Sunday, January 30, 2022

Lost Towns of Illinois - Torino, Illinois.

In 1864, farmer Thomas Byron dug a well and struck "black diamonds" — coal. The next year, Scottish miner James Braidwood sank the first shaft. Villages and towns like Braidwood, Coal City, Carbon Hill, Diamond, Godley, and Torino sprang up like daisies. These villages were home to immigrants who worked in the area's mines. Many found employment at the K Mine, M Mine, Torino, Rixson, and Shotz mines.

The promise of work in the coal mines was what attracted 19th Century folks to these villages. One was named Torino. It was on the Will County side of the Grundy County line between the counties. Torino was two miles southeast of Braceville, Illinois, as the bird flys. Torano's approximate location.

The mine enticed investors and laborers who built houses, shops, and public buildings in the city where they toiled. By 1910, there were two general stores, a butcher shop, and a post office. Giovanni Ignazio Valeriano (aka George Ignatius Valerio) along with his brother, owned the saloon and the dance hall. 

Francesco Stefano Gioanino, born 1859 in Pratiglione, Italy, is listed in the 1910 census as Frank Giovanini, bartender, Torino, Ill., apparently, worked for George Valerio's Saloon

The 1910 census reports 525 residents in the Village of Torino, Illinois.
A. Skinner owned the coal mine and surrounding property. Skinner subdivided a small portion of his land. Then Stewart bought parcels on the east and west side of Skinner's Torino property. Skinner owned nine parcels of Torino, and Stewart owned six parcels.
Torino Plat Map, 1910

EAST/WEST STREETS: (north to south) Case St.; Main St.; Rolando St.; Brown St. 

NORTH/SOUTH STREETS: (east to west) Stewart St.; Charles St.; Buffo St.; Robertson St.; Will and Grundy County Line Road.

Torino's downfall was being a one-industry town. In July 1918, The Skinner Brothers sold the Torino mine to the Northern Illinois Coal Corporation, who thus, immediately closed Mine № 6 in Torino, putting all 60 employees out of work. 
Photo of George Valerio and his family. Probably taken sometime in the early 1920s in Coal City, Grundy County, Illinois. George is holding my grandfather, Leslie Paulino Valerio. On George's left is his second wife (my great grandmother, Ida Fenoglio Gaddò, born in Prascorsano, Italy). I'm not sure of the identities of others' standing. Sitting in the front and to the right of George. The first person is his daughter, Libbie Valerio. She was a child of his first marriage to Ida's sister, Giovanna Fenoglio Gaddò. They were both children of Antonio Fenoglio Gaddò of Prascorsano, Italy and Maria Delibera Vallero of Pertusio, Italy. Next to Libbie are two small children I don't know. At the end of that row is Catherine Valerio, daughter of George and Ida.
Barry Jernigan, the great-grandson of George Ignatius Valerio.

It appears that the mine was reopened. It's not clear if the Northern Illinois Coal Corporation reopened it or they sold the mining rights to another company. Many of the men and their families moved to the larger mines in Southern Illinois.

Today, there are few memories of the village of Torino left.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

1 comment:

  1. Today the old Torino coal mine dump rises above the water of Peabody's strip mine Pit 11, aka Braidwood Nuclear Plant's cooling pond. Peabody Coal Company strip mined Torino but the shovels spared the old shaft mine dump. Photos from the strip mining era show the old dump still there as deep pits are being dug to remove the coal. Now those water filled pits show the hill rising up with a nuclear plant in the same scene. Fascinating visual history! Michele Enrietta Micetich, curator Carbon Hill School Museum


The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is rated PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Comments not on the article's topic will be deleted, along with advertisements.