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This historic town, founded in 1872, has preserved its early history with sites such as the Peterstown House, the only stagecoach stop still intact along the 60-mile Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail; the Belle Fountaine home; Morrison-Talbott Library; and Fountain Creek Bridge. Waterloo celebrates its German heritage with its sister city, Porta Westfalica, Germany.
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Quiet, tree-lined streets and carefully restored century-old buildings offer wonderful opportunities for visitors to explore the unique shops, restaurants and historic sites of Waterloo, Illinois.
by Betty Magrath
Surrounded by rich farmland east of the Mississippi River, the City of Waterloo is located within 30 minutes of downtown St. Louis. Take a drive back in time along the Great River Road (Illinois Route 3) through gentle rolling hills to tree-lined streets with century-old buildings, stately city parks, golf courses, antique shops, unique restaurants and numerous historic sites.
Photos by Bob Moore
© 1998, Southwest Illinois News
The citizens have preserved their strong German and French heritage while building for the future. Contemporary buildings including City Hall, the Harrisonville Telephone Co. and the enlarged Morrison-Talbott Library are nestled among carefully restored buildings.
The Waterloo Winery is housed in an historic old log and field stone dwelling, built in 1818, on land that was once a dairy farm. The house and barn, surrounded by tall old growth trees, proudly guard a bit of history from the encroaching subdivisions and commercial buildings. Cellar tours and wine tastings are available, Wednesday thru Sunday, from noon - 5 p.m.
The restored Belle Fontaine House, houses the Monroe County Historical Society. The house, given the French name for "beautiful spring", is located at 709 S. Church Street and is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Belle Fontaine House
According to Janet Flynn, Secretary for the Monroe County Historical Society, this fertile agricultural area, just south of Columbia, was the site of the first American settlement in Illinois after the Revolutionary War. In 1782, five Virginia soldiers ("long knives") took their military pay in Illinois land. At the time, Illinois was a county of Virginia immediately after the Revolutionary War. The first five settlers were Captain James Moore, Shadrach Bond, Sr. (Uncle of the first Governor of Illinois), James Garretson, Larkin Rutherford and Robert Kidd. Capt. James Moore built a fort at the spring as protection from Indian attacks.
It is believed that the kitchen part of the Belle Fountaine house is the original Moore log cabin. This summer, archaeologists will be researching and documenting the house and the remaining part of the old Kaskaskia Trail for placement on the National Register.
The city grew from two settlements, Peterstown on the north and Bellefontaine on the south. The Peterstown House, built in 1830 by Peter Rogers, has been refurbished and restored as a museum. The house, located at 275 North Main Street, remains as the only stage coach stop still intact along the 60-miles Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail.
In 1981, Waterloo became a sister city with Porta Westfalica, West Germany after months of active promotion and planning by Vera Kohlmeier, who serves as a state representative for the Sister Cities.
In 1825, Waterloo became the county seat of Monroe County. Today, with a population of over 7,000, the city is prospering with a vibrant business community and modern amenities including a water treatment facility, municipal power plants and volunteer fire department.
Porta Westfalica Fest - in June
Monroe County Fair - last week of July
Municipal band concerts - every Tuesday, June - Aug
Christmas Walk - last Sunday in Nov
See the Entertainment Page for more information on special events.
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