Peru, Illinois is a small city located in LaSalle County, in the north-central part of the state. Over the years, this area has been witness to several significant events that have shaped the history of the region and the country at large. Here are seven of the most important historical events that have taken place near Peru.
1. The Fort St. Louis massacre - In 1682, the French explorer Robert Cavelier de La Salle established a fort near present-day Peru that he named Fort St. Louis. In 1684, a group of Spanish soldiers attacked and massacred most of the French inhabitants of the fort, ending French colonization efforts in the area.
2. The Erie Canal - In the early 19th century, the Erie Canal was constructed to connect the Great Lakes with the Hudson River, facilitating trade and commerce throughout the Northeast. The canal's completion in 1825 helped make Peru a prominent shipping and trading hub.
3. The Civil War - Peru was not directly involved in the Civil War, but the area contributed a significant number of soldiers to fight for both the Union and the Confederacy. Several local families lost members in the conflict.
4. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad - The arrival of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in Peru in the mid-1800s brought more business and industry to the area, helping to spur economic growth.
5. The St. Bede Abbey fire - In 1978, a massive fire destroyed the main building of the St. Bede Abbey, a Catholic monastery and school in nearby Ladd. The fire was one of the largest in Illinois history and resulted in millions of dollars in damage.
6. The LaSalle-Peru Township High School shooting - In 1972, a 17-year-old student at LaSalle-Peru Township High School opened fire on his classmates, killing three and injuring several others. The incident was one of the first mass shootings in modern American history and sparked a national conversation about gun control.
7. The Illinois River flooding - The Illinois River, which runs through Peru, has been subject to frequent flooding throughout history. Some of the worst floods occurred in 1913, 1937, and 1952, causing widespread damage to homes and businesses in the area.
In conclusion, Peru, Illinois has been a witness to several significant historical events that have shaped the region and the country as a whole. From early colonization efforts to modern tragedies, these events offer a glimpse into the rich history of this small Midwestern city.
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