Chester IL is a Mississippi River cruise port and town in Illinois USA (Randolph County) with population around 9,000. The town is located approx 100 km (60 ml) south of St Louis Missouri. Chester Bridge connects to Perry County (southeastern Missouri).
The settlement was founded in 1829 around a private watermill owned by the Smith family and named after Chester (Cheshire England) - wife's home town. Town's economy was based on flour milling, shoes production, a knitting mill. Chester IL is best-known for being the home of Popeye the Sailor Man. Very popular among tourists is the Popeye Picnic and parade - an annual festival (held the long weekend following Labor Day / September). The festival features themed events, live entertainment and fun activities, including rides, music, fireworks, outdoor food stands, fun contests, clowns, live performances by school bands, dance teams, cheerleaders.
Other best-known tourist attractions include Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site (overlooking Mississippi River), Kaskaskia Island (the site of The Liberty Bell of the West / older than Philadelphia's Liberty Bell), Randolph County State Recreation Area (1100-acres state park with a lake, popular for fishing, hiking, horseback riding), Turkey Bluffs State Fish and Wildlife Area (2264-acres state park), Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge (bird watching). City's top-employers are Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation (food company), Menard Correctional Center (prison fka Southern Illinois Penitentiary), Chester Mental Health Center (state's only max security forensic mental health facility).
As cruise port, Chester IL is included in the schedules of USA's largest river cruise companies - ACL (American Cruise Lines) and AQSB (American Queen Steamboat Company). The port is regularly visited by the riverboats American Queen, American Duchess, American Harmony, America, Queen of the Mississippi.