Thebes, Illinois, is one of those towns where one has to wonder what could have been. It was the original county seat of Alexander County before the courthouse moved to Cairo. Sitting high up on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, the courthouse is a simple, Greek Revival structure that is in good condition.
The back porch commands dramatic views of the valley below.
The front has restrained ornament, befitting the relative wealth of the county in the early Nineteeenth Century.
The small town of Thebes now sits up on the high hill top by the courthouse, but the street grid down below preserves what was most likely the original town. Its commercial core was probably down on the river too, and most likely was wiped out in 1993.
It’s interesting to imagine if Thebes had remained the county seat if it would have grown into a larger and more prosperous town. As it is, its population is quite small.
The massive railroad shows the influence of the Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland, with what I call the hanging trusses in between the larger trusses that have their own piers in the river.
The scenic outlook for the bridge was overgrown; time to trim the bushes, guys!
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Abraham Lincoln practiced law in Thebes and it is said that Dred Scott was imprisoned in the basement jail of the courthouse. lots of history on this tall bluff!