Welcome to the City of Chillicothe

About the City

Welcome to Chillicothe...  Where the Rails Cross the River

The City of Chillicothe is located in Peoria County in Central Illinois and is approximately 15 miles north of Peoria along the Illinois River and Illinois Route 29. We are fortunate to have Illinois Route 29 connect our community with Peoria’s Interstate 474 loop just 8 miles to the south. The nearest major cities are Chicago, about 150 miles to the northeast, and St. Louis, 172 miles to the southwest.

Chillicothe’s historical past is rich in the railroads and the river.  Two railroads cross here, and one bridges across the Illinois River; hence the tag line of “Chillicothe; Where the Rails Cross the River”.  To help you appreciate our history, the Chillicothe Historical Society operates from two locations; the main museum at 723 N. Fourth Street and the Rock Island Depot Museum/Caboose located at the corner of Cedar Street and Third Street are open Wednesdays from 1 - 4 p.m. and the first Sunday of the month. Admission is free; donations are appreciated.

Nestled in the Illinois River Valley, Chillicothe has beautiful scenery.  Bald eagles and white pelicans can be seen in the skies over town nearly all year.  One of our many annual events is “Eagle Days” during which bird enthusiasts visit from all around the area.  Besides the river, recreational opportunities include Shore Acres pool and Water Park, Moffitt Nature Park, Pearce Community & Fitness Center, the Chillicothe Recreation Center, the Chillicothe Skate Park, Santa Fe Park Splash Pad, and more. Take in a movie at the Optimist Town Theater and enjoy a bit of nostalgic architecture in our historic Downtown on 2nd Street.  While downtown, enjoy the restaurants and the shops, and tour the numerous antique stores. 

If you are thinking of relocating to Chillicothe, we have a safe town with a small-town appeal, a diverse housing stock, and Illinois Valley School District is one of the best in the area.  Three public grade schools feed into IVC High School, the home of the Grey Ghosts, which, along with its sports programs, has one of the best musical band programs in the State.  We also have two private school opportunities; St. Edwards School and Calvary Baptist Academy. 

The basic functions of Chillicothe City Government are to provide a safe environment and to maintain our infrastructure.  The City Council oversees a professional police department and our public works crew.  We also maintain our own water department, our own beautiful cemetery, and eight public parks. To learn more about the City, contact our Economic Development Director, Amanda Beadles, at 309-274-3107.

 Please come and visit; you won’t be disappointed!  You might want to stay . . .

Chillicothe at 187 Years
1830-Five Ohio families put together a group of ten wagons and set out for the Illinois Prairie. They arrived at the village of Peoria and were aided by local Native Americans to cross the Illinois River. The next day the group moved to the north end of LaSalle Prairie and settled on land two-and-a- half miles east of the river. 

1832-Erastus C. Root bought the SW1/4 of Section 21 and set up his farm. 

1834-Root and Samuel T. McKean platted the original town of Chillicothe. 

1836-The entire town of four blocks was sold to Harrison Jameson and Joseph Hart, who added twenty blocks and filed another plat of Chillicothe. 

1850-Settlers from the east steadily arrived and had grown to be the major community in northern Peoria County. 

1852-Henry Truitt, partner of Tobias Bradley, established a grain business. 
1853-Isaac Underhill of Peoria and John Moffitt of Chillicothe led a group of Peoria businessmen to build the Peoria and Bureau Valley Railroad (P&BVRR) to connect Peoria to Chicago. The Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad leased the line in perpetuity.

1886-The second oldest bank in Peoria County, Truitt-Matthews Bank (Now Better Banks) was established.

1887-The town grew and the Chicago & Santa Fe RR (later ATSF) came through Chillicothe. Agricultural efforts in Chillicothe, Hallock and Medina Townships became a primary factor in the growth and development of Chillicothe.