Visitor's Guide to Bethalto, Illinois


Visitors Guide to
Madison County, Illinois

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The land occupied by the village of Bethalto was once populated by Native Americans. A creek just east of town was named Indian Creek because of the numerous Kicapoo villages that could be found in the vicinity and numerous Native American relics have been found in the area. European settlers began to arrive in the area by the early 1800's. These settlers were attracted to the area because of the rich soil, good areas of suitable timber, plentiful game and access to proper roads. Although these settlers built blockhouses for protection, relations with the Native Americans were peaceful with the exception of the 1814 Wood River Massacre where seven members of the Regan and Moore families were killed just west of town.

The village was originally called Bethel and was founded in 1834. Platted in 1854, the town began to grow with the introduction of the railroad. The railroad was attracted to Bethalto because of the grain grown in the area and the regions coal mines. Coal veins in the area developed at least 40 mines in or near Bethalto during their heyday including the Yankee Diggins, one of the largest coal mines in the state. The railroad provided shipment to the Mississippi for transport of the agricultural goods and coal produced in Bethalto to the rest of the nation.

When the first Post Office was established it became known that there was another Bethel in Illinois and the village’s name was changed to Bethalto, the first four letters coming from Bethel and the last four letters coming from nearby Alton. Bethalto was chartered in 1869. The annual Homecoming Celebration was first started to honor the soldiers of World War I and continues to this day.

Today, Bethalto is principally a residential district and one of the area’s fastest growing communities. It is home to the St. Louis Regional Airport which occupies its southern sector and has a Historical Museum and many recreational sites including an arboretum with a fitness path. Nearby Cottage Hills offers additional shopping and dining opportunities.

River Ferries
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
Jacoby Arts Center
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