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Great River Road in Illinois National Scenic Byway
Explore the heart of America! Follow the Mississippi River as it winds its way along Illinois' western border from Galena to Cairo. Experience over 550 miles of small towns, big cities, historic sites, recreational areas, cultural attractions and museums. Follow the green and white paddle wheel signs as they guide your next adventure!
Museum of the Matteson Historical Society
History and artifacts of the Matteson area; obituaries, maps, oral histories, library of antique books and newspaper clippings can be found at this informative resource.
James B. and Rosalyn L. Pick Museum of Anthropology at Northern Illinois University
The Anthropology Museum at Northern Illinois University was founded in 1964 and is operated as part of the Department of Anthropology. The museum houses over 20,000 objects comprised mostly of ethnographic material with some archaeological material. The museum specializes in cultures of Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and the Southwest and Plains Native Americans. In addition, the museum holds smaller collections from Africa, modern Greece, Mesoamerica, and South America. The museum is particularly proud of the Native American basket collection, featuring over 200 specimens, as well as the Indonesian textile collection, which contains over 600 pieces. In addition, the museum also houses about 100 different Indonesian shadow puppets, a fine collection of Thai khon masks, and important collections of Hmong and Karen artifacts. The museum has a growing collection of modern Mesoamerican artifacts reflecting the cultural and artistic changes taking place in modern Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Museum is open during the NIU Academic Year.
The History Museum
Quincy's original public library, now home to Quincy area artifacts, a stained glass gallery, gift shop and Mormon City of Refuge display. Open Tues-Fri. 10-4pm, Sat 10-5pm.
Cruisin' With Lincoln on 66
The main source for information about McLean County’s historic and modern attractions in the Bloomington-Normal area is the "Cruisin’ with Lincoln on 66" Visitors Center. Located in Downtown Bloomington, the Visitors Center provides information on all of the wonderful attractions, events, dining and lodging available in McLean County. Their exhibits highlight two types of heritage tourism that is integral to Central Illinois: Historic Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln. The gift shop is filled with local products, memorabilia and more!
Villa Park Historical Museum
Built in 1929, the Villa Park Historical Museum building originally served the community as the Villa Ave stop for the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin electric train line and an appliance store. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. Today, it houses relics and artifacts from Villa Park's past including articles from the Ovaltine Factory which once operated in Villa Park and Sears Catalog Homes in the area.
History Comes Alive
Many sites and attractions in historic Springfield will be brimming with free live performances and fun activities that will transport you and your family back in time – to the Springfield Abraham Lincoln knew and loved. From storytelling and interaction with costumed interpreters to visits with Mr. Lincoln, himself, this is a trip to the past you won't want to miss! History Comes Alive will run through August 13th.
Bishop Hill Steeple Building
Take a look back in history and visit the Steeple building, built in 1854. Architecturally intriguing it is a three-story stucco Greek Revival structure with a two-story tower and 66 six-over-six windows. It was built to be used as a hotel, but instead was used as a dwelling, school, administration building, and later housed a bank, telephone switchboard and apartments. The museum is home to the Bishop Hill Heritage Association offices. The rooms and exhibit showcase historic artifacts and photos of early Colony days and take visitors back through time to a quaint prairie village. Group tours by appointment, small fee. Open Daily 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday Noon to 4 p.m.
LaSalle County Historical Society Heritage Center
The LaSalle County Historical Society’s museum lies on the north side of the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal, itself a historical landmark. The museum building, erected in 1848 during the presidency of Zachary Taylor, is a beautifully restored sandstone building that was originally a granary and warehouse. The two-story building has walls of sandstone blocks between 18 and 32 inches thick, quarried in Utica, and secured with hydraulic cement of the same kind used in the construction of the I&M Canal. James Clark, the man who commissioned the building, came to Utica in 1833, where he became a land squatter. In 1842 he became a contractor on the I&M Canal and in 1845 he bought the local cement mill. He made it a huge commercial success by selling the cement to the canal contractors and the general public. The cement was used in many parts of the canal.
