Visitors Guide to
Pittsfield

Pike County, Illinois
 

 
"Welcome to Pittsfield, Illinois"

Pittsfield is located between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers and is the county’s largest community and county seat. In 1825 the final boundaries of Pike County were set, the county once covered all of Illinois north of the Illinois River, and several years later its citizens desired a central county seat. A commission was formed and in March of 1833 laid out the site of the town and the first lots were sold in May. The new town was given the name of Pittsfield after the town in Massachusetts from where many of the county’s earliest and most prominent citizens had come from. Immediately after the town was laid out the first courthouse was erected. It was an unremarkable frame building built on the north side of the square. A larger courthouse was erected in 1838-9. The current building is considered one of the ten most beautiful courthouses in Illinois. The corner stone, designed by Architect Henry Elliott, for the octagonal shaped building was laid July 12, 1894.

For years after the settlement of the Pittsfield nearly all goods being shipped or received were transported by wagon to the steamboat landing at Florence, twelve miles to the east. In 1851 a private corporation constructed a plank road connecting Pittsfield and Florence to make travel easier. When the old Jacksonville and Naples was extended to Hannibal, and as the new line was located some six miles north of Pittsfield, it was feared that it would retard the growth of the town. To prevent this, a branch line was built from Pittsfield to Maysville in 1870, connecting with the Hannibal and Naples line.

Abraham Lincoln was intimately associated with Pittsfield. Lincoln had many friends in Pittsfield and spent a great deal of time here beginning in the 1830's. His law practice and political ambitions brought him back to Pike County numerous times. There are probably more houses associated with Lincoln in Pittsfield that any other city in the state. A car-radio audio tour has been developed and takes visitors to eight houses and two sites where you can hear the stories of the houses and the people that knew Lincoln. Nearly 550 documents of cases associated with Lincoln were found in the Pike County courthouse records. Two of Lincoln’s personal secretaries, John Hay and John George Nicolay, have Pittsfield roots. In the courthouse rotunda is a photograph of Lincoln that was taken in Pittsfield on October 1, 1858 by Calvin Jackson after a speech during his senatorial campaign versus Stephen A. Douglas. Visitors may tour the courthouse during business hours at their leisure.

Pork packing became Pittsfield's chief industry and the town proclaimed itself the "Pork Capital" of the Midwest. Although pork industry is not what it once was, the town still hosts a yearly "Pig Days" festival with pork related activities and pork related culinary specialties. The architecture in the area around the courthouse is basically two-story business buildings that date to the late 1890's. Most of the elegant, older houses in town have survived beautifully and stand along wonderful tree lined streets. A large section of Pittsfield around the courthouse was declared the Pittsfield Historic District in 1980. The Historic East School has been turned into a museum by the Pike County Historical Society. The museum has limited hours May through October or can be visited by appointment. The Pike County Visitors Center, with a 24-hour foyer, is located just several blocks west of the courthouse and provides information to visitors about events, activities, and attractions.

www.pittsfieldil.org
The official website of the town of Pittsfield. This web site has detailed information about the town, its history, the things to do, and local events
.

FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
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State Historic Site
Quincy Museum,
Quincy, Illinois
John Wood Mansion
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Chief Keokuk Statue
Keokuk, Iowa
     




 
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