History of Minonk
Minonk has a rich and long history. The settlement of Minonk occurred in 1854 soon after the Illinois Central Railroad was constructed during the years 1852 and 1853. The location of Minonk was secured by Railroad Engineer David A. Neal. The original plat 780’ wide and running for a length of 3,698 along the IC line was recorded on November 7, 1854.
Some controversy surrounds the meaning of the name “Minonk” for some it is the Ojibwa Indian Tribe word meaning “a good place”. However, it is also recorded that as David Neal had knowledge of the Mohican Indian Tribe, “Minonk” means “high point” as that is the meaning of the Mohican term. Regardless, Minonk is truly “a good place” to live.
Over the years, Minonk was home to three railroads. The main line of the Illinois Central, the Pekin branch of the Santa Fe (1879) and the Middle division of the Illinois Central (1873). The town grew up around these railroads with Illinois Central and Santa Fe crossing near the present location of the Minonk City Hall.
In addition to having an identity as a railroad town, of equal importance to the city was its lumber yards and coal mines. Throughout the years Minonk has been home to four different lumber yards and several coal mines as evidenced by the presence of our “jumbo” on the north edge of town. The north edge of town, along the original route of the Illinois Central has been dedicated to a beautiful nature and walking trail for our resident’s enjoyment.
Other notable history is the fact that thanks to Mr. Miner T. Ames, the owner of one of Minonk’s coal mines and owner of one of our finest Department stores, Minonk was the first city in the country to have incandescent lighting installed on our streets and in our homes.