Stone Creek Community

Welcome to Makanda and the Stone Creek Community

Ask any Makanda resident what makes Makanda different and better than other surrounding towns and you’ll probably hear responses like beautiful, scenic, quiet, and unlike any other town in Southern Illinois. Makanda is known for it’s unique shops and businesses on the boardwalk – unlike anything else you’ll find. Makanda is the Gateway to Giant City State Park with the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and the scenic River to River Trail passing through the village.

Makanda got its start in 1845 as a boarding house and construction camp for the Illinois Central Railroad. Makanda was been known by several names of Markanda, Markands, and Markauda. In 1872, it received its present name of Makanda and was named after a local Indian chief. The village was incorporated on February 7, 1888.

The economy of Makanda was once very closely tied to the railroad. Makanda was a major shipping hub for Chicago for fruits and vegeta-
bles. The community once stretched up and down the valley and hillsides with a boardwalk extending to the entrance of Giant City State Park. Makanda was a thriving town with grocery stores, a bank, barbers, a dentist, three doctors, an undertaker, hotels, a jail, and various other establishments. Makanda has survived multiple floods and fires that have claimed the downtown buildings such as the L. L. Bell building and also surrounding buildings and houses. Each time the town was rebuilt.

Present day Makanda has become an affordable place for artists from Southern Illinois University and the surrounding areas to create and display their work downtown on the boardwalk. Makanda is a small, thriving community and home to the annual Spring Fest held the first weekend of each May and the Vulture Fest held the third weekend in each October. Both include food, live music, and arts.

Makanda Events

Makanda Spring Fest

Makanda Spring Fest will be held Saturday, May 4, 2013 and Sunday, May 5, 2013 in Downtown Makanda. This event ends at the scheduled time and camping, alcoholic beverages, and fires or fireworks are strictly prohibited.

Artists from the surrounding area will have on display their finest works for viewing and purchase. Live music is scheduled to take place at the Makanda pavilion and in the Rainmaker’s Garden with various music by local bands for the duration of the two-day event.

Please email makandafestevents@gmail.com for booth rental or more information.

Vulture Fest

Makanda Vulture Fest will be held Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 11 am to 7 pm and Sunday, October 20, 2013 from 11 am to 6 pm in Downtown Makanda. This event ends at the scheduled time and camping, alcoholic beverages, and fires or fireworks are strictly prohibited.

Black vultures and turkey vultures fly and swoop in the skies surrounding Makanda each fall. Local residents await their return each fall as an end to the hot summer and the beginning of cooler fall weather. This event is a celebration or the vulture’s annual migration with live music and displays by local artists for purchase.

Please email makandafestevents@gmail.com for booth rental or more information.

B.C. Ross Community Center

Located near Downtown Makanda, the B.C. Ross Community Center is available for meetings, events, reunions, and other functions. Rental is available for a fee. Contact President/Mayor Tina Shingleton at 618.457.7739.


History of Makanda

The Village of Makanda was established in 1845 and incorporated in 1888.

Former U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Paul Simon was a long time resident of Makanda. The Smiley Face Water Tower has the Simon trademark bow tie in remembrance of Simon. Upon his death in 2003, he was buried in the Rowan Cemetery in Makanda.

Makanda has a rich history which started as a camp for the Illinois Central Railroad. Below are some articles and pic-
tures detailing Makanda’s history.

Makanda, Illinois… The North Pass of Southern Illinois

The community of Makanda began with the building of a boarding house and construction camp for the Illinois Central Railroad. In the earliest documents known, the valley was known as North Pass Cobden to the south was referred to as South Pass, and Alto Pass to the west was, of course, known as West Pass. Through each ran a line of the railroad. By 1857 the name had changed to Markanda or Markands; historians are not certain. When the first official postmaster came to town in 1870 the name was Markauda. In 1872, it received its present name which allegedly was the name of the Indian chief last inhabiting the section. The village incorporated on February 7, 1888.

The prosperity of the community was tied closely to that of the railroad. Fortune offered the advantage of being only one day’s train ride from the market of Chicago. As such Makanda became a major shipping point for fruits, vegetables and flowers. Residents living today can even remember the major shipments of green onions, asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, peonies, gladiolas, cosmos, daffodils and of course, sweet potatoes, peaches, and apples. Remnants of the daffodil crops dapple the valley with beautiful yellow blooms in the summer.

