The Creation of New Shawneetown

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Location and Plan of New [Shawnee]Town (1939)

Work Progress Aids
T he main business of Shawneetown lies at elevation 350 above sea level. The highest residential streets are only a few feet higher; the lowest, ten feet lower. Top of the levee is 367, flood crest in 1937, was 375. The new site adjoining the Township high School campus, is a gently rolling area of 320 acres, with elevation running down to about 390 on the southeast, up to 460 on the northwest. It lies astride of State Highway No. 13, three and a half miles west of the old town, twenty miles east of Harrisburg. the soil is a sandy clay, changing within a few feet of depth to purse sand - very fine, wet mobile sand - which extends to a depth of 170 feet.

Very good soil for raising water melons and cantaloupes, equally effective in raising sewer lines if left with too little backfill for even a few hours. Very bad soil for excavating basements or deep trenches. A trench twenty feet deep results in cave ins over a width of fifty feet. Sand that moves endlessly through the least crack in the sheeting, or the finest void in a joint, and plugs a 400-mesh screen na few minutes. The new site was anything but encouraging for WPA construction forces.

But a lovely site for living. To the south the impressive bulk of Gold Hill, across a wide valley. In all other directions rolling hills, tier on tier, to the horizon. Immediately to the east a valley long ago designated by the State Planning Commission as the site of a 700-acre lake for water conservation - an excellent neighbor to look forward to.

On this site has been laid out (by Mary Long and Lincoln Rogers) a simple town plan, shown on the next two pages, except that the illustration shows the present how, yard and camp instead of the industrial section south of the highway and railroad. The main business section extends along Shawnee Avenue (parallel and adjacent to Route No. 13 but separated from it by planting) for about 4,000 feet and back on the central Mall for 800 feet where it meets the civic section. The Mall is 250 feet wide, broken only by the court house located at its highest point 1,500 feet north of the highway, and already planted with elms. Posey Avenue curves away from the State Highway at one end of the site and back to it again at the other, giving direct access to the civic center. The city building and the historical museum face each other across the Mall, with a site reserved for a future post office building beside the museum. The white grade school is farther north out of business traffic and near the center of school population. The colored grade school is south of the highway, as is the colored residential section. At the present time streets, walks, sewers and water works will not serve the area north of Wilson Avenue.

The new site has been legally annexed to and is a part of the old city of Shawneetown. Families move from the east end to the west end of town and the same is true of public buildings, water works and houses. Public debts do not move, however, for Shawneetown has no bonded indebtedness, aside from POWA water revenue bonds.

Access to the new town is already provided from the South by the new detour road, which was not flooded in the recent high waters and which is shorter for customers of southern Gallatin County than the present road. Over the hills to the North a new road is planned connecting with improved county roads which serve that portion of the county.


April 1939. "Location and Plan of New Town." Work Progress Aids. Chicago: Works Progress Administration (Illinois). 9.


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