Shabbona-Lee-Rollo Historical Museum
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday: 9:00am-11:30am & 12:30pm-3:00pm; Saturday: 9:00am-11:00am This museum holds a large collection of historical information pertaining to the surrounding communities. Admission is free.
Frankfort Area Historical Museum
Only 10 miles south of Rend Lake, the former two story brick Logan School is now a museum featuring area mining history, memorabilia from 1802-1976, a genealogy library, and the Red Geranium Tea Room that serves homemade lunch.
Elk Grove Historical Museum
The Elk Grove Historical Museum provides a look at pioneer living from the mid 19th to early 20th century. The Museum specializes in the history of the Elk Grove and its development over time. Open year round, the Museum offers tours, educational programs, exhibits, and assistance with research on Elk Grove Village and the surrounding area.
CITY:Elk Grove Village
Metamora Court House Museum
The Metamora Courthouse was built in 1845 and served as the center of county government until the county seat was moved to Eureka in 1896. It is one of two surviving courthouses on the historic Eighth Judicial Circuit traveled by Abraham Lincoln. In 1978 the Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The first floor of the two-story brick structure contains a central hall flanked by two exhibit rooms, one displaying artifacts of early local history, the other with exhibits describing the 1850s court system and Lincoln's life on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. On the second floor, the former courtroom and two small chambers are furnished to represent the era during which Lincoln practiced law.
Sycamore History Museum
The Sycamore History Museum strives to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit significant materials relating to Sycamore and the surrounding area, to provide related educational services for the public knowledge of Sycamore.
Veterans Military Museum Depot
The Veterans Museum Depot is a restored C&I railroad depot that is filled with memorabilia from the Civil War to Desert Storm. It has uniforms of all branches of service, a purple heart, horse saddles from World War I, insignia's & patches, gas masks, a World War II communication system and many other items on display. Many young boys of the Rend Lake area left from this very depot to go to war. On the West Frankfort Main Street just 10 miles south of Rend Lake.
Southwestern Farm & Home Museum
This living memorial offers an insight into rural and farming life, with exhibits that include antique farm implements and a number of household items.
Kewanee Historical Society
Founded in 1976, the group maintains the Kewanee Historical Society's Robert and Marcella Richards Museum, featuring numerous exhibits highlighting the colorful history of Kewanee. Open, May 1st to October 1st Thursday & Saturday, 1:30PM-4:00PM Open Everyday Labor Day Weekend
Lisle Station Park
An 1874 CB&Q Railroad Depot, an 1881 wooden caboose, a circa 1850s farmhouse and 1830s tavern/inn. Exhibits, historic gardens, and various programs offered. Meetings for 40-50.
Pioneer Sholes School
Restored, One-room schoolhouse serves as living museum. Open June to early September. Groups welcome by appointment. They actually sit at desks in the one room schoolhouse while a docent explains how teaching was done in 1872. They also participate in playing the games the students played during their recess periods.
Museum of the Matteson Hisotrical Society
History and artifacts of the Matteson area; obituaries, maps, oral histories, library of antique books and newspaper clippings.
This traditional one-story French Creole residence, built circa 1790, is considered to be one of the oldest surviving residences in Illinois.
Teutopolis Monastery Museum
See displays of early life in this German Catholic community, founded in 1838. The first Franciscans arrived in October 1858, and the three priests and six brothers quickly set about building a parish and friary.
Western Illinois Museum
See a regional collection of artifacts, historical documents and memorabilia representing Western Illinois history.
Old School Museum
The now renovated Old School Museum offers visitors a view of the history of Scott County and Winchester. This museum preserves and displays artifacts related to local history, agriculture, transportation, communication and public education. Also included is a collection of interesting/unique artifacts from the businesses and society of early Scott County. The Romanesque style building was Winchester’s public elementary school from 1901 through 1958.
Calumet City Historical Society
Come discover Calumet City's fascinating heritage and history.
