine 1811-1995”
Edited by Carol Sue Maddox, Palestine Preservation Projects Society
“ Crawford County Illinois Still Making History”
Crawford County Tourism Council
Illinois State Historical Society markers
Dana Corp Victor-Reinz Div.
Bill & Dorothy Fasig
First Robinson Savings Bank
Goodwine Funeral Homes
Magill Home Furnishings
JD Mullen Food Products
Palestine Eagles Lodge
Palestine Insurance Agency
Pulliam Funeral Homes
Quality Housing LLC
Larry, Phuong, & Maxine Quick
Roy & Ann Shaner
TempCo Products Co.
patches and medals may be purchased online, after completing the
trail either by foot, cycle, or automobile. For those hiking the
trail more than once, repeat pins may be purchased to affix upon
the patch or ribbon of the medal.
Order securely online using PayPal or
mail your order to:
Pioneer City Heritage Trail
Palestine Chamber of Commerce
220 S Main
Palestine, IL 62451