iBi - May 2013

The Tale of Peoria’s 497th Fighting Engineers
by Gabrielle Balzell
Photos courtesy of Peoria Historical Society and Caterpillar Inc.

In need of skilled workers to maintain and repair the equipment being used in India and Burma, in July of 1942, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers called on Caterpillar to form the 497th Engineer Heavy Shop Company.

Walk Down Memory Lane

Welcome to the third issue of iBi focused on local history! We always receive a great response to these issues, and they are a lot of fun to put together. Having grown up in central Illinois myself, I appreciate a little walk down memory lane… and we hope you do as well.

Retail on the River

by Deborah Dougherty
Photos courtesy of Peoria Public Library and Peoria Historical Society

For more than a century, the type and number of retail establishments would change dramatically, but the center of downtown remained the “go-to destination” for a day of shopping, dining and entertainment.

Silent Work Behind the Call for Liberty

by Dr. Junius P. Rodriguez, Eureka College
Photo by Larry Kanfer

The history of the Underground Railroad is one steeped in folklore and legend, but that has its basis in fact.

Preserving the Patchwork of Peoria

by Marvin Forssander-Baird
Central Illinois Landmarks Foundation

The pieces of our city tell the stories of generations past who loved and labored, hoped and dreamed, and helped form the world in which we live today.

Zack Monroe: A Peoria Legend

by Norman V. Kelly

From humble origins to a lifelong legacy of public service, the always dapper Zack Monroe brought a smile to everyone he met.

Bringing History to Life

by Andrew Crook

Historic World aims to make history a part of our present and future through an online network of shared, localized content.

The Larkin Legacy in Peoria

by Marilyn Leyland
Peoria Historical Society

Once branded on everything from groceries to gasoline, the Larkin name spelled “comfort, economy and happiness,” from factory to family.

Lend a Helping Hand for Local History

by Robert Killion
Peoria Historical Society

Micro-giving, crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are all new takes on an old truth: that individuals doing whatever they can, at whatever level they can, can collectively accomplish great things.

The Immigrants Who Helped Build Peoria

by Brian “Fox” Ellis
Photos courtesy of Peoria Historical Society

Hailing from Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, France and beyond, a wide range of immigrants made their mark on Peoria.

Native Tribes of Illinois

by Pj Little

The Illinois River Valley was once ruled by a confederation of Native American tribes, rich in lore and ancient history.


Spirit Celebrates Silver

by Gabrielle Balzell

The Spirit of Peoria commemorates 25 years with a host of throwback cruises and new tour offerings.