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Calhoun County, Illinois

2.5 Miles west of White Tales Lodge, at the

top of the hill on Michael Hamburg Rd.

The History of Mount Hope

Documented from photos found on the property.

Mount Hope Settlement was originally built prior to 1840. At the time Calhoun County had more native Americans than immigrants. The Mount Hope Settlement which later became a "poor farm" became its own community.  In its height, around 1900 it had 5 tenant houses, one of which boasted 22 bedrooms, 2 blacksmiths shops, a sawmill, over 15,000 orchard trees, a school house, and 3 separate cemeteries (46 people are burried here). At the center of the Mount Hope Settlement a massive 3 story barn.

The barn was the epicenter of every farm on the new frontier. Mount Hope was no exception. Originally its barn was constructed around 1830.  The original barn suffered a fire and was rebuilt and expanded sometime between 1860 and 1870. The basement of the barn was excavated by hand, removing more than 15,000 cubic feet of dirt (750 tons).  Foundation stone was hauled in by mule and wagon to line the basement.  Around 1890, redwood timbers were shipped in by steamboat to Hamburg (located 4 miles west) to replace failing oak timbers.  Since 1830 the barn has been built on 3 separate times. Howener the mortice and tennon redwood frame from 1890 remains.

During the depression, possibly 100 souls lived happily working the apple orchards and livestock of the Mount Hope Settlement. By 1940, the settlement slowly began to decline. The steamboat town of Hamburg burnt to the ground in 1938 making it very difficult to ship apples and peaches to St. Louis. By 1970 the orchards remained, but the settlement was all but gone. Only a single house was inhabited by the Retzer family who ran the Retzer Pick-Your-Own Apple Orchard until the mid 1980's.

Mount Hope Barn viewed from the south. Notice the crows nest on the roof

Workers using the Hardy Orchard sprayer

Saw blade hangs on the barn today

Steam engine saw mill was located to the

Northeast of the barn

Mount Hope School, 1903

Located 400 yards north of the barn

Largest house at

The men building the Michael Hamburg Rd, 1907

Mount Hope apples being loaded onto the

Belle of Calhoun

Mount Hope apples being

loaded in St. Louis

Piano class at Mount Hope School

The 1st Michael Rd.

Barrel making (coopering) in the barn

Girl and her lamb on the SE

corner of the barn

Blacksmith Shop