Saturday, September 17, 2022

Lost Towns of Illinois - Ledford, Illinois.

Ledford was an unincorporated community in the Harrisburg Township, Saline County, Illinois.


Ledford was located just south of Harrisburg, Illinois, on US 45. It was named after a well-known Ledford family in the area. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the peak of the coal boom in Saline County, it was a thriving mining center home to more than 1,000 people.

At one time, it had a population of 1,100 to 1,400 people. According to an early edition of the Harrisburg Daily Register, there was a time during the first 10 years of the 20th century when the population of Ledford was larger than that of Harrisburg, the county seat. In 1905, Saline County had numerous small slope mines and 15 major shaft mines. Thirteen of these larger mines were along the Big Four Railway; "The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company" [CCC&StL], (1889-1930), that traveled through Ledford.

At some point, Ledford was annexed to Harrisburg, Illinois. Almost all signs of the mining industry are gone. The mines’ air shafts and fans are gone, along with the many coal tipples[1] and mine ponds that dotted the area. The smokestacks are missing, and the air is clean. Gone are the sounds of the tipples hoisting coal, the steam whistles signaling the men, and the occasional snorts of a steam locomotive or the groaning of a streetcar motor. 

Ledford is now one of Harrisburg's ten neighborhoods; Buena Vista, Dorris Heights, Dorrisville, Garden Heights, Gaskins City, Ledford, Liberty, Old Harrisburg Village, and the Wilmoth Addition.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.



[1] A tipple is a structure used at a mine to load the extracted coal or ores for transport, typically into railroad hopper cars.

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