The Pumpkin Patch has been growing pumpkins for over thirty years! Our farm is located in the scenic town of Caledonia, Illinois, and even though we’ve been in business for over thirty years, the history of our wonderful town goes much further back in time. And we love our town! So we have a very deep appreciation for the rich history and the wonderful stories of our home town of Caledonia, Illinois.
One of the interesting stories from our little town on the top of Boone County, Illinois is the story of The Chamberlain Hotel.
In 1853, the railroad came to our town of Caledonia. The railroad had begun expanding out from Chicago to Boone County starting in 1848, and in 1849, the first cargo load was transported from Belvidere to western Chicago. After this initial success, the railroad expanded to other parts of Boone County, and the train line reaching from Chicago to Galena branched out to reach our little town. A branch from this train line ran from Belvidere to Beloit, Wisconsin, and included a stop in our town of Caledonia, Illinois. Along with this line, another line was added that spanned from Rockford, Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, which also included a stop in Caledonia (Doyle 53).
With this new traffic running through Caledonia, new businesses began to spring up. In the 1860’s, William Gilkerson and R.H. Emerson built a hotel to accommodate the people traveling through Caledonia. The ownership of the hotel was eventually transferred to Catherine Chamberlain in 1878, and the hotel was renamed The Chamberlain Hotel. Because of the many people commuting through Caledonia, The Chamberlain Hotel became one of the most prominent business in Caledonia (Doyle 53).
With the passage of time, as we know, automobiles overtook the railroad as a preferred method of transportation. With the loss of the railroad’s popularity, businesses began to move to follow where the people were going. So, eventually, the once thriving Chamberlain Hotel fell out of business (Boone County Bicentennial Commission 34).
Despite losing its business, the actually building of The Chamberlain Hotel stood for many years. But finally by the 1970’s (over one hundred years after it was built!), since it was unused, the building began to fall into disrepair (Boone County Bicentennial Commission 34).
However, the buidling was able to live on. The Chamberlain Hotel was moved from its original location in Caledonia to Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois. It now sits alongside the other historic buildings that form Midway Village’s recreated town, and you can go and see this building that played such an important role in our town’s history and in the history of Boone County (Boone County Bicentennial Commission 34). For more information on visiting The Chamberlain Hotel, click here for Midway Village’s official website:
At The Pumpkin Patch, we strongly believe in supporting and cherishing our local heritage, or in other words, we love Caledonia! So come out and visit us this fall at our farm to pick up your autumn pumpkins, and stay to see our beautiful hometown of Caledonia, Illinois! This fall, our family can’t wait to meet your family!
Boone County Bicentennial Commission. Boone County: Then and Now. N.C.: Boone County Bicentennial Commission, 1976. Print.
Doyle, Mike. Boone County Originals: Remarkable People and Curious Incidents.Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010. Print.