Centralia, Illinois: Wikis


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Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Marion, Clinton, Washington, Jefferson
Townships Centralia, Brookside, Grand Prairie,
Coordinates 38°31′31″N 89°7′57″W / 38.52528°N 89.1325°W / 38.52528; -89.1325
Area 7.6 sq mi (20 km2)
 - land 7.6 sq mi (20 km2)
Population 14,136 (2000)
Density 1,884.4 /sq mi (728 /km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 62801
Area code 618
Location of Centralia within Illinois
Location of Centralia within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Centralia, Illinois
Website: http://www.city.centralia.il.us/

Centralia is a city located in Marion, Washington, Clinton, and Jefferson Counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. The population was 14,136 at the 2000 census. The town was founded because it was the point where the two original branches of the Illinois Central Railroad, built in 1856, converged. The town is named for the railroad. The current mayor is Rebecca Ault.

Because of its unique location within multiple counties, portions of Centralia are associated with different Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs). The Centralia Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Marion County. The Clinton County portion of the city is considered part of the St. Louis, MO–IL Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Jefferson County portion lies within the Mt. Vernon Micropolitan Statistical Area. The portion of Centralia in Washington County is not considered part of any metropolitan or micropolitan area.



Over the course of its 150-year history, Centralia has weathered more than its share of setbacks. The Illinois Central railroad traffic that put the town on the map in 1851 has long since disappeared. Coal mining virtually stopped overnight following a 1947 mine disaster that killed 111 miners. The oil boom, which at one time made the surrounding countryside resemble a derrick factory showroom, dried up in the 1950s.


Centralia is located at 38°31′31″N 89°7′57″W / 38.52528°N 89.1325°W / 38.52528; -89.1325 (38.525257, -89.132548).[1] This is approximately 60 miles (100 km) east of St. Louis, Missouri. Centralia is on the border of south-west Marion County with portions of the city located in Clinton, Washington and Jefferson counties, and is 10 miles (16 km) north of exit 61 of I-64 and 10 miles (16 km) west of exit 109 of I-57. Centralia is one of three Illinois cities with portions in four counties, the others being Barrington Hills & Aurora.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.6 square miles (19.8 km²), of which, 7.5 square miles (19.4 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.83%) is water.


As of the census[2] of 2000, there were 14,136 people, 5,784 households, and 3,568 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,884.4 people per square mile (727.7/km²). There were 6,276 housing units at an average density of 836.6/sq mi (323.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.50% White, 10.34% African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 1.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.20% of the population.

There were 5,784 households out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.3% were non-families. 34.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,905, and the median income for a family was $39,123. Males had a median income of $30,511 versus $21,967 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,174. About 11.2% of families and 14.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.1% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.

Mine incident

On March 25, 1947, the Centralia No. 5 coal mine explosion near the town killed 111 people. The Mine Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor reported the explosion was caused when an underburdened shot or blown-out shot ignited coal dust. At the time of the explosion, 142 men were in the mine; 65 were killed by burns and other injuries and 45 were killed by afterdamp. Eight men were rescued, but one died from the effects of afterdamp.

The story of the 1947 disaster is memorialized in folksinger Woody Guthrie's song entitled "The Dying Miner." Guthrie's recording of the song can be heard on the Smithsonian-Folkways CD recording Struggle (Smithsonian Folkways, 1990). Songwriter and historian Bucky Halker recorded a very different arrangement of "Dying Miner" on his CD collection of Illinois labor songs Welcome to Labor Land (Revolting Records, 2002). In addition, Bucky Halker also recorded "New Made Graves of Centralia", a song he located on an obscure recording without the name of the author or recording artist. Halker's recording appears on his CD Don't Want Your Millions (Revolting Records, 2000).

Local features

Centralia's Foundation Park is a scenic 235-acre (0.95 km2) park that features hiking trails, an exercise trail, an ice skating pond and two fishing ponds both stocked with bass, bluegill and catfish. The park also sports a restored prairie, a Chapel in the Woods, the Hall Shelter, the Sentinel Shelter, The Bowl (an outdoor amphitheatre), Moose Oven and the Miner's Memorial.

Foundation Park is the site of the annual Balloon Fest, a hot air balloon festival. Recent events have had about forty balloons and drew 40000 visitors.

In addition to Foundation Park, the Centralia Foundation also supports the Centralia Carillon, ranked as eighth-largest in the world with 65 bells, the greatest of which weights 5-1/2 tons.

People that visit Centralia are sure to stop at the famous Centralia House Restaurant. For over 150 years, Centralia House has been a staple in Centralia.

Centralia is home to Kaskaskia College and Centralia High School.Home of the high school with the most wins in basketball in the nation.

Over the past half century, Centralia has experienced many economic tragedies including many factories/industries either shutting down, or moving out of town/state/country.

Centralia is the home of the Centralia Cultural Society. This community theatre has been providing the tri-county area with performances for over 50 years.

One of only two remaining 2500 class steam locomotives from the Illinois Central Railroad is preserved on static display at Centralia's Fairview Park. The locomotive is maintained by the Age of Steam Memorial non-profit organization.

The city of Centralia also provides a historical downtown area dating back to the 1800s of shops, restaurants and entertainment for the whole family. Tourists can enjoy the bell tower, called the Carillon, located downtown. Visitors can come to the Carillon to listen to the musical concerts or a stroll through the beautiful park surrounding the structure.

Rail Transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Centralia. Amtrak Train 59, the southbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 12:25am daily with service to Carbondale, Fulton, Newbern-Dyersburg, Memphis, Greenwood, Yazoo City, Jackson, Hazlehurst, Brookhaven, McComb, Hammond, and New Orleans. Amtrak Train 58, the northbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Centralia at 4:10am daily with service to Effingham, Mattoon, Champaign-Urbana, Kankakee, Homewood, and Chicago. Centralia is also served by Amtrak Train 390/391, the Saluki, daily in the morning, and Amtrak Train 392/393, the Illini, daily in the afternoon/evening. Both the Saluki and the Illini operate between Chicago and Carbondale.

Kaskaskia Community College



Kaskaskia College (KC) was the first community college in Illinois established under the Junior College Act of 1965. It has a rich tradition of providing a comprehensive, high quality, cost-effective education. It's accreditation is under The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Transfer students at Kaskaskia College participates in the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI), a statewide agreement that allows transfer of completed Illinois General Education Transfer Core Curriculum between participating institutions.

The career and occupational programs are styled in accordance with the wants and needs of students, the community, business and industry. The College is committed to working together with employers to assess technological, educational, and training needs. Kaskaskia College’s partnerships with the region’s manufacturers assure a valuable, educated workforce. The College serves as the primary resource for skills training programs, technical, and computer education for business and manufacturing in the district.


The women's sports' teams are called the "Blue Angels" and the men's teams are called the "Blue Devils. The team colors are royal blue and white.

Notable residents

See also

External links & References


  1. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 


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