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.
Smithfield is home to the Red Brick School, a very popular stop during the Scenic Drive Fall Festival for its famous “chicken n’ noodles.” After the school closed, the building was purchased by Cass Township and transformed into a community center. It now houses the spectacularly lifelike wood carvings of Bill Swango’s Wildlife Art Gallery, a site on the Illinois River Road National Scenic Byway (call 309-783-3283 for an appointment), as well as the shops of other local craftspeople.
The 1890s era Smithfield Bank, the small rectangular brick building on Main Street beside the railroad tracks, is home to the Harold Kee Welch Memorial Studio. Welch was a Smithfield native who achieved success during the mid-1900s as a sculptor, artist, and commercial illustrator. The gallery is open during Scenic Drive Fall Festival weekends in October. An unusual, octagonal, block-built Methodist Church sits at the corner of State and Brock streets on the east side of town.