Visitor's Guide to Hardin, Illinois


Visitors Guide to the
Calhoun County, Illinois

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Hardin was originally called Childs’ Landing named after a Benjamin Childs who arrived in 1835. Childs was engaged in the mercantile business and operated the landing and shipped much cordwood, staves, and lumber to the St. Louis market. It was not until the construction of the county buildings that the settlement became important. After the courthouse and the jail burned down at Gilead an election was held to determine the new county seat.  Gilead, Hamburg, and Childs Landing were the three communities vying to be selected. Childs offered to donate five acres of land and fifty thousand bricks if the county seat were moved to his landing and sweetened the pot with a barbeque. After the voters chose Childs Landing in a landslide the citizens of Hamburg complained that election obtained a majority by fraudulent means. The County Commissioners disagreed and on August 27, 1847, the Commissioners agreed that the county seat should be at Childs’ Landing “for it would be more satisfactory to the citizens, generally,” and that the Commissioners should “cause the same to be laid off into a town, as also a Public Square, for the purpose of erecting a court house thereon.”

The five acres of land given by Mr. Childs was the land where most of the businesses in Hardin are now located. Part of the land was reserved as a place where the public buildings might be erected, and the remainder divided into lots and sold to the highest bidder. The money received from the sale of the lots was used in constructing the public buildings. Although the public records make no indication of the reason for the change of the town’s name from Childs’ Landing to Hardin in 1847 it is generally accepted that the new name was in honor of Colonel John J. Hardin. Hardin was commissioned Colonel of the First Illinois Volunteers at the outbreak of the Mexican War and was killed in early 1847 while leading a charge at Buena Vista.

Calhoun County is an isolated county almost surrounded by the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Often referred to as the ‘Kingdom’, Calhoun County is sparsely populated with only 5 incorporated towns with Hardin being the largest. The only bridge, the Joe Page Bridge, into the county is located in Hardin and the town has several restaurants having riverfront views, making Hardin a popular lunch spot for Bald Eagle watchers in the winter.
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