Welcome to Wapella, Illinois

Wapella was founded in 1854 but Settlers were arriving in Wapella as early as 1829 due to the dense timber and rich soil. The name of the village comes from Chief Wapella of the Musquakee tribe. A group of settlers from Kentucky were the first Europeans to call Wapella home; then a substantial Irish community came to Wapella to build and work on the Illinois Central Railroad. Wapella was laid out by David Neil, vice president and a surveyor of the Illinois Central Railroad Line. The village population was approximately 500 residents by the beginning of the Civil War. The population was 651 at the 2000 census.


Education took root in Wapella around 1868 with the opening of a grade school and two years of high school. A third year was added when a new building opened in 1913 to house both the grade school and high school students, but that building proved to be too small for the growing high school enrollment.


The Wapella high school was completed in 1922. A gym was added in 1956, which was later called the “Thunderdome” because of its dome-like roof by members of the 1991-1992 boys’ basketball team. The building would be the home of Wapella High School until its closure in 1994. For more information on the Wapella Wildcats, please visit: http://www.illinoishsglorydays.com/id127.html


Wapella boasts some of the most productive agriculture land in the country, and is well known for its extensive drainage system maintaining a rich agricultural economy. Production of seed corn, field corn, and soybeans are large enterprises in Wapella and surrounding townships.