Visitor's Guide to Kampsville, Illinois


Visitors Guide to the
Calhoun County, Illinois

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In 1863, German immigrant and Civil War veteran, Captain M. L. Kamp moved into Calhoun County and set up a general store and post office in Silver Creek, just north of the site of present day Kampsville. Kamp flourished as a farmer and merchant and in 1869 Kamp purchased a tract of land south of Silver Creek and began to develop it. Originally called Farrow Town, the town was renamed Kampsville in honor of this popular citizen. The wealth and success of Kamp is reflected in the red brick home at the intersection of Routes 100 and 108 that he had built for his family in 1882.

In 1902 Captain Kamp turned over to his son, Joseph A. Kamp, a newly constructed and completely supplied store with one dollar in the cash register. This store is one of the few surviving early commercial buildings in Calhoun County. The store was an important center of commerce for Calhoun County and much of the business conducted used the barter system that allowed Kampsville to grow despite a shortage of money. Apples, peaches, lumber and fish were traded at Kampís store for supplies and later resold and shipped down river to destinations such as St. Louis. The store was sold to the Capps family when Joseph Kamp died in 1952 and after several owners was acquired by the Center for American Archeology in 1991. The building was named to the National Register of Historical Places in 1994.

Kamp and other European settlers werenít the first people to find the breakthrough bluff tops and the rolling hill country an attractive place to live. The area is located in one of the world's richest archeological regions with recorded human habitation dating back to the Early Archaic period (8500-6000 B.C.) Kampsville is home of the Center of American Archeology, which conducts ongoing excavations and educates future archeologists as well as the public. The CAA features exhibits and displays in its Visitor's Center, a museum facility located in Kamp's Store and its administrative offices are located in the Kamp familyís former home.

Kampsville is the site of the Kampsville Free Ferry, one of four ferries that connect Calhoun County to the rest of the world. The town hosts annual events throughout the year including Old Settlers Days and a series of educational events by the CAA. Just south of town on the Great River Road (Route 100) is the McCully Heritage Project with 12 miles of nature trails and other recreational activities.

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