Photo of Main Street, circa 1950s, contributed by Tony Eckert



Progress has run rough-shod over many of the towns and cities in America's heartland. But some towns, for one reason or another, have managed to avoid the blessings of the wrecker's ball, concrete pastures, suburban style malls, the corporate chain invasion, out of character modern buildings, and all of those things some of us would call "urban blight". Golconda is one of the lucky survivors.
     Golconda developed from a frontier ferry crossing into an important and bustling river town which was a port-o'-call for keelboats, flatboats, packet boats, and the grand river steamers of the nineteenth century. It remained an important river port well into the twentieth century, and there still seemed to be hope of progress when the railroad finally came. But the railroad didn't stay. The river stayed, and periodically has inundated
the town. When the river is being kind, however, it provides Golconda with a wonderful recreational asset.
    Though no longer the bustling and busy town it once was, Golconda has retained a certain timeless charm which, along with the timeless river and the beautifully forested hills that surround it, is certainly one of its most cherished assets.

Historical Note

Golconda was the first settlement in what is now Pope County, Illinois. "(T)he first permanent settlement was in 1798 at the site of present-day Golconda. The town began with a primitive ferry in 1798, operated by Major James Lusk, a revolutionary war veteran, and his wife Sarah McElwaine Lusk...

"Lusk... completed a two-story frame house in 1798, from keel-boat lumber, at the intersection of the river and (Lusk) creek. He operated the ferry from this "Ferry House," sometimes called the "Tavern House." The Lusks thus became the first settlers between Kentucky and Kaskaskia in the Illinois area...

"...In 1838-1939 some 13,000 Cherokees crossed on their "Trail of Tears" To Oklahoma.

"The town and county were both organized in 1816... The town was named Sarahsville in honor of Sarah Lusk. Just how the town evolved from Sarahsville to Golconda contains a small amount of mystery. Court records show the platting of Sarahsville on August 28, 1816. On January 24, 1817, the name "Corinth" was ordered. That same day another entry says: "Order that the town now called Sarahsville, the present seat of justice for Pope County, hereafter be called Golconda, at the request of the proprietors" -- County Records Book A. There is no explanation for the shuffling of names. The traditional meaning of the word "Golconda" is "land of wealth," and, to us, it is appropriate...

"The Golden Age of Pope county occurred from 1870-1930... Businesses flourished when Golconda became the commercial center of the area. The era of the railroad brought freight and passenger service to rural communities isolated from river transportation by poor roads. River transportation continued to serve the area until after the 1937 flood when construction of the flood wall cut off access to the river. The affluence within the county between 1870 and 1900 was reflected in the substantial houses built at that time.

Our local organizations such as  Many of the individuals involved in these organizations as well as others strive to maintain and gather information about the rich history of Pope County and the people who have lived here.

We all believe that Pope County, Illinois is the place to be. I think that you could ask anyone raised here and they would say that it is "HOME."

Information supplied by Mildred B. McCormick & Pope County Historical Book, Volume 1  April 1999

Main Street Golconda, Pope County Historical Society, Golconda-Pope County Chamber of Commerce, and Golconda Rotary are joined by other civic groups and local businesses in working to welcome our many visitors. 

What we present below is a gallery of old photographs of Golconda, most of which were taken from old postcards dating from the pre-automotive era until relatively recent times. The great floods of 1913 and 1937 are well represented, though sometimes, where the photos are not labeled, it's difficult to tell which flood is represented. The color aerial view of Golconda was taken by the late renowned Southern Illinois photographer Ned Trovillion, and is presented here courtesy of Main Street Golconda, Inc. You'll find more information on Golconda and Pope County on following web sites:

Pope County Web Site -
Main Street Golconda Inc.

Golconda Marina (Official site)
Miscellaneous Genealogy and History LINKS, Including Golconda and Pope County

Our thanks go to Mrs. Virginia Walker, of Golconda, who originally generously made this page possible. The post cards are from her personal collection, and were scanned and sent to the webmaster by her son, Billy Dunstan, also of Golconda.

And many thanks to Mr. Tony Eckert, owner of Golconda's famous and historic Riverview Mansion Hotel. Mr. Echert contacted us in October of 2013 and invited us to partake of many of his own historic photo collection. More can be seen on the Mansion's Facebook page. The border color of images contributed by Mrs. Walker and others (as credited) are red and those provided by Mr. Eckert are gold.

More recently (Oct. 2014), Ben Walker has contributed images of old photos by an unknown photographer. Mr. Walker is presently researching their origin and the identity of the photographer. We hope you will enjoy them.

NOTE: If copyright is claimed by any person on any of these photos, please contact the so the material may be properly credited or removed.




Circa 1909, electricity had come to town -- but no automobiles are in evidence.
Click on image for larger view. Photos contributed by Ben Walker.

Click on cropped images for a closer view

W.T. Johnson's Livery and Feed Stable. Click for larger view. Image contributed by Ben Walker.


Change has been kinder to Golconda than to more "progressive" cities.


Photo contributed by owner, Bruce Hannover
The Sloan House was built by Judge William P. Sloan in 1882. Judge Sloan was a partner in the bank in Golconda, as well as a partner in a bank in McLeansboro.
The beautifully maintained Sloan House overlooks Golconda from the hill to the south.




Photo by Ned Trovillion -- Courtesy of Main Street Golconda, Inc.

Above & right, Main Street in the 1920s

Main Street in the 1920s

The Riverview Hotel in the 1920s

Main Street in the 1930s

Main Street in the 1940s

Main Street in the 1950s

Sloan House from down in town.

Baptism in the Ohio near Golconda

Riverview Mansion Hotel (Riverside) in the 2000s

The Riverview (Mansion) Hotel

Overview From Sloan House -- Mansion right of center 

Alma Karne standing in front of the Riverview

Believed to be Rex and Alma Karne who owned the
Riverview Hotel in the 1940s.

Golconda Waterfront during 1913 flood

Levy road to Park and Lock & Dam 51

Two simlar views of the Rauchfuss House
which over-looked the Ohio River and
Golconda from Rauchfuss Hill north of town

The Rauchfuss House (sometimes called "Castle") no
longer exists. The property is now incorporated intoa park.

The "General Wood"

Left, the Court House, and above, Main Street.
Both believed to be the flood of 1937.

Flood of 1913 (probably)

An early post card of uncertain date, Riverview Mansion Hotel at lower right
Probably taken from the Sloan House. Contributed by Tony Eckert


Notice to Photographers and Possible Copyright Holders

The webmaster claims no copyright to any material on this page. The original photographers hold the rights to their work unless assigned to others or released to the public domain. It is assumed (but certainly not known), that most of these photos have reverted to the public domain. Any copyright claimants should contact the webmaster if they would like credit to be given, or if they would prefer that their work be removed from this page. Such requests will be promptly honored. Please send email to:

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