Chester, Illinois is known as “The Home of Popeye.” The small Illinois town is the hometown of E.C. Segar (Elzie Crisler Segar) who created the popular comic book character, Popeye the Sailor Man. Today the town celebrates its status as “The Home of Popeye” with events, murals, cut-out photo ops, visitor centers and gift shops, and, most prominently, the Popeye Character Trail, with new statues of these famed cartoons popping up every year.
- Who is E.C. Segar and Why is Chester, Illinois the Home of Popeye?
- Popeye's Picnic and Parade
- Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois
- Popeye Statue
- Wimpy Statue
- Olive Oyle, Swee’ Pea, and Jeep Statue
- Bluto Statue
- Castor Oyl and Whiffle Hen Statue
- Sea Hag & Bernard the Vulture Statue
- Cole Oyl Statue
- Alice the Goon Statue
- Poopdeck Pappy Statue
- Professor Watasnozzle Statue
- Rough House Statue
- Nephews Statue
- King Blozo Statue
- Nana Oyl Statue
- Popeye’s Pups Statue
- Sherlock and Segar Statue
- Toar Statue
- Harold Hamgravy Statue
- Oscar Statue
- What Else to See in Chester, Illinois, The Home of Popeye
- Chester Welcome Center
- Popeye Character Trail and The Home of Popeye FAQ
- Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois (Home of Popeye)
- Pin this guide to the Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois (Home of Popeye) to save for your next road trip!
Who is E.C. Segar and Why is Chester, Illinois the Home of Popeye?
E.C. Segar is the creator of the comic character Popeye. He was born on December 8, 1894 in Chester, Illinois.
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Growing up he showed great aptitude for illustration, and eventually started working at Hearst Syndicate. There he created a cartoon called Thimble Theatre. The comic had many characters (and many of those characters were based on residents of Chester) that came and went but, eventually, started to focus on one family in particular, the Oyl family (father Cole, mother Nana (daughter Olive, son Castor, and Olive’s lover, Ham Gravy.). On January 17, 1929 Segar introduced the character of Popeye. The Sailor stole the show (and Olive away from Ham) and later went on to become the centerpiece of the series, resulting in the title changing from Thimble Theatre to Popeye and a slew of other cartoons and movies to follow.
Unfortunately, Segar passed away on October 13, 1938. He was only 43 years old. Though he lived a relatively short life, his legacy lives on in his hometown of Chester, Illinois. The town has come to be known as “The Home of Popeye” and each year they hold a Popeye picnic where they unveil a new statue of a Popeye/Thimble Theatre character on the Popeye Character Trail.
Popeye’s Picnic and Parade
Popeye’s Picnic is an annual event in Chester, Illinois celebrating all things Popeye. Usually held in September there are rides, food stands, music, and fireworks. On the Saturday morning of the three-day event, a parade is held with local school bands, dance teams, cheerleaders, and floats. It is at this event each year that the new Popeye and Friends Character Trail statue is unveiled!
Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois
A bronze Popeye statue was erected in Chester, Illinois in 1977 to honor the comic’s creator in his hometown. Nearly 30 years later, a second statue was unveiled. This one, of the hamburger-loving Wimpy, was made from granite. That was in 2006 and every year since a new Thimble Theatre/Popeye statue has emerged in Chester. Generally unveiled during the town’s annual Popeye picnic, these monuments serve to honor the creator and his characters, both big and small. Here are all the statues you can find on the Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois. If you’re visiting, look for the QR codes at each of the Popeye Character Trail statues to learn more about them all!
Location: Segar Memorial Park
The one and only original. Erected in 1977, this bronze statue of Popeye, the titular Sailor Man, was placed in honor of our Elzie C. Segar, the creator of Popeye.
Location: Chester Gazebo Square
Wimpy is a smart but lazy and cheap man who holds an inescapable hunger for hamburgers but is oft unwilling to pay for them. He is perhaps best known for saying, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
Olive Oyle, Swee’ Pea, and Jeep Statue
Location: Randolph County Courthouse
Olive Oyl appeared in the Thimble Theatre comics long before Popeye made his debut. But once together, they eventually became an item. She is found here with Swee’ Pea, the child she cares for and the magical animal, Eugene the Jeep.
Location: Buena Vista Bank
Bluto (AKA Brutus) is Popeye’s arch nemesis who is always trying to steal away Olive Oyl in a continuous love triangle.