At one time a large business community stretched up and down the valley and hillsides. In fact, a boardwalk used to extend from H. L. Bell’s Buildings to the entrance of Giant City State Park. Business thrived. There existed numerous general or grocery stores, a bank and a coffee shop, a shoe repair shop, 3 or 4 barbers, 3 doctors, a dentist, a druggist, an undertaker, a photographer, a grainery, a flour mill, a haberdashery (men’s clothing store), a blacksmith, several sweet potato storage houses, hotels, a plant nursery, a blacksmith, a police magistrate with a jail, and many other establishments.

Ask any current inhabitant of the North Pass and they will likely be the first to admit that some of the Makanda of today is not the same as the Makanda of old. There are, however, several people who will go on to say the village, the heritage the spirit of its people and their vision of the future will not die. They will say that Makanda, like the Phoenix, shall rise again as it has done several times. It can and will be restored, preserved, rebuilt, and instilled with a sense of purpose that will lead it to prosper in the years ahead.

Makanda – Valley of the Arts is the Gateway to Giant City

Makanda is a town ensconced in natural beauty that has served many functions in Southern Illinois, from a major shipping center to a Valley of the Arts.  It is nestled in the southeast corner of Jackson County, with hills and valleys and is just west of Giant City Park.

It was the establishment of the Illinois Central Railroad tracks in 1845 that established Makanda as a fruit shipping hub for Southern Illinois.

Allan Stuck, sculptor and jeweler, said the railroad made an impact on Makanda’s economic climate. The trains ran daily to Chicago to ensure the fruit arrived fresh. Then technology allowed fruit to travel farther, bypassing the village.

“All of the farms down in Cobden, in Anna and Jonesboro seem to get more water than all of us in the little towns,” Stuck said. “Then refrigeration came into existence and Makanda stopped being important as a shipping area,” Stuck said.

Susan Addington, employee of Visions Art Gallery described the desolate scene in Makanda after refrigeration hit the rail lines.

“Then there weren’t any jobs, so everyone left for the big cities,” Addington said. “Makanda went to being almost a ghost town.”

Because of multiple floods and a fire that claimed businesses in the valley, prices were low and the population had dwindled. The affordability led several Southern Illinois University Carbondale artists to change their residences in the early 1970’s.  Shortly thereafter, Makanda found its resurgence as an artist haven.

Dave Dardis, proprietor of Rainmaker Art Studio on the boardwalk, moved to Makanda with a few art school friends from SIUC in 1973.  He and his two partners rented out studio space for $40 a month.
“When I graduated, I did not want to move north and I thought of a way to stay down here,” Dardis said. “We knew of this town from going to school and at that time there was really nothing except for empty stores.”

Dardis and his two partners traveled across the country selling wares, sometimes for a year at a time.

“We always came back here” Dardis said. “Makanda was our home base.”

Over the next 35 years, more artists followed in Dardis’ footsteps and settled in the village.

Stuck moved from Carbondale to Makanda more than 36 years ago. He was offered a chance to by a house from a friend’s grandfather.

“The house was inexpensive enough for me to be able to buy it, but if I had to buy a house nowadays, I don’t even know if I would be able to survive.” Stuck said. “I still live in that house and they’ll bury me in it.”

This Makanda loyalist sentiment is reflected in the housing market. Even though the population is low, the available property is scarce.

“As we’ve been developing the reputation as Makanda being the Valley of the Arts more people keep coming all of the time.”

Because of the strong artist migration, Makanda is a thriving center for arts. Local art shop, Visions Art Gallery features works from more than 100 local artists.

“All the artists support each other and push each other’s works,” Addington said. “Everyone is real supportive down here.

Makanda boasts two fairs per year in celebration of their rich arts and crafts foundations, with the annual spring Makanda Fest and the fall Vulture Fest. (Makanda Fest is the first weekend in May and Vulture Fest is the 3rd weekend in October)  The festivals feature live music, arts and crafts and in the fall, hundreds of black and turkey vultures.

Postmaster Laura Depolo said the vultures take temporary residence in the trees between the post office and Stuck’s studio.

“It’s kind of creepy to come out of the post office in the afternoon to trees full of vultures,” Depolo said.  “Allan [Stuck] tells me that the vultures are waiting to get me because I don’t move fast enough.”

For Stuck, his favorite part about Makanda is being surrounded by nature.

“You’ve got all these hills, deer, turkey, bobcats, foxes coyotes,”

Stuck said. “I just like the wildness of it.”   Addington agrees and said, “We are in the valley behind Giant City State Park, which is one of the most beautiful places you could every want to see.”

“I think that between our little village down here and the state park behind us, people just swarm down here,” Addington said.

Stuck said that the swarming was because “people with aesthetic senses automatically wanted to move in here.”