Kibbe Hancock Heritage Museum
This impressive collection includes Civil War and Indian artifacts, fashion items circ 1840-1920, fossils, rocks, geodes and other historic Hancock County aritfacts. New to the museum are the Funeral Customs display and the "Lincoln: Making of the Man" display. The majority of the collection was generously donate by Dr. Alice Kibbe.
William L. Gregg House Museum
DuPage County, Chicago’s Western Suburbs - Victorian, red-bricked house displays collections typical of the 1920s through 1940s in authentic lifestyle settings. Open Wednesdays and Sundays.
Lombard Historical Society Museum
This Victorian home features rooms furnished with artifacts exemplifying the lifestyle of the emerging middle-class during the 1870s. Group tours welcome seven days a week with reservations, based on availability. Admission free.
Big Rock Historical Society Crib Museum
Step into the restored corn crib and explore artifacts from the century-old Plowing Match or learn more about Welsh immigrants. Open by appointment.
Illinois Veterans' Home All Wars Museum and Deer Park
Dedicated in 1886, the Illinois Veterans' Home is one of our nation's largest and oldest veterans home. It has often been labeled "the city witin the city" because of its size and unique set up. It is equipped with its own post office, bank, chapel, cemetery, television station and utility system. Also on the grounds is the All Wars Museum, which has 10,000 artifacts and exhibits spanning from the American Revolution to the War on Terrorism.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity & Foundation
This 80-year-old Indiana limestone building was constructed as a memorial to the members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon who fought and died in our nation's wars, and contains some of the last stained-glass works of Louis C. Tiffany.
Historic Montgomery County Courthouse
This historic courthouse was built circa 1858.
Morton Grove Historical Museum Haupt-Yehl House
Located in Harrer Park, this 1888 Victorian farmhouse features period furnishings and a museum on its lower level with rotating displays.
Vintage Wings and Wheels Museum
Located at the Poplar Grove Airport, this musuem has a variety of vintage autos, trucks and other equipment including aircraft.
O'Nell Agriculture Museum
This museum features exhibits of local history and antique farm tools.
Savanna Museum and Cultural Center
This 3 story historic building contains artifacts telling the story of this Mississippi River community. Noteworthy displays include over 80 mannequins dressed in authentic Civil War uniforms, native son & famous big-band musician Wayne King memorabilia, railroad artifacts and running model RR layout Savanna Ordnance Depot artifacts and much more.
New River Model Railroad Museum
See model trains in operation, an HO-scale model of the Chesapeake & Ohio RR circa 1950s West Virginia, and running diesel and steam locomotives on a double main line.
Sterling-Rock Falls Historical Society Museum
This local museum explores the history of Sterling and Rock Falls.
Stone Coal Log Cabin Village
Original log buildings in this educational village are from Illinois' early prairie years.
Bethalto History Museum
A log cabin originally built in 1873 is this city's history museum. The cabin is authentically furnished as it might have appeared 150 years ago. The building once housed Bethalto's water, fire and police departments. The tiny one room jail can still be seen. Open Wednesday 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. for tours. Call for tour appointment.
Chillicothe Historical Society
Don't know much about history? Come see what Chillicothe Historical Society and its museums have to offer! Whether your roots are local or you simply enjoy the lifelong learning experience of discovering our common heritage, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you step in!
Pullman Visitor Center
Stop here for exhibits and tours of the historic town of Pullman, built in 1880 by railcar magnate George M. Pullman. Several buildings remain on this landmark site.
Lake County Discovery Museum
Hands-on interactive exhibits introduce the history of Lake County in a fun learning environment. The Museum also displays the nation's largest permanent exhibition on the history and significance of postcards. Changing exhibits throughout the year.
Highland Park Historical Society
This museum is a 12 room, two story Italianate Victorian house donated to the Society in 1969. The Society’s mission is to discover, preserve, provide access to and disseminate the history of the general area and of Highland Park, in particular.
Elgin Area Historical Society & Museum
Experience the history of Elgin, from the Elgin Watch Factory to the first settlers. Everyone will walk out with a better understanding off Elgin's history.
