Petersburg is the quintessential Illinois summer vacation destination.
The town began as a planned community organized by real estate speculators Peter Lukins (for whom the town is named) and George Warburton. Abraham Lincoln worked as the surveyor who first mapped, measured and help to divide lots on the land. Petersburg quickly grew, due to an advantageous placement on the river, becoming the county seat in the 1830s and eventually drawing off the population of New Salem, which was abandoned in 1840.
Many of the lush Victorian-era homes built by early wealthy inhabitants still stand on the bluffs of Petersburg. The town itself takes great pride in these structures.
Local legend has it that town's name came about when Peter Lukins and George Warburton, two notorious sots, argued over what to call it. The matter was allegedly settled over a game of cards, which Lukins is credited as winning. Most versions of the tale claim that Warburton had it in mind to name the village "Georgetown." This story, though often told in the area, has not been historically verified.
Petersburg is a city in Menard County, Illinois, on the bluffs and part of the floodplain overlooking the Sangamon River.
Petersburg is located approximately two miles north of New Salem, the original settlement where Abraham Lincoln first settled when he came to Illinois. It is also home to the Illinois Duel Team State Champions in the sport of wrestling. If you love small town life, Petersburg is the place to live. This town is full of friendly people and wonderful scenery.
Petersburg is a great day trip from Chicago, Springfield or Champaign. The town caters to Lincoln enthusiasts as a gateway to New Salem and in housing some relics of Lincoln's early life in Illinois.
Petersburg can also be low-key summer vacation spot with cozy restaurants and miles of hiking trails, biking trails and great canoeing. If you're thinking about your first trip to "Petersburg", we aim to provide the basics to help you plan your trip. Just follow the links below and we'll help you learn more about Petersburg.
Points of Interest in Petersburg
- Lincoln's New Salem State Park: This park, with its log cabin village, is situated two miles south of Petersburg. This is where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1831 to 1837. Along with the rebuilt cabins, the park also boasts a historical center and an outdoor theater. It now has more than one-half million visitors each year.
- Starhill Forest Arboretum
- Edgar Lee Masters Home: Located on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets in Petersburg. Open from 10:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- The New Salem Country Opry: The longest continuously running country music show in Illinois. It is located about a mile south of New Salem with shows every Saturday at 8:00 p.m.
Notable people who lived in Petersburg
- Edgar Lee Masters, law partner of Clarence Darrow and known for the book Spoon River Anthology. Masters' boyhood home is still preserved and open for visits.
- Ann Rutledge, allegedly Abraham Lincoln's first love. She is buried in Petersburg's Oakland Cemetery.
- Major Benjamin F. Stephenson, M.D, the founder of the Grand Army of the Republic, lies buried in Petersburg's Rose Hill Cemetery.