The town of Vienna started out of necessity. You see, the folks of Johnson County, Illinois, wanted a new county seat that was a little more central. As a result, they chose Vienna in 1818.
As soon as the new county court went into session, the first thing they did was have roads built into the town. In 1821, they also built a post office. The roads and the post office soon made Vienna the hub of the county, and small businesses started opening all over the budding town. As the number of business grew, so did the population. After Vienna became incorporated in 1837, the town started building mills, schools, newspapers, general stores, churches, a tannery, a hotel, and the first wool-carding machine in Southern Illinois.
If you’ve read many of these articles about things to see and do around a Stuckey’s, you’ll notice that nothing turned a fledgling town into a boom town quite like the railroad. Vienna was no exception. Where families worked to just to survive before the railroad, after the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad was built through Vienna around 1872, the town and its people became more prosperous as they were now able to ship goods farther across the nation. The railroad also brought more people into town and restaurants and hotels would successful businesses in Vienna as a result. What’s more, the railroad also provided the Viennese with more jobs as railroad workers and station agents.
Like all railroad boomtowns, however, Vienna almost went bust as the railroads declined in the early- to mid-20th century and automobiles became the favored source of transportation. Nevertheless, just as they had done in the beginning, Vienna built roads – US 24, IL 45, and IL 146 in the mid 1900s, and has continued to prosper as a result.
Stuckey’s of Vienna
Of course, with the roads came motels, restaurants, gas stations and Stuckey’s. Though Vienna is one of our newest stores, it still gives the same nostalgic feels as the classic Stuckey’s stores you remember from the family vacations of your childhood.
Inside, you’ll not only find your favorite road trip snacks like our iconic Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls and pecan pralines, but you’ll also find some of the classic road trip souvenirs you remember us for like Lone Ranger bow and arrow toys, falsa blankets, tiki bar decor, and the kitschiest salt and pepper shakers in Illinois.
Outside, you’ll find these things to see and do while you’re on the area:
Tunnel Hill State Trail / Various Places in Illinois
If you want to get out and stretch your legs a little before you get back on the road, then the 55-mile long Tunnel Hill State Trail is the place to do it. Okay, so a 55-mile stretch may be a bit of a walk, but this state trail is a crushed limestone bicycle trail that’s great for both hiking and gravel cycling. It runs adjacent to what used to be the railroad bed of the Cairo and Vincennes Railroad which incidentally was once run by Civil War General and facial hair icon Ambrose Burnside. The railroad would eventually become part of the Southern Railway before this section of the rail line was shut down in the late 20th century.
The southwestern end of the trail starts just west off of Illinois Route 37 and ends at the northeast end just a little north of US Route 45 near Eldorado. The trail is also available at various locations along the route including Vienna, Karnak, Cache River Center, Tunnel Hill, New Burnside, Stonefort, Carrier Mills, Harrisburg, and Eldorado. However, restaurants, lodging, and grocery stores are only available in Harrisburg, Carrier Mills, and Vienna. For more information, please visit their website here.
Garden of the Gods Wilderness / Herod, IL
One of the most popular hikes in the Shawnee National Forest, a walk through the Garden of the Gods offers tourists magnificent views of some of the most unique rock formations in the country. 320 million years ago, the rain and the wind started sculpting this sedimentary rock and created what you’ll see there today – some of the most the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations in the world. With names like Camel Rock, Anvil Rock, Devil’s Smoke Stack and other splendid rock formations, it’s no wonder the 3,318-acre Garden of the Gods is a hikers and photographers paradise.
Take the ¼-mile Observation Trail that features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. The walk features short, steep grades and steps and takes a little less than hour to complete. (Still, use caution, as there are high cliffs in the area). Along the way, interpretive signs explain the geological history of the Garden of the Gods Wilderness. Though not very tiring, the trail has many benches for stopping and resting along the way for those who need it. For more information on visiting this one-of-a-kind natural tourist attraction, you can visit the official website here.
The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail / Throughout Southern Illinois
As part of the American government’s Indian Removal Act of1830, nearly 60,000 people of the “Five Civilized Tribes” of Native Americans – the Cherokee, the Muskogee, the Seminole, the Chickasaw, and the Choctaw – were forcibly displaced from their southern homelands to new Indian Territory starting in 1830.
It was here in southern Illinois during the harsh winter months of 1858/1859 where the Cherokee faced their most brutal days and weeks along their route. Not only did landowners refuse to allow them to camp on their land, but they also wouldn’t let them cut any firewood in order to cook or stay warm. As a result many of them died here, leaving the Cherokee to call their route the Nunahi-Duna-Hilu-I, “the trail where they cried”.
Today it’s known as the “Trail of Tears” and you can walk along parts of this National Historic Trail that traverses nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. In Illinois, the 60-mile stretch of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail enters southern Illinois on the ferry at Cave-in-Rock, turns west onto Route 146 north of the city and continues westward until it crosses the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau. For maps of the trail and more information on how you can access it the visit the nativeamerica.travel website here and the USDA Forest Service website here.
A Really Super Town / Metropolis, IL
So, what makes the town of Metropolis so super? Well, it all started on June 9, 1972 when the Illinois State Legislature passed Resolution 572 and declared the town of Metropolis the official home of Superman. Today you can see all sorts of roadside attractions that pay homage to the Man of Steel in his hometown.
Start by taking a tour of the Super Museum featuring over 70,000+ items from Jim Hambrick’s lifetime collection of all things Superman. Here you’ll see, nearly Superman toy ever made as well as movie props and promotional materials from all the Superman movies and TV series including Smallville and the more recent Man of Steel. You’ll also find the super rare George Reeves Superman costume – the only one in existence.
Next, stop by nearby Superman Square for a super quick selfie with the 15’ statue of the hometown hero. Then, fly down to the corner of Market Street and West 8th Street for another selfie with the big man’s love interest – Lois Lane. Here you’ll find her in bronze as portrayed by Noel Neill in the first TV super series The Adventures of Superman.
Finally, if you’ve had enough of super-this and super-that for the day, head over to the Kryptonite located on the corner of southwest Ferry Street. Though scientists have declared it powerless and totally harmless to even Superman, we think it might just make you feel super normal again.
By the way, one more thing to check out while you’re in Metropolis is the Big John grocery store clerk located on the edge of town. (We reported all about Big John in a previous blog post here.)
Of course, this is just a small portion of all the things you can see and do in “Little Egypt”. Let us know some of your favorite places to visit in southern Illinois.
Whether you’re traveling through the Land of Lincoln or cross country to Washington State, make a Stuckey’s stop part of your travel itinerary.
At Stuckey’s you’ll find Valentine’s Day treats, road trip snacks, Stuckey’s branded clothing and all the kitschy souvenirs you remember us for.
Find one along your way here at the Stuckey’s website.
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!
Whether your next road trip is by car or by rail, it’s not really a road trip without taking Stuckey’s along. From our world famous Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls to our mouthwatering Hunkey Dorey, Stuckey’s has all the road trips snacks you’ll need to get you where you’re going.
For all of the pecany good treats and cool merch you’ll need for your next big road adventure, browse our online store now!
Stuckey’s – We’re Making Road Trips Fun Again!