Evanston History Center
Housed in the gracious historic mansion of former U.S. Vice President Charles Gates Dawes, this stunning chateau overlooks Lake Michigan. Visitors and history buffs explore this National Historic Landmark appreciating its original furnishings and artwork. The home features exhibits focusing on the history of Evanston.
McCoy House Memorial Library
This majestic four-story Victorian home, built in 1884 by banker A.G. Cloud, sits next to the old bank of similar architectural style. The house is now a memorial library and museum decorated with beautiful furnishings and paintings.
William Jennings Bryan Museum
This 160-year old home has three rooms of original furniture, pictures and personal items once owned by politician William Jennings Bryan.
Tampico Area Historical Museum
This museum that focuses on the Tampico area features exhibits related to schools, agriculture, prominent families and businesses. Items on display include newspapers, funeral records and memorabilia.
Wilmette Historical Museum
Learn about the history of Wilmette, the North Shore area and Gross Point. Housed in the former Gross Point Village Hall, the museum also offers a research library.
Shiloh Prairie Restoration
View 40 acres of restored prairie grass and a Native American grass lodge.
Visit the museum's beautiful grounds and see a collection of over 10,000 items that include sea shells, primitive furniture and antique glassware.
Peoria Historical Society
Our mission is to preserve and celebrate Peoria's story. We own two historic house museums and provide certified guides for the History Trolley and other tours. The focus has changed and evolved through the years, but our commitment to preservation remains strong. programs are offered for both local residents and out-of-town visitors. We seek to entertain the eye and stimulate the mind as well as support historical scholarship and collaborate with other preservation organizations. We look to the future with a vision to be the resource and advocate for historical preservation and research on the Peoria area, its organizations and its people. As a collaborative partner of the Peoria Riverfront Museum, we are pleased to have the opportunity to display some of the Society's artifacts and present the history of the Peoria area in the museum.
Kane County Events and Cultural Center
This 50-acre forest preserve houses the Philip B. Elfstrom Stadium (home of the Kane County Cougars minor league baseball team), the Roberta Campbell Cultural & Conference Center (used for art exhibits and community activities) and a picnic/park area.
This beautiful, historic 1865 mansion was once owned by the Halliday Family, and is now owned by the City of Cairo and open for tours.
Logan County Courthouse
This 1905 Neo-Classical building features a stained glass dome, the longest-serving courtroom in Illinois, a mosaic of the state seal, a statue of Abraham Lincoln and murals of Logan County.
Rike House Museum
Built in 1853, the restored house of blacksmith Robert Ingle has undergone extensive restoration, and features antiques, a family bible and the town's first piano. Reservations required.
Village of Elsah Museum
Discover what life was like in historic Elsah when it was founded in 1853 by James Semple. The museum, housed in the Elsah Village Hall built in 1887, showcases former residents, architectural styles used in constructing buildings, and implements used by residents in the mid-1800s. The museum is open Saturday and Sundays only from 1 - 4 p.m.
Lena Area Historical Museum
The Lena Historical Museum tells the history of Lena and the surrounding area, with galleries focusing on various historical topics. Highlights include a Civil War regimental flag and an extensive clothing collection. Also on the grounds are a summer kitchen, the first log schoolhouse built in Lena, an Illinois Central Railroad caboose, a general store, a recreated chapel, and a barn filled with antique vehicles and farm tools. Open: Saturday: 1 pm - 4 pm; or by appointment.
Momence Railroad Depot
This privately-owned, 1890'a depot was restored in 2001 and contains photos and artifacts relating to Momence's railroading history.
Macoupin County Courthouse
The Macoupin County Courthouse, built in 1870, used to be the largest county courthouse in the United States, with the possible exception of one in New York City. It was even larger than the Illinois Statehouse. While the courthouse still serves as the seat of county government, it has also become a showplace that attracts tourists, architects and artists from across the country, as well as overseas.
