by Jessica Waytenick •

Address: Bishop Hill Museum, 304 S. Bishop Hill Street in Bishop Hill, Illinois
Bishop Hill is located just 60 minutes from the Quad Cities in between Cambridge and Kewanee, Illinois, two miles north of U.S. 34.
Phone: 309-927-3899
Web Site:
Media Contact: Mike Wendel, 309-927-3899 or

It has been called "the most valuable Swedish monument outside Scandinavia...", but Bishop Hill is more than that. It offers a glimpse of an America that 19th Century religious dissidents from Sweden saw as a potential utopia.

In 1846, a Swedish religious leader named Eric Janson brought his followers to a new land where they could practice religious freedom in a communal settlement they named Bishop Hill.  The immigrants sailed from Sweden to New York. Utilizing inland waterways and the Great Lakes, the colonist arrived in Chicago from where they walked the final 160 miles to Bishop Hill. On the Illinois prairie, the members lived together, worshipped together, took meals together, and shared equally in the profits. After Janson's death in 1850, the commune continued under the direction of a Board of Trustees, until, finally, the colony was dissolved and its properties divided.

Many of the original colony buildings remain today and descendants of the original colonists have initiated and overseen one of the most important preservation and restoration efforts in the United States.  It is through their contributions that the character of the pioneer settlement lives again with its unique architecture, arts, crafts, and merchants.

Take a tour of Bishop Hill's historic buildings, eat at their wonderful restaurants, do some shopping, and see full-time demonstrators with permanent shops in Heritage Association buildings. They have many annual events that take place, including:

    • Swedish Stomp and Skamperoo - 5K run/walk through Bishop Hill in April
    • Midsommar - music, dancing, good food, and the maypole are always part of the festivities in June
    • Clay and Fiber Fest – demonstrations and hands-on activities in August
    • Old Settlers Day - celebration of the founding of Bishop Hill Colony in September
    • Jordbruksdagarna - celebrating fall harvest in late September
    • Julmarknad - reminiscent of medieval Scandinavian markets featuring the wares of local artisans in November
    • Lucia Nights - a Swedish holiday tradition in December based on the legend of a Sicilian martyr, Saint Lucia wearing a crown of candles
    • Julotta - Christmas morning candlelight nondenominational service conducted in Swedish and English on December 25

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