Castor Oyl and Whiffle Hen Statue
Location: Chester Memorial Hospital
Castor is Cole Oyl’s adventurous older brother. He has a mysterious pet bird, Bernice the Whiffle Hen.
Sea Hag & Bernard the Vulture Statue
Location: Wal-Mart and McDonalds
Sea Hag is an ancient witch who serves as a primary antagonist for the series. Her pet vulture Bernard is her familiar spirit.
Cole Oyl Statue
Location: Chester Public Library
Cole Oyl is father to Olive Oyl and Castor Oyl. His familiar catchphrase is “You owe me an apology.”
Alice the Goon Statue
Location: Chester Center
Alice the Goon is the leader of a tribe of strange humanoid Goons that live on Goon Island.
Poopdeck Pappy Statue
Location: Cohen Recreational Complex
Poopdeck Pappy is Popeye’s tough and estranged father who disappeared shortly after his son’s birth. Through different renditions of the cartoon they have reunited multiple times.
Professor Watasnozzle Statue
Location: Chester High School
This professor is known for his unorthodox inventions and experiments.
Rough House Statue
Location: Reid’s Harvest House Restaurant
Rough House is the hard-working chef who owns and operates the Rough House Cafe, a diner that primarily serves hamburgers.
Location: Chester Community Grade School
Popeye’s quadruplet nephews appear in this statue: Pipeye, Peepeye, Poopeye and Pupeye.
King Blozo Statue
Location: City Hall
King Blozo rules over a fictional kingdom most often referred to as Spinachovia.
Nana Oyl Statue
Location: Manor at Craig Farms
Nana Oyl is wife to Cole Oyl’s and mother of Olive Oyl and Castor Oyl.
Popeye’s Pups Statue
Location: Chester Fire Department
This statue commemorates the three perennial pups: Fido (1916), Snits (1920), and Chester (created in the post-Segar universe, 1996).
Sherlock and Segar Statue
Location: Baskerville Hall
Elzie Segar was inspired by Sherlock Holmes to introduce hundreds of detectives into Thimble Theatre, and was working on a Sherlockian detective release when he passed away. This statue of Popeye creator Segar is decked out like Sherlock Holmes in honor of his unfinished work.
Location: St. Nicholas Landmark
Tour is a massive brute of a man who has lived for thousands of years thanks to once drinking from the “Pool of Never Die.”
Harold Hamgravy Statue
Location: Fisher, Kerkhover, Coffey, & Gremmels Law Offices
Before Popeye came along, Harold Hamgravy (Ham Gravy) was the childhood sweetheart and original fiancée of Olive Oyl.
Location: Cole Memorial Park
Oscar is Popeye’s none-too-bright and comedic friend that holds a number of odd jobs and accompanies the protaganist on adventures.
What Else to See in Chester, Illinois, The Home of Popeye
While the Popeye Character Trail is the most prominent of thins to do in Chester, Illinois, there are even more Popeye-centric things to see in town! Be sure to save room in your road trip itinerary for all of these stops.
Chester Welcome Center
10 Bridge Bypass Rd, Chester, IL 62233
Located next to the Chester Bridge, the Mississippi River, and the bronze Popeye statue, the Chester Welcome Center has displays, brochures, bathrooms, and a scenic deck.
Spinach Can Collectibles
1001 State St, Chester, IL 62233
Visit the only Popeye shop and museum in the world. View historic Popeye memorabilia and purchase a souvenir.
Popeye Character Trail and The Home of Popeye FAQ
The Popeye Trail and all the Popeye character statues are found in Chester, Illinois because it is the birthplace of E.C. Segar (Elzie Crisler Segar) who created Popeye.
The statue of Popeye can be found at Segar Memorial Park (10 Bridge Bypass Rd) in Chester, Illinois. The bronze statue is right next door to the Mississippi River and the Chester Welcome Center.
Currently there are 19 Popeye statues in Chester, Illinois. There is one bronze Popeye statue of the title character, 17 granite statues of other supporting characters, and one statue of E.C. Segar, the creator of Popeye.
Popeye Character Trail in Chester, Illinois (Home of Popeye)
Address: Chester, Illinois
Cost: All Roadside Attractions are Free to See
Hours: All Popeye Statues are always visible
Need a map of the Popeye and Friends Trail? Click here for the Chester website.