Pekin Riverfront History

History of Pekin's riverfront

Pekin Riverfront History

Pekin, Illinois 61554, United States

Created By: Pekin Public Library

Tour Information

An overview of the history of Pekin's riverfront, highlighting selected events, developments, and disasters from 1824 up to the recent past..

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

To create Pekin Riverfront Park, a section of old Front Street (Pekin's "First Street") was closed off and the old Tomen Grain elevators were torn down in the fall of 2004. The new park was dedicated and formally opened on 18 Sept. 2005. Th... Read more
The area where the Pekin Riverfront Park Overlook now stands was for a long time the site of riverside grain elevators. In the early 20th century, the Turner-Hudnet grain elevator was located at 15-19 Front Street and the Smith-Hippen Co.'s... Read more
The Pekin riverfront pier was built in 2002. In the past Pekin had several commercial fish markets along its riverfront in this area, both north and south of its bridges. Until excessive pollution of the river made it unsafe to eat river-ca... Read more
The first ferry across the Illinois River at Pekin was built in 1829 by William Clark. Later, Benjamin Prettyman was granted ferry rights over the river at Pekin. A ferry also was operated by a settler named Charles Carey, from whom Cooper'... Read more
When settlers first came to Pekin in the mid-1820s, a Native American village of Pottawatomi was situated above Pekin Lake along Gravel Ridge (north of the John T. McNaughton Bridge). Now the home of the Pekin Boat Club, Cooper's Island fo... Read more
Pekin was first visited by Abraham Lincoln in 1832 immediately after the Black Hawk War, in which Lincoln served as a militia captain, private, and spy. While canoeing alone from northern Illinois back to New Salem, Lincoln's canoe broke ... Read more
Although the 1918 Riverboat Columbia disaster is Pekin's worst river disaster, and heralded the end of the Steamboat Age, Pekin had twice before suffered lives lost in large scale riverboat wrecks. Pekin's first riverboat disaster was the w... Read more


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