The following are locations of historical interest in and around Ottawa, Illinois.


As early as the 1820s, settlers, trappers and traders moved into the area, near modern Ottawa, Illinois, trading with the native tribes living along the Illinois River. The name “Ottawa” comes from the Indian phrase “Awdawe,” meaning – to trade.

During the 1830s, a settlement formed at the confluence of the Illinois and Fox Rivers around Fort Ottawa. The Green brothers cleared land and built a sawmill and a gristmill, grinding the first wheat by water power in northern Illinois in 1830. That year, the town of Ottawa was platted and, in 1831, with the creation of LaSalle County, was named the county seat.

When work on the Illinois and Michigan Canal began in 1836, it’s original terminus was planned for Ottawa, Illinois. Canal operations led to the growth and economic development of Ottawa, Illinois. In 1853 Ottawa, Illinois received its City Charter from the State.

Ottawa, Illinois was the site of the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. The Ottawa, Illinois debate between Stephen A. Douglas, leader of the Democratic Party, and Abraham Lincoln was held in Washington Park, across from the Reddick Mansion.

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