Madison County, Illinois was organized as an Illinois County from a 725 square mile land tract in 1825. It was actually formed before Illinois became a state. Madison originally contained all of the land considered part of modern day Illinois north of St. Louis. (1790-1812). By proclamation on September 4th, 1812, the new county was named for James Madison, the fourth president of the United States. President Madison had also been a member of the Continental Congress, and the Federal Constitutional Convention of 1787.
The population growth rate established in the decade between 1990 and 2000 is a continuing trend, with the US Census estimate of 264,350 residents in 2004. Sure and steady growth for this area is tied to St. Louis, Missouri. Situated in the southwestern corner of the state, Madison County shares the economic potential of St. Louis more so than Illinois’ foremost economic city of Chicago, which is a considerable distance to the north. Located in the almost exact center of Madison County is the county seat of Edwardsville, Illinois.
Much of the population and industry is centered in Edwardsville and other small cities like Alton. Shipping businesses dominate the river area. National and regional transportation and distribution are the focus of the Gateway Commerce Center. Manufacturing, Education and Health Care are the largest employers in Madison County, IL. Olin Brass Co. and US Steel employ over 7000 people alone. Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville ranks third in the number of people it employs, with over 2,300 workers at their various locations throughout Madison County, Illinois.
Residents of Madison County are just slightly below the Illinois state averages with median household income at $41,541 and a per capita money income of $20,509. The unemployment rate for Madison County has been fluctuating near a modest 5-6% rate for the last decade.
Twelve distinct districts handle education for students in Madison County. They benefit greatly from the Madison County Career and Technical Education System. Located in Edwardsville, this center was a charter member of the nationwide L.I.T.E.S. initiative, or Leaders In Technology Enhanced Schools. An abundance of private schools, numbering near 30, can be found in all corners of Madison County. Montessori, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and a large percentage of Christian Academies proliferate the more urban cities. Lewis & Clark Community College is known as one of the state’s finest. Its level of community involvement, wide-ranging courses and youth programs helps maintain its outstanding status in the Madison County, IL area. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is noted for it’s excellent Schools of Engineering, Dental Medicine, Business, Arts and Sciences plus and first-rate athletics program.
The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle can be found in Madison County, Illinois just south of downtown Collinsville. At 170 Feet tall, it has no rivals for the title. The giant catsup bottle is actually a water tower built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Co. for the catsup bottling plant of G.S. Suppiger, purveyors and bottlers of Brooks Rich & Tangy Catsup. Madison County is quite proud of this grand piece of 20th-century Americana.
Madison County, Il is home to the Lewis & Clark State Memorial Park. These great explorers made camp in the Wood River/Hartford area in the winter of 1803-1804. Several miles south of the current mouth of the Wood River (River Dubois), is Camp River Dubois. This new facility, operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is designated as site #1 on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The camp features the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, a replica of the 1803-04 winter encampment, and the Lewis and Clark Monument.
Another unique place to visit in Madison County is the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville. Cahokia has been referred to as the Mecca of the Mississippian culture. It holds the remains of a sub tribe of the Illini Indians who lived in the region. These 2,200-acres have been designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for its importance in understanding the cultural heritage of the native civilizations in North America.
Another attraction, and one near the top of the list for outdoor fun, is the Horseshoe Lake State Park, in Granite City, IL. There you’ll find a 2,960-acre park surrounding Oxbow Lake - quite a popular site for fishing, birding, boating, camping and hiking. There are over a dozen additional Parks and Historical settings for visitors to this modern yet historical region of Southern Illinois.
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