Veterans Memorial Hall
Dedicated in 1903 in ceremonies that included a speech by Teddy Roosevelt, Memorial Hall is a tribute to Rockford citizens who have served in the Armed Forces. Large wall plaques list names of fallen veterans, and cases in the main lobby, side rooms and the lower level display Armed Services artifacts including memories of the Civil War, the World Wars and Camp Grant. The renovated second floor auditorium is used by cultural groups for shows and presentations and is accessible via the elevator.
Randolph County Museum & Archives
Built in 1864, the museum is a repository for French-Colonial-era records and special exhibits. Next door, the Randolph County Courthouse offers a panoramic view of the Mississippi River Valley from a 5th-floor, glassed-in observation deck, a mini-museum in the Jail lobby, and a flag display in the courtyard.
Itasca Historical Depot Museum
The Itasca Historical Museum was the original Itasca Train Depot built in 1873. A 1939 Milwaukee Road Rib-side Caboose numbered 01839 was acquired and restored to its original bright orange appearance with all new doors, windows and wood interior. Kids love the interactive train display in the Depot which looks like Itasca in the late 1800’s with bells and whistles. Open Tuesdays & Thursdays from 11am-4pm and the 1st and 2nd Saturdays each month from 9am-2pm.
Swedish American Museum
Located in Andersonville, a Swedish enclave in Chicago, this is a cultural and learning center with artifacts, photographs and exhibits tracing Swedish American history.
Little Toot Railroad
Ride the rails and experience train travel as it was decades ago on a 15-inch-gauge Crown steam locomotive that runs through Charley Brown Park.
Begins the Trail Reagan Statue
A bronze statue of Ronald Reagan, astride the likeness of a palomino horse he rode nearly 60 years ago, sits at the head of the Heritage Crossing Riverfront Plaza located on River Street in downtown Dixon. The statue, created by local artist Don Reed, serves as the centerpiece of Heritage Crossing, an open-air plaza that looks out onto the Rock River.
Governor Coles Memorial
This memorial in Valley View Cemetery honors Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois (1822-1826). A former slaveowner from Virginia, Coles became an abolitionist and won the 1822 gubernatorial election as the candidate of anti-slavery forces.
Historic Woodstock Square
A Victorian town square, complete with bandstand and gazebo, is the setting for many unique shops, eateries, antiques stores and art galleries. The square is home to many events, and was the film site for the hit movie Groundhog Day.
Franklin Creek Preservation Area
Franklin Creek Grist Mill, 1893 Twist Road off Old Mill Road, Franklin Grove. Covered wagon tours. Interpretive Center.
Sheldon Peck Homestead
This 1840s farmhouse features reproductions of Sheldon Peck's folk paintings, exhibits on the area's first school, the underground railroad, farming and pioneer life.
Stephen Mack Home & Whitman Trading Post
Built in 1834 by fur trader Stephen Mack, one of the area's first settlers. Located at Macktown Forest Preserve, site of archeological dig, and golf course.
McDonough County Courthouse
This historical courthouse, built in 1872 for $155,000 and still in use today, features its original stone, brick and walnut detail.
Indian Treaty Site
A marker commemorates the point where two important trails intersected on the prairie: Detroit to St. Louis and Peoria to Terre Haute. In 1765, the British and the Illinois Indians signed a peace treaty here.
William Tanner House
Built in 1856, this Italianate building is home of the Aurora Historical Society and where you’ll find historic photos, books, documents and maps covering Aurora’s history from the 1830s to now. Tours of fully furnished home & exhibits offered. Call for hours.
Exhibits focused on Abraham Lincoln, Route 66, and other aspects of Atlanta’s history are featured. The Museum’s Local History Resource Center provides extensive genealogy materials accessible to the public. Housed in a beautifully restored 1867 building, the Atlanta Museum presents both permanent and new, rotating exhibits. Open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Jane Addams Hull House Museum
Visit two restored original buildings from Chicago's first settlement house. Exhibits and educational programs depict the life and work of courageous social worker and Illinois native Jane Addams.
Allis Chalmers Tractor Musuem
Come visit this private collection of Allis Chalmers tractor models made from 1914-1957. Open for free by appointment or chance.
