Elwood began as a small farming community. The year 1859 marked the building of the Baptist Church, now the Masonic Lodge #919, which still stands and is located on Chicago Street. In 1895, the Presbyterian Church was built on Mississippi Avenue and Chicago Street. It was later named the Elwood Community Church.
1940 - Effect of World War II
The year 1940 changed everything - the United States engaged in World War II. America focused its efforts to build an industrial munitions complex at home to supply its armed forces fighting in distant lands. An integral component of that effort happened in 1940 at a federally-owned site 40 miles southwest of Chicago . Occupying 23,500 acres, the weapons of warfare were manufactured and assembled at the facility known as the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant. The US army acquired 14,858 acres of land from local farmers at a price of $3,291,172. At the peak of production, the facility produced up to 57% of the Army’s TNT and employed over 12,000 people.
Joliet Arsenal Development Authority
More recently, the Joliet Arsenal Development Authority played a key role in the redevelopment of the old Arsenal properties. The work by JADA and local officials and residents resulted in the development of Elwood International Port.
Over the years, Elwood continued to grow, but today still maintains its small town charm.
Additional Historical Information
For more historical and cultural information, visit the Parks & Recreation resource on village history and culture including details on local/area historical societies.