Beyond Qtown: Griggsville, Illinois

By Travis on June 7, 2009


Griggsville is just under a hours drive (directions) from Quincy. Griggsville has all the small town charm you’d expect with a unique calling card of sorts. The tourism industry would seem to be somewhat miniscule in a small town like Griggsville, however they have established quite a reputation for being “The purple martin capital of the nation”, if you don’t believe me,  a quick stroll around town will soon make a believer out of you. The evolution of this town into a purple martin mecca goes something likes this:

“Griggsville is located between the Mississippi River and the Illinois River and the hot muggy summers are the perfect habitat for mosquitoes. Amid growing concern over the use of pesticides to control mosquitoes, the town came up with an alternate abatement method. J.L. Wade, a Griggsville resident and owner of a local antenna manufacturing factory realized that Griggsville was right in the migration path of the Purple Martin, the largest bird in the swallow family, supposedly able to eat 2,000 mosquitoes in a single day.[3] J.L. Wade quickly realized that to get the purple martins to stay, he simply needed to give them a reason to stay, so he converted his antenna factory into a bird house building factory. The mosquito population dwindled, which lead the town to adopt the nickname “The Purple Martin Capital of the Nation”, as well as labeling the Purple Martin “America’s Most Wanted Bird.” Additionally, Wade’s Purple Martin business, formerly Trio Manufacturing, published a newsletter called The Nature Society News. The purple martin factory has been recently been sold to a Chicago businessman. Griggsville has installed over 5,000 birdhouses along the city streets, including a 562-apartment high rise, reaching a height of 70 ft.”  – Wikipedia

I have to admit, there are alot of bugs in that town, just as I was passing through and walking around the touristy area I did notice an alarming number of bugs. It appears that the birds have their work cut out for them.  I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the little out of the way touristy spots. The local landmarks that to some may seem like a waste of time, to me however, it is places like Griggsville Illinois that have created a fun and in this case, useful means of problem solving due to the influx of bugs, and have established a name for themselves., an identity. The fun shops and diners all utilize the Purple Martin theme. There are fun caffes and diners lining both sides of the “main drag” Griggsville may not provide enough to see for a full day trip, but if you’re looking for a little family friendly fun just down the highway I think you’ll get a kick out of the nations purple martin hotspot.


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