When it comes to campgrounds, picnic areas and wooded trails, what’s in a name?
For nearly a century, Carmi’s residents, as well as visitors to our southern Illinois campground have come to the woods just outside of town for fun and recreation. For most of that time it was called Burrell Woods, though most people couldn’t tell you why. At some point it was officially renamed Burrell Park, which created a bit of confusion with the coming of the internet.
When Carmi turned 200 years young recently, the city council decided to fix that. The park was a gift from a Carmi resident nearly a century ago. The City of Carmi added to that gift with the purchase of an additional 66 acres of woods, meadows and creeks, adjoining the original park.
This gives the park a place to grow, with many ideas already being floated, such as a performance area, dog park and of course, walking trails.
Orlando Burrell was 8 years old when his family arrived in Carmi, Illinois. Within two years both his parents were dead. Even at the age of 10 he worked hard. He chopped wood for 25 cents a cord in order to pay for his schooling. When he was older he farmed and learned the carpenter’s trade.
In 1859 he, along with 12 other wagons, headed west to make their fortune in gold. He remained in California for 1 year then returned to Carmi. Over the years he had many responsible and respectable jobs.He was an officer in the Civil War, a Judge in the county, Mayor of Carmi, Sheriff for the county and served as U.S. Representative in the 54th Congress for one term. Burrell represented Carmi and White County well in all of these jobs.
In 1921 at the age of 94 Orlando Burrell died. In his will, Burrell bequeathed 40 acres of ground to the “town” “for use as a park”. Along with the 40 acres he deposited $9000 in the White County Bank (at 2% interest) to provide a fund for the park’s maintenance.
We believe that Orlando Burrell would be very proud of the progress and beauty this park has taken over the years. We hope you will visit in person someday but for now enjoy our photo tour of “Burrell’s Woods” as it is know to many Carmians.