Grayslake Heritage Center
A state of the art history museum dedicated to collecting and sharing the history of the greater Grayslake area. The Grayslake Heritage Center offers programs, exhibitions and special events all year round and includes two galleries, a community room and classroom.
Kibbe Hancock Museum
The majority of this large collection of historic artifacts was donated by Dr. Alice Kibbe. The collection now includes Civil War and Indian artifacts, fashion items dating from 1840 to 1920, fossils, rocks, and geodes, and other historic artifacts from around Hancock County.
Hot Metal Heaven Museum
This museum features a collection of letterpress printing memorabilia.
World Aero Space Museum
The World Aero Space Museum displays aircraft from the Cold War era, and is the only museum in the world preserving these types of aircraft in one location. Most of the aircraft displayed are in working, flying condition.
Winnetka Historical Museum
The growth and history of Winnetka since 1830 is chronicled in this museum, which includes the Carlton Washburne Library.
Carlinville Historic District
The Historic District includes the Macoupin County Jail, Million Dollar Courthouse, and the largest collection of Sears & Roebuck mail-order homes in the U.S.
Mount Pulaski Township Historical Museum & Research Center
This museum contains numerous artifacts and memorabilia from the Mt. Pulaski area, as well as Abraham Lincoln items and information.
Bliss House Museum
The Bliss House Museum is operated by the Sugar Grove Historical Society and houses historical exhibits about the village of Sugar Grove and surrounding area. Anyone interested in researching their heritage, may contact the museum for access to probate and civil records dating 1839 - 1955. Hours: Open every Tuesday 1-4 pm or by appointment.
Macoupin County Jail
The historic 1869 Macoupin County Jail was designed by E.E. Meyers. It was built using the "cannon ball" method which prevented jail breaks by making it nearly impossible to remove the blocks. This unique medieval-inspired fortress housed many lawbreakers during its 119 years of use, but only one prisoner escaped. He was soon apprehended a few blocks from the jail.
Woodlawn Cemetery and Civil War Soldiers Plot
The first burial at Woodlawn Cemetery was that of a Union Soldier in 1861. The plot is the resting place for over 80 Civil War Soldiers. An interpretive sign provides history of the plot and a listing of the soldiers buried there. Also located here are Civil War era cannons. Several others buried outside of the Civil War Soldiers plot were contemporaries of Abraham Lincoln.
Edgar County Historical Society
Compare pioneer and Victorian lifestyles when you visit the log cabin and brick Italianate home. An exhibition gallery in an adjacent building features rotating exhibits of the historical society's collection.
International Latino Cultural Center
Most recognized for the production of the Chicago Latino Film Festival, ILCC has screened more than 900 films and videos, including many award-winners that otherwise would have never been shown in Chicago.
Will County Historical Society/I&M Canal Museum
The Historical Society operates this museum, located in the original 1830s canal commissioner's home and office. The museum exhibits explore the fascinating history of the I&M Canal.
Charleston Historic District
Downtown Charleston includes a historic courthouse and many historic homes listed on both the Coles County Register for Significant Places and the National Register of Historic Places.
Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society
In 1977, the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society was formed to bring together area people who had an interest in local and regional history and its preservation.
Christian County Genealogical Society
The Genealogical Society is a research resource where you can find history on your family background, microfilm and microfiche, and books. The Society will also research your family for a donation.
Jane Addams Burial Site
Jane Addams, born and raised in Cedarville, was an internationally famous humanitarian and social work pioneer who founded Chicago's Hull House and won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is buried in this lovely old hillside cemetery.
DuPage County Historical Museum
Enjoy DuPage County's rich history from the 1830s to the present. The Museum exhibits feature hundreds of historic artifacts and photos along with many fun hands-on activities. You'll find something for toddlers to seniors, and everyone in between. Housed in an 1891 Richardsonian Romanesque building, the museum highlights 150 years of DuPage County history with participatory activities, changing exhibits and extensive model railroad display.