Chester, home of Popeye

DSC_0122Saturday of last week must be the hottest day in Southern Illinois. I was even surprised that my cousin wanted to drive around in that heat. If she had said we would stay home I would have not complained but I am not one to decline an invitation to explore places I haven’t been before.

When she asked what fun place I had in mind I suggested to check out another state park but they already had in mind to bring me back at places they have discovered in my absence.

Popeye was a comic character created by Elzie Segar who was born on December 8, 1894, and was a native of Chester. He’s always wanted to be a cartoonist and enrolled in a mail order cartoon course before moving to Chicago. He broke into comics when in 1919 he created the “Thimble Theater” which featured the Oyl Family – Cole, Nana, Olive, Castor and Olive’s beau Ham Gravey. In 1929, Segar introduced Popeye to the strip which became so popular that he became the star character as Olive’s beau.

Popeye is a strong hardworking but quick tempered sailor but he has a heart of gold and his love of Olive Oyl and Spinach led him to many adventures.

DSC_0101Chester overlooks the Mississippi River and the tallest of Popeye’s bronze statue is situated at the foot of Chester Bridge. All over town are statues associated with Popeye – Olive Oyl, Brutus, Wimpy and the whole gang. The comic character has been totally embraced by Chester town so much so that their biggest festival is the Popeye Picnic held during the first week of September when fans travel from all over the country to participate.

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Another lesser known tourist spot in Chester is the Mary’s River Covered Bridge. It was built in 1854 and was in continuous service till 1930. The state maintains the bridge and is open to the public to see. Except for the flooring the bridge has retained its original materials.

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6 Responses to Chester, home of Popeye

  1. frizztext says:

    I like Mary’s River Covered Bridge, built in 1854!

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  2. bebs1 says:

    It looks like it is newly repainted but the wood they used are of very durable and strong quality. One can’t tell that they are a century and a half old. Like barns, I love covered bridges too for their charm.

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  3. Many years ago visited the Popeye village in Malta where the film was shot. Quite an amazing construction. The kids loved it.

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  4. bebs1 says:

    You mean Malta Island? That must be an amazing production.

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  5. lolaWi says:

    very interesting to know popeye’s origins. quite a charming coveredbridge! and amazingly preserved original construction! were there nails used or pieces were just glued together?

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  6. bebs1 says:

    They did use nails – heavy duty nuts and bolts. But the wood show now signs of deterioration except of course the floor – that one has been replaced.

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