Welcome to the official website for the City of Oglesby, where rivers and friends meet. Oglesby is one of the nicest towns filled with some of the kindest people you will ever meet.
Our City’s history has been based, first on coal, then on the cement industries. Although still grounded in the cement industry our immediate proximity to Interstates 80 and 39 positions us as an excellent location for the distribution industry.
Additionally, we are located within 5 miles of three state parks, at the confluence of three rivers, which provide excellent fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and rafting. This along with fine golf courses, riding stables, and extensive wooded areas, offers the outdoor enthusiast many recreational opportunities.
Although our community is the smallest of the three in the immediate Illinois Valley, it offers us a small town atmosphere yet gives us access to many amenities such as a shopping mall, fine restaurants, hospitals, great schools including a community college, professional services, and some of the finest parks in the area.
We encourage you to visit Oglesby, where you will find us situated in the middle of many diverse things to do. Should you like to know more about Oglesby, just follow the links provided, or better yet, join us at some of our activities listed on the site.
The north-flowing Vermilion River and the south-flowing Middle Fork Vermilion River run on what is close to a straight line between Oglesby and Danville. Photo courtesy Vermillion Photography
As Oglesby enters the new millennium, the City is well positioned for expansion and growth. Under the capable leadership of Mayors Kamnikar, Pittman, Cullinan, and Scott, and their respective city commissioners, the geographical size of the city has doubled during the last twenty five years. The city limits now extend west across Route 251 and include Illinois Valley Community College and Cedar Creek Subdivision and south to include the Lone Star property, formerly Marquette Cement Company. Each of these City Councils has made significant contributions to the reshaping of the City in the last quarter century.
Rightfully called “The Shortcut to Starved Rock” and “The Closest City to Starved Rock”, Oglesby enjoys a strategic position in the Illinois Valley to take advantage of the tourist trade that Starved Rock generates. Oglesby is conveniently “stuck” between the proverbial “Rock” and the “Hard Place” (the concrete surface of I-39). This prime location will bring people to the area looking for places to stay and eat.
The population of Oglesby is approximately 3619.
The approximate number of families is 1591.
The amount of land area in Oglesby is 9.127 sq. kilometers.
The amount of surface water is 0 sq kilometers.
The distance from Oglesby to Washington DC is 681 miles. The distance to the Illinois state capital is 109 miles.
Oglesby is positioned 41.29 degrees north of the equator and 89.06 degrees west of the prime meridian.
Shown to the left: Governor Richard Oglesby, for whom the City of Oglesby was named (1824-1899) was a Union general in the American Civil War and an Illinois political leader. His birthplace was Oldham Co., Kentucky.
He moved to Decatur, Illinois where he became a lawyer. Oglesby fought in the Mexican War and went to California in the gold rush, but in 1851 he resumed his practice in Decatur. In the Civil War he rose to be a major general of volunteers.
He fought under Ulysses S. Grant at Belmont and Fort Donelson and was severely wounded at Corinth (1862). Resigning his commission in 1864, he served as governor of Illinois (1865-69, 1873), U.S. Senator (1873-79), and again governor (1885-89).
For more information about what is going on in Oglesby now see the Calendar of Events.
For more details surrounding the history of Oglesby visit our History page.
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Starved Rock State Park. Photo courtesy Vermillion Photography
The recorded history of the Illinois Valley reaches back over three centuries to the explorations of French explorers Louis Joliet and Father Marquette in 1673 and their discovery of a large Indian settlement on the Illinois River at Starved Rock. Starved Rock acquired its name with the legend of a band of Illini Indians who chose to starve atop the rock during a siege by Ottawa and Potawatomi Indians, rather than surrender.
Modern Valley history began with the first pioneer settlers who arrived in the early 1800’s. The Illinois River and the rich soil of the Illinois Valley attracted these early settlers. Opportunities for work on construction of the Illinois-Michigan Canal in 1836 drew thousands more. The cities of LaSalle, Peru, DePue, Hennepin, and Utica had their beginnings between 1820 and 1840. In the early 1850’s, construction of the Illinois Central and the Rock Island railroads brought a new influx of labor and early industry to the area.
Rapid industrial expansion followed. Area coal mines provided an economical power source, and the river, railroads, and the Illinois-Michigan canal offered a convenient mix of transportation. Among the companies founded before 1900 are W.H. Maze Company (1854), Marquette Cement Company, now Lone Star (1898) and American Nickeloid Company (1898).
Industrialization led to the founding of new cities and villages. Spring Valley established in 1885, Ladd in 1890, and Oglesby in 1902. The era of coal mining ended with the closing of the most mines in the 1920’s.
As a result, the Illinois Valley recognized the need for industrial diversification. And, as their pioneer forefathers met the challenges of their time, modern Illinois Valley leaders pooled their knowledge and skills to attract new industry.
Their successes in the effort include the Hobbs Divisions of Stewart-Warner Corporation, American Hoccht (now known as Huntsman Chemical), Sundstrand Corporation (today Sauer Sundstrand), Jones & Laughlin Steel (now LTV Steel Corporation), and many others.
Transportation spurred the Illinois Valley’s initial growth in the early 1800’s and is again playing an important role in accelerating commercial and industrial development with the current location of major distribution centers and manufacturing operations. The Illinois Valley’s east-west 1-80 and new north-south new 1-39 position the Valley as a vigorous crossroads and industrial center for the 21st century.
*Information courtesy Oglesby, Our Home Town written by the Oglesby Historical Society.