Tale of Two Pike Counties

Read about our day in Pike County. Pike County Illinois and Pike County Missouri!

As we started out the day, the temperatures were in the high twenties and the sun was shining. We had breakfast in Waverly at Verda Mae’s, which has recently reopened on Saturdays for breakfast. The food and service was first rate as always, then we headed on!

Next we traveled to our first farm toy show of the year the show was hosted by Bill & Marilyn’s Farm Toys. Hooray! Many have been cancelled, as is understandable with COVID. This was a small, but very welcome affair in Moscow Mills MO.

We traveled to this event, then decided to check out Pike County on both the Missouri and Illinois side of the state lines!

Pike County on the Missouri Side.

Pike County is a lovely area with some fascinating history. Some I knew, but yesterday, we learned a lot.

The County was first organized December 14, 1818. Named for Zebulon Pike, the explorer, the county seat is Bowling Green, which we did not visit. There is an article about its history penned by  I. Walter Basye. In the opening of his article he states, “Who has not heard of Pike County, its famous men, its beautiful women, its schools and its churches, its undulating prairies, green carpeted valleys and sun kissed vine clad hills, its crystal streams, its macadamized roads rivaling the old Appian Way, its delightful climate, its fine farms, fruits and flowers? It is God’s country.…”

We certainly thought it lovely! Our first stop was at a fun His & Hers Antique shop in Eolia, where sadly, everything I wanted had a big old SOLD sign on it! I loved the fact that there was a park across the street with a cool Gazebo.

Louisiana, MO

Next we headed to the historic town of Louisiana. It was our favorite stop on the Missouri side. Watching a video of Louisiana history I found this beautiful town was founded in 1816 by John Walter Basye and named after his daughter, Louisiana.

John Brooks Henderson statue

A lot can be learned from the murals and historic sites. John Brooks Henderson was born in Virginia but moved to Louisiana at the age of six. The plaque states. “By age 10, he was an orphan. Henderson overcame what could have been a life of obscurity to be a Pike County teacher, lawyer, and state legislator… During the early part of the Civil War, he served as a brigadier general in Missouri’s Union militia. In 1862, he was appointed a U.S. Senator… Though, a one time slave owner himself, Henderson in 1864, drafted and introduced the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing human bondage.”

He also supported women’s voting rights and better relations with Native Americans. There is a beautiful view of he Champ Clark Bridge and history of both the new and old bridge. Perhaps our favorite thing was the antebellum homes and the amazing (though now closed) Ansar Shrine building.

On their home page I read that “Louisiana is one of three communities that formed the 50 Miles of Art corridor” the towns comprise Louisiana, Clarksville and Hannibal.

We really wanted to eat at the Steamboat Bistro, but missed the lunch hours. We will have to come back!

Being a farm girl, I couldn’t pass up the chance to pose in front of a Ford mural.

I love this cool Ford mural!

Pike County Illinois History

Champ Clark Bridge into Illinois

Pike County Illinois started out as a huge county that included Madison County. From 1821 to 1822 it included all the land between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers and what was then the small town of Chicago! Then in 1825, the legislature changed the rules making the county its current and more manageable size.

Pike County Details

Not far into Illinois we stopped at a historic marker sharing a bit of information about Louis Joliet and Pierre Marquette. There was also a bit of history about Lincoln, and his Secretary’s John Hay and John Nicolay , which leads to the Pike County town of Pittsfield.

In Atlas, IL we stopped at a diner and spied the oldest home in Pike County. This drive had so many lovely buildings a huge old church and one of my favorites a WWI solider next to an old antique mall!

Driving through Pittsfield it is always fun to see the beautiful courthouse in Pittsfield! There is so much history in this town. A tour of the courthouse is in order if you have time to see the Civil War flag (again, check COVID rules first).

Pike County Courthouse in the snow!

As we headed home, the snow started falling in earnest and we were glad we began the day with my mom’s travel advice, “to always say a travel prayer.”

Have you been to either the Illinois or Missouri Pike County? Tell me about your visit!

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  1. Jennifer L Brommer

    These towns look super neat and historical! I love that you’re still traveling and exploring despite the snow flurries in the background. That is Midwest living, for sure!

    1. Cindy

      Thanks, it was a great day. The snow did come down at the end of the day, and you are right, it did get a bit wintry, but it is February!

  2. Jamie

    I haven’t been to either, but I love a good Midwestern road trip. Especially if it involves small towns and history!

    1. Cindy

      Me too, small towns have such amazing stories to tell!

  3. Rob + Ann @TravelLatte

    What a fun trip! Of course, we had to start by looking up “macadamized” – who knew there was a name for that? 😆 Very intrigued by the 50 Miles of Art. Hannibal is the only town we’ve visited in the trio, but are intrigued enough to return and visit the others. That’s just the sort of road trip we love! Thanks for sharing, and introducing us to the Pikes!

    1. Cindy

      Such cool places with history I learned as I traveled!