Madison County was founded in 1812 and originally included all of the land that is north of St. Louis that is now present day Illinois and extended north into all of Wisconsin, part of Minnesota and the upper peninsula of Michigan. Madison County went through several border changes over the next 30 years drastically reducing its size as new states and Illinois counties were formed until its present size was established in 1843. Today, Madison County covers over 740 square miles of land.
Madison County Illinois is located just east of St. Louis across the Mississippi River. It borders the Illinois counties of St. Clair and Clinton on the south; Bond on the east; Montgomery and Macoupin on the north. The Mississippi forms most of its western border with the State of Missouri to the west. Jersey County is to the northwest.
Madison County is part of what is called the "Metro East" and refers to its part in making up the geographical area called the Metropolitan St. Louis Area. St. Clair County Illinois is also part of the Metro East. Madison County is made up of large and small cities such as Alton and Edwardsville, and villages which include Bethalto and Glen Carbon. Important roads and highways for the county include Interstates 270, 70, 255 and 55; Highways 3, 4, 67, 111, 140, 143, 157, 159 and others. For more information on the Madison County communities, go to our Madison County Illinois Communities page.
The residents of those Madison County communities have a wide variety of education choices. Public schools as well a private schools can be found in most of the communities. Public school districts include one to several elementary schools and middle schools and a single high school. Private schools include Catholic and Lutheran affiliated schools. For information on the schools located in Madison County, go to our Madison County Illinois Schools page. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville campus is located in Madison County as well as the SIU School of Dental Medicine that is located in Alton. Several community colleges are also in the county, Southwestern Illinois College-Granite City, Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and the Lewis and Clark Community College-NO Nelson Campus in Edwardsville.
Illinois is rich history and Madison County is filled with historic sites. The Piasa Bird park in Alton atests to the Native Americans that populated the area before any European settlers came. French explorers and the trappers that followed were some of those first settlers as the whole area was under French controlled and called the Illinois Country. Eventually the British after the French, then ultimately the Americans took control of the territory and the State of Illinois was formed in 1818. Some of those historic sites include the Colonel Bejamin Stephenson House, an important figure in the founding of Edwardsville and a Colonel in the War of 1812. The Camp River Dubois, a Lewis and Clark State Historic Site, is located near Hartford and the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and was the winter camp site of Lewis and Clark in 1803 before they began their famous expedition to explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory. The Lincoln Douglas Square in Alton where Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas had the last of their seven debates before the election of 1858 in which both were running for the same US Senate seat. Alton Illinois was very important in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad.
There are many historic buildings and sites in Madison County that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Some of them are very unique like the Brooks Catsup Bottle Water Tower in Collinsville. Or whimsical like the Haskell Playhouse in Alton. The Emmert-Zippel House features the Old Six Mile Museum and is located in Granite City. Another is the Leclaire Historic District that includes the entire village that N.O. Nelson built for the workers in his factory. Some of them are solemn places such as the Alton National Cemetery where 163 Union soldiers are buried. And the Alton Military Prison, where Confederate soldiers where held in deplorable conditions and many died from small pox. The prisoners that died while there are buried in North Alton Confederate Cemetery.
Below is a list of some of the many attractions, schools, historic sites and more that are located in Madison County Illinois.