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Efforts Underway To Restore “The Shaft” By Chama St. Louis

I am honored to have the opportunity to work as the social media manager for the amazing team working to restore “The Shaft.”

Authorized just months after the end of the Civil War by the county board, Peoria’s first war memorial was dedicated October 11, 1866, on the courthouse Square with huge parades and celebrations; over 30,000 attended, including “Old Abe” the Screaming War Eagle.

This fabulous old piece of Peoria and Illinois history, affectionately called “The Shaft,” was the first of its kind in Illinois and honored our local soldiers who gave their lives to preserve these United States of America through Victory in the War of the Rebellion.

The monument, though in worn condition, was carefully taken down after 96 years to avoid possible further damage during demolition of Peoria’s third courthouse which made way for the current one.

The marble eagle at the top, representing “Old Abe” broke apart upon removal. The other nine pieces were left on the courthouse lawn for a year and a half before suddenly disappearing.

Discovered 30 years later in what is now the Detweiller Marina and playground area, efforts to restore it in the 1990s went unrealized. Two pieces were taken from the disposal site, leaving just seven pieces.

Efforts are now underway to restore, re-erect and rededicate this historically significant memorial just inside the new gates and fence at Peoria’s Springdale Cemetery.

You can contribute and keep up with new developments happening to restore the shaft by visiting the website at www.restoretheshaft.org or follow us on Facebook at Springdale Cemetery – Restore the Shaft.