Visitors Guide to
Madison County, Illinois
Collinsville was first settled when John Cook built a log
cabin in 1810. In 1818 the Collins family bought Cook’s claim and cabin and
established a distillery store, ox-grist mill, sawmill, blacksmith, carpenter,
and wagon shops. A frame house was built where Clay and Aurora streets intersect
and five generations of the family lived there. The settlement that grew around
the Collins’ home had various names including Downing Station and Unionville.
The town was platted in 1837 when Elizabeth Collins subdivided her land and
since there already was a town named Unionville, the town chose the name
Collinsville after its first family.
Over the years Collinsville has been home to a number of
industries. A local blacksmith, Joseph Moore, started manufacturing cowbells in
1849. This business manufactured and sold eight sizes of bells, each with a
different sound, and gave Collinsville the nickname of "Cow Bell Capital of
America." After the railroad arrived in 1856, local coal, zinc, and lead
were shipped into Collinsville and processed. The town was also fortunate to be
located on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s track into St. Louis. The G.S. Suppiger
Co., maker of Brooks Catsup, had facilities in Collinsville and built a 77 foot
high water tower in the shape of a catsup bottle. The company closed in the
early 1960's but left the water tower standing. A preservation committee
recently raised the funds to repaint the tower which now stands as a town
landmark and is recognized by Guinness as the world’s largest catsup bottle.
The bulk of Collinsville’s early industries closed by 1950 and Collinsville
has become a bedroom type community to St. Louis, Missouri.
Collinsville holds annual events throughout the year
including the Horseradish Festival in June and Italianfest in September. A
popular model train show is held every Thanksgiving weekend at the Gateway
Center, Southwestern Illinois' premiere convention and visitors center.