In the early 1800s, a drought forced many people in northern and central Illinois to load up their wagons and move to the southern parts of the state. The abundance of grain and fertile land led to southern Illinois being known as “Egypt” and the small town of Salem to be affectionately called the “Gateway of Little Egypt.”
The city of Salem, Illinois and its 8,000 residents cherishes its rich 19th century history through the careful preservation of the town’s historical buildings and landmarks. Most notable among them is the Bryan House, the birthplace of famed orator William Jennings Bryan. For those who happen to take a tour of the Salem Historical Drive, they can witness even more historical treasures in the area, such as the Lemen-Frakes House, the oldest home in Salem, IL.
Today, more modern attractions await visitors and residents of Salem, including a family aquatic center perfect for hours of summer fun, and the Salem Community Theater, which stages new and classic musicals and plays all year round.