History of Peru Academy of St. Joseph
Peru (population: 9,835) is located in north central Illinois in LaSalle County along the
Illinois River. The community is a midpoint between the Quad Cities and the south Chicago suburbs along Interstate 80, plus
US 6 and Illinois 251 run thru Peru. It is also where the Illinois-Michigan Canal met the Illinois River as Chicagoans shipping
goods to New Orleans would send them down the canal to the river, and it would eventually meet up with the Mississippi for
the trip south at "Steamboat Basin."
The city was first settled by John Hays in 1830 and developed a reputation as a river port, but was overshadowed
by neighboring LaSalle's efforts with their own canal port. After the canal closed to barge traffic, Peru regained their
reputation. It was organized in 1838 and incorporated in 1851. The coal and zinc mining were part of the community's success,
which lead to a zinc manufacturing plant.
Some of the better-known businesses in Peru include Maze Lumber and Nail, which has made its own nails since
1848, Carus Chemical Company (the world leader in producing potassium permanganate), American Nickeloid, and was home
to the Western Clock Company (also known as Westclox) until that company closed its doors in the late 1970's after making
the Big Ben alarm clock for over 60 years.
One of Peru's residents would up with international acclaim. Maud Powell was a world-reknown violin who was
the first American to gain this rank because of her skill and virtuosity. A statue of her is prominently displayed in downtown