Kell, Illinois

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Kell is a village in Marion County, Illinois, United States. The population was 231 at the 2000 census.



Kell is located at 38°29′27″N 88°54′22″W / 38.49083°N 88.90611°W / 38.49083; -88.90611 (38.490869, -88.906241).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.0 square miles (2.6 km²), all of it land.

Kell is located near the divide between the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Casey Creek, a tributary of the Big Muddy and Mississippi Rivers, runs through the middle of town. Casey Creek originates just to the north of Kell. The Ohio/Mississippi divide is just east of Kell. The water tower sits atop this prominent ridge. Panther Fork, a tributary of the Little Wabash, Wabash and Ohio Rivers has its origin just over the ridge.

Kell is also located on the divide between the Big Muddy and Kaskaskia Rivers, both major tributaries of the Mississippi. The divide between the Casey Creek/Big Muddy Basin and the Kaskaskia Basin is about 1,000 feet (300 m) west of town, over a rise that is barely noticeable.


Today Kell is located on Kell Road, a road that serves Kell, but seems to go nowhere, and comes from nowhere. There is an elevator and a rail line there, but these were built long after the settlement was founded. One might therefore ask: why did Kell ever come into existence?

The answer may lie in Kell's location at the junction of the Kaskaskia/Big Muddy/Ohio Divides. Before there were bridges, pioneer roads tended to follow the ridges, or divides, between watersheds. Along these ridges there were only small creeks that could be easily crossed, often without even getting one's feet wet. At the junction of two divides, Kell was a natural intersection for pioneer roads.

Prior to its destruction in the New Madrid Earthquakes in 1811-1812, Kaskaskia was the capital of Illinois, and the economic center of the Illinois Territory. Fort Vincennes, on the Wabash River, was also an important center. Although these centers were mainly accessible by river, there was also an overland trail between them.

The natural route from Fort Kaskaskia to Fort Vincennes would start by following the Kaskaskia/Big Muddy divide to Kell. The natural route would start east out of Fort Kaskaskia, climbing to the Kaskaskia/Big Muddy divide, somewhere near modern Sparta, Illinois. The modern Nashville Road follows the divide through Coulterville to Nashville. Short segments of the pioneer road appear along the divide between Beaucoup, Richview and Walnut Hill.

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