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   Home      Investigations 2014      Ilasco, Missouri
Ilasco, Missouri
     It sits off the highway, just south of Hannibal, quiet and alone, a shadow of what it looked like years before. There are few buildings left standing, as reminders of those that once filled the streets, and the homes that used to be here. 
     In the early 1900's, the Atlas Portland Cement Company was looking to expand to the Midwest. They chose this location and soon started building housing. Immigrants from Hungary, Poland, Romania, and other eastern and southern European countries arrived, and by 1909, the population grew to 3000 people. The cement plant provided product to the Empire State Building, the Panama Canal, as well as the Keokuk Dam.
     Ilasco was named by combining the minerals used in the cement: iron, limestone, alumina, silica, calcium, and oxygen. The town, which at one time boasted as having seven saloons, five churches,  and numerous small businesses, was converted to a company town in 1921. Since the company owned the town, houses were pushed together as close as possible, to enable as many people as possible to live here. Often the houses were no more than shacks, covered in tar paper on the outside. Those that had higher paying jobs could afford one of the larger houses in the area. And with so many people in close living conditions, trouble is bound to happen. And this small town was no different. This town even had a murder occur. Labor unrests, prohibition, the Great Depression, and people leaving for military service in World War II helped push this town into decline. The town's school closed in 1959. Many of the businesses were already gone by that time. The town was dissolved in 1963. In 1965, with the construction of Highway 79, the remaining residents of the town were given a number of days to move, and ready or not, the bulldozers came in and leveled the town. For many residents, they had not lived anywhere else since coming to America to build their dream. And now, many really had no where to go.
     We came to this location to see if any of the residents had returned here. Could the spirit of the murder victim be surrounding the town? Do the children still play on the playground equipment? Do Mothers still rock their children to sleep at night? We hoped to be able to some evidence that the displaced souls returned here, to the only home they really ever had. Unfortunately, contamination from the highway, and being outside, we were not able to provide anything conclusive. But the feeling of someone was there for most of the members present during the investigation. We plan to return again, to see if we can achieve any different results. But for now, please step back with us to this location, where people came together to start a new life in this great country of ours. Where memories are still alive of walking through the streets and going to the store to buy a soda. And where people have not been forgotten.  

Photo of the Ilasco School Gymnasium
All that remains is the
foundation and the steps
Photo of the Ilasco High
School. Construction started
in 1925 and it opened its doors
October, 1926. It closed in 1959.
The foundation tells of a time
when the school was waiting
for students to arrive, to learn
what they would need to know
to make their lives better.
The Ilasco Grade School, which closed in 1962.
The site of the grade school. The
foundation was removed with
the construction of the highway.
All that remains is this
sidewalk and the photo on the
Record of Attendance, 1905
from the Missouri Digital Heritage Collection
Unknown year of High School Students
from the Missouri Digital Heritage Collection
The jailhouse, built in 1910. Last prisoner held here was in 1935
The bridge into the town, built in 1910
Map showing where the residences were in Ilasco and the
neighboring Monkey Run. 1933
Nick, Sharon, and Teri walk around the site of the school
Monument erected to the memory of the people who migrated
to this country, to try to achieve a better life. Each flag represents
the countries where most of the workers were born.
Dedicated in 2002.
The Walk of Memories. Stones which include sayings from those
who called this place home. 
"Getting Your Hair Cut at Lee Cooper's Barbershop"
"Having Only A Nickel To Spend And Choosing Between A Pepsi, Snicker, Or Ice Cream Bar"
Ilasco, after the bulldozers had departed, leaving the town
bare and without the laughter of children.
The Grocery store, which also served as the saloon, the Union Hall, a bowling alley; and an apartment in the back was used by a physician, and the owner of the building.
"A Watchful Gathering"
By: Midnight Syndicate
From the CD: Monsters Of Legend, 2013
Used with permission of Midnight Syndicate
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