Hardin County was officially established on March 2, 1839, and named for Hardin County, Kentucky through the influence of immigrants from that county. The county seat in Hardin County, Kentucky, is also named Elizabethtown.
The Hardin County Courthouse, a simple red brick structure, was built in 1926. It overlooks downtown Elizabethtown from a small hill on Main Street, about three blocks up from the Ohio River. The courthouse It is topped by the Fowler Clock Tower, named for three Fowler brothers, two of them doctors and a the other a congressman.
Hardin County has a total population of 4,725 and is far from any metropolitan area.
The First Baptist Church of Elizabethtown happens to also be the oldest continuing Baptist church in the state of Illinois. A historical marker on the front of the church states that the congregation was first constituted as the Big Creek Baptist Church by Elders Stephen Stilley and William Jones on July 19, 1806. Services have been held continuously since that date. The original location was two miles west of present day Elizabethtown.
Another plaque on the front of the church is in memory of now deceased members of the congregation. The first name of 40 listed is Eddie Conn. I wonder if he could have been a distant relative of mine.
14 Reviews and Opinions
All guests at the Grand Rose Hotel are treated to a wonderful full country breakfast. It is served only at 8:00 a.m. and you can help yourself to scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, gravy, hash brown potatoes, waffles, coffee and orange juice.
The breakfast is personally prepared by the proprietor, Sandy Vinyard. Sandy is not only a good cook but also a very likeable, outgoing person. As we ate our breakfast on the two mornings we were at the Grand Rose, we enjoyed talking with her about the history of the hotel, Illinois politics, and the friendly ghosts that are said to be heard occasionally in the hotel late at night.
There were two restaurants in downtown Elizabethtown, but both of them displayed "Closed" signs. We weren't sure if they were closed permanently or just for the season. Maybe it was because electric power had just been restored to the town after a severe ice storm a few days earlier.
Upon inquiring at our hotel, we learned that a new restaurant had just opened a couple of weeks earlier in an old house on the hill near the Hardin County Courthouse. We found the house with a few cars and trucks parked in front but nothing indicated that it was a restaurant. We hesitantly knocked on the front door and were welcomed in to find a very enjoyable eating experience.
Word of mouth must have let the whole town know about
Ms. Lizzie's, because the place was packed. The simple menu offered a choice of three meats and several vegetables for dinner, for only $5.95 per plate. Iced tea was another dollar. Our server told us she was sorry that there was no more pie or cobbler left that day since all they had prepared had already been eaten.
Favorite Dish: I thoroughly enjoyed my meal of marinated chicken breast, with green beans, mashed potatoes and pan fried cornbread.
Shopping is definitely limited in Elizabethtown. In the downtown area most of the old storefronts are closed and the buildings are for sale. There is a convenience store, a package shop, a couple of bars, and Hardin County Main Street, the shop pictured here. Not only were Karen and I the only customers at Hardin County Main Street on the day of our visit. We saw no other shoppers in the entire town.
What to buy: Hardin County Main Street contains a small antique mall called The Ole Heritage Shoppes, with booths from a dozen or so vendors. There is also an Information Center in a front corner of the building, with tourist brochures of area attractions. An older lady was operated the place when we were there and I felt that we may have awakened, or at least startled, her when we came in out of the cold. Icy winds were whipping down Main Street that day and the town was virtually empty. I spent $1.00 here, for a used video on plant propogation which caught my eye.
Open Wednesday through Saturday
Hours 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
What to pay: Not much.
It took us three days of trying to reach the Garden of the Gods, about 30 miles north of Elizabethtown off Illinois Hwy. #1. On the first two days we turned back because of ice and snow covered roads. It was worth the extra effort when we finally found the way clear on the final day of our weekend trip.
This dramatic spot in the Shawnee National Forest allows the visitor to step back through 200 million years of geologic formations. We hiked the 1/4 mile Observation Trail which took us to scenic bluffs and numerous outstanding sandstone rock formations such as Camel Rock, Anvil Rock and the Devil's Smokestack. For more serious hikers, the winding River to River Trail goes from the Garden of the Gods east to the Ohio River or west to the Mississippi.
Garden of the Gods Wilderness was designated as a wilderness area by the Illinois Wilderness Act of 1990. Facilities include picnic tables, pit toilets a parking area and hiking trails. It is a recreation area of the Shawnee National Forest, open 24/7, and free to the public.
The gazebo pictured here stands on the rocky point of a bluff overlooking the Ohio River, in front of the Grand Rose Hotel. At the time of our visit to Elizabethtown, the river was at flood stage, several feet above it's normal water level.
When Elizabethtown was founded, the Ohio River was the major highway leading into this section of the old Northwest Territory. Hence, Elizabethtown was founded as a river port. Although the riverboat era has long since passed, the Ohio River still is an overpowering presence in this small town. Big barges, pleasure boats, and occasional old fashioned paddleboats all pass by this point, but few of them stop at Elizabethtown any more. The Shawnee Queen River Taxi takes passengers on one way and round trip passage to historic river towns in Hardin County, along the Ohio, but it was not operating at the time of our visit because of the dangerous high waters.
The Ohio River begins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers. The river flows past the states of West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois before finally emptying into the Mississippi. The Ohio is the Mississippi's largest tributary.
Shawnee Queen River Taxi