Monday, November 8, 2010

Ohio River Scenic Byway stop 7: Alexander County

One of the most historic towns Illinois has to offer is located in Alexander County. Cairo is the last stop on the Illinois leg of the Ohio Scenic River Byway..

Alexander County was named for Dr. William M. Alexander, a pioneer and physician held in high esteem in the early 1800’s. He was an agent for the town of America, the first county seat and later became Speaker of the House of Representatives. The county was organized in 1819 and was the first county established in Illinois. At the 1820 census, the county boasted only 625 residents in its 236 square miles of land. Since its organization, the county seat has changed several and is today located in Cairo. The county population swelled to more than 19,000 in 1900 but as of the 2000 census the count sat at 1900.

After leaving Mound City, follow Illinois Route 51 south to Illinois Route 3, turn east. This brings you into the city of Cairo, once a bustling city and key location during the Civil War. General Ulysses S. Grant made his base of operations here at Fort Defiance at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Fort Defiance itself is no longer here but a state park occupies the same grounds at the very tip of the state. Here you can actually see the waters of the two mighty rivers swirling as they rush to meet each other. The Boatman’s Memorial, erected on this site gives a breathtaking view of the two rivers and honors those who have lost their lives on the river. Read More

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