Did You Know . . .
Fulton County . . .
. . . was named for Robert Fulton who invented the first successful steamboat in 1807.
. . . was part of the lands set aside to be used as payment to veterans of the War of 1812.
. . . was established five years after Illinois became a state in 1823.
. . . extended all of the way to the northern boundary of the state including present day Chicago between 1823 and 1825.
. . . now has a population of 37,069.
Illinois Routes 78 and 116 passing east to west through Farmington’s downtown, are called Fort Street, so named for the Blackhawk War era’s (early 1830s) fort that once stood near where the town’s water towers are now. Farmington itself dates to 1834, when intersecting stage coach lines supported hotels and other businesses opening later in that decade.
By 1900 the business district on Fort Street was well established. Much of it remains today, along with the attractive older homes that would have belonged to the local merchants who built and maintained the downtown over the years. Turn of the century immigration of coal miners brought new waves of Europeans to Farmington. A strong Italian heritage is still evident in today’s Italian Fest, a community-wide celebration that includes a contest to find the hidden “Grande Pomodoro” (Great Tomato). In 1912 an inter-urban passenger rail line linked Farmington with Canton a few miles to the south.
Spoon River Scenic Drive historical markers indicate the location of two private residences, visible from the street, that were stops on the Underground Railroad. One, the 1854 Riley Bristol home on the north side of Fort Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The other stands above the road on the west side of South Main Street. Farmington’s Oak Ridge Cemetery, with its first burial dating back to 1835, includes an impressive Civil War monument erected in 1892. Another monument, this one honoring Farmington’s veterans, and spanning conflicts from the Civil War to the First Persian Gulf War, can be found in Reed Park, downtown just one block north of Fort Street. This park also plays host to Scenic Drive Fall Festival vendors and visitors during Fall Festival.
Farmington boasts three other parks: Jacobs Park, with a pavilion, sports facilities, and restrooms; Dimmitt Park, with picnic pavilion, playground, and ballfield; Farmington Township Park, with a picnic pavilion, restrooms, sports facilities, playground, and a small lake. The Farmington Historical Society Museum can be found within the downtown business district.
Travel services in Farmington include restaurants, groceries, ATM banking, car wash, gasoline, convenience stores, and laundromat.