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My District: Is Home to the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle

The quirky landmark in Collinsville, Ill., sparked a namesake festival and annually draws visitors to the area’s parks, bike trails and other attractions.

By Eric Peterson  |  March 4, 2024
Katie Stuart Illinois
Erica Harriss Illinois

More than 10 stories tall, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle is Collinsville, Ill.’s answer to the Eiffel Tower.

It doesn’t contain a zesty red condiment; it’s actually a water tower built in 1949 for the G.S. Suppiger Co., the makers of Brooks Rich & Tangy Catsup. After several mergers and acquisitions, later owners of the Brooks brand sold the old bottling plant, putting the tower’s survival in jeopardy.

But the community, located about 15 miles east of St. Louis near the Missouri border, rallied around the giant container. A nonprofit raised $80,000 to restore the bottle in 1995, and after an annual July festival commenced a few years later, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

NCSL asked Illinois Sen. Erica Harriss (R) and Rep. Katie Stuart (D), who respectively represent Collinsville in the 56th Senate and 112th House districts, about this superlative piece of mimetic architecture.

What does the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle mean to your district?

Harriss: It’s a historic marker and quirky roadside attraction for those traveling on Route 159, south of downtown Collinsville. It serves as a staple and talking point for those passing by and garners national attention from tourists every day.

Stuart: I think it’s one of those unique, quirky roadside things that, when you talk about where you’re from and you get to point out to somebody, “I live in the home of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle,” it definitely sparks a little conversation.

There was a big community push to save the catsup bottle. It got repainted and refurbished. You can still buy some of the T-shirts and other things to keep it maintained, keep it painted.

World's Largest Catsup BottleWhat stands out to you about it?

Harriss: The size! Standing at 170 feet tall, you can’t miss this landmark no matter which way you are traveling. The bright red bottle signifies the history associated with our area from the time the catsup bottle was built to what it is today.

Stuart: You see it as you come over this rise in the road, a little bit of a hill, and this massive catsup bottle comes at you. It’s just really unique, given that it’s a water tower, and it’s just a different thing to see. I wish there were easier places for people to take great photographs, because it could be a huge Instagram draw for people, but because it is so large, it is kind of hard to get it in scale.

Why is it important to the community today?

Harriss: It’s tremendously important to our area. As a part of the National Register of Historic Places, thousands of people visit our area to see the famous catsup bottle. Just recently, the bottle served as a historic landmark featured in the annual Rose Bowl Parade. There is also the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle Festival held in the summer that brings enthusiasts from all over the country to our community, which is great for our local economy!

Stuart: Every town wants to have its own unique sensibility, and Collinsville is very proud of also being the horseradish capital of the world, and it just kind of goes along those same lines of what makes Collinsville stand out.

What else is great about your district? What makes the area special?

Harriss: With theaters, parks, museums, bike trails and multiple downtown historic centers, the 56th has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in the outdoors, we have wonderful parks and trails for recreation, we have a great manufacturing sector and tremendous opportunity for growth.

We are blessed to have great options for higher education through Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Lewis and Clark Community College and Southwestern Illinois College. There is truly something for everyone in the 56th District!

Stuart: We have a world-class university in Edwardsville, which is the town next to Collinsville and the town where I live. We have great Main Streets and downtowns that have been revitalized in the last 10 years with locally owned restaurants and coffee shops and boutiques, so you can really spend an afternoon strolling around Granite City, Edwardsville and Collinsville.

Another great draw, Madison County-wide, is that we have this tremendous bike trail system that spans more than 130 miles and goes through really beautiful territory. There are lots of loops and people can really explore the area. They get heavily traveled; I run on them and there’s always lots of people on the bike trail.

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelancer.

“My District” gives NCSL members a chance to talk about life in the places they represent, from high-profile events and destinations to the fun facts only the locals know. The responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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