Mattoon, Illinois

Mattoon, Illinois
Country United States
State Illinois
County Coles
Townships Mattoon, Lafayette, Paradise
Elevation 732 ft (223 m)
Coordinates 39°28′44″N 88°22′23″W / 39.47889°N 88.37306°W / 39.47889; -88.37306
Area 9.3 sq mi (24 km2)
 - land 9.3 sq mi (24 km2)
Population 18,555 (2010)
Density 1,964.8 / sq mi (759 / km2)
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 61938
Area code 217
Location of Mattoon within Illinois
Location of Mattoon within Illinois
Wikimedia Commons: Mattoon, Illinois

Mattoon is a city in Coles County, Illinois, United States. The population was 18,555 as of the 2010 census. It is a principal city of the Charleston–Mattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Mattoon was the site of the "Mad Gasser" attacks of the 1940s.



Early settlers from the South lived in forested areas along the headwaters of the Little Wabash River to the southwest of the present town. They distrusted the prairie, which they saw as the source of fevers.

The history of Mattoon is tied to that of local railroads. In 1853, railroad surveyors from the Illinois Central Railroad and Terre Haute and Alton Railroad found their railroads would cross in the Mattoon area, and a burst of investment and land speculation began. The two railroads raced to the meeting point, on the understanding that the first to arrive would not have to pay to maintain the crossing. Local settlers marked out the plots for sale with pegs, and the village was originally known as "Pegtown."

In 1861, the town was officially named after William B. Mattoon, the chief construction engineer working for the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad. The reason for this honor is unclear; some say he won the naming rights because his rail crew arrived first. Others say he beat other claimants in a card game, or that Pegtown residents hoped the wealthy Mattoon would invest in the town if they named it after him. With its combination of excellent transportation and remarkably fertile prairie soils, Mattoon expanded rapidly. By the dawn of the 20th century, Mattoon's growing population and rail access brought manufacturing and industry.

In 1856, The first two babies were born in Mattoon, Charles Cartmell in July and Mollie Puff in September.

On the night before the Lincoln-Douglas debate of September 18, 1858, at the Coles County Fairgrounds, both Lincoln and Douglas had slept in nearby Mattoon, [2],[3]. On June 17, 1861, General Ulysses S. Grant took his first post of the American Civil War when he assumed command of the 21st Illinois Infantry in Mattoon.

In 1865, Amish settlers began a community to the north near Arthur, Illinois. Amish farmstands and horse-drawn buggies are not uncommon sights in the northern part of Mattoon today.

In the 1890s, Mattoon led the successful campaign to have a proposed college in eastern Illinois located in Coles County. The citizens were chagrined when neighboring Charleston was chosen as the home of the future Eastern Illinois University instead.

On May 26, 1917, the town was devastated by a tornado which killed 101 people.

In 1940, the discovery of petroleum reserves in the countryside immediately surrounding Mattoon led to a small "oil boom" in the 1940s and 1950s, bringing with it economic benefits and increased civic pride. Oil extraction continues to be an important economic activity. In 1966, Lake Land College was built just south of the city. The community college offers degrees for immediate employment and pre-university education.

Mattoon was home to several minor-league teams in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The last stadium, with a capacity of approximately 2,000 seats, was torn down in the late 1950s, but the city maintains a strong Baseball tradition. Mattoon still has a thriving junior league and hosted many junior league regionals and World Series.

Recent history and current issues

Traditionally a bastion of manufacturing, Mattoon has been challenged by the loss of several major plants in the last two decades. On December 18, 2007, Mattoon was chosen to be the site of the U.S. Department of Energy's FutureGen power plant, which is a clean-coal gasification project that will build a near zero-emissions coal-fueled power plant with the intention of producing hydrogen and electricity while using carbon capture and storage.[1]

In 2009, the America’s Power Factuality Tour stopped at Mattoon, Ill., to report on its role in generating electricity in the United States.[2]

After the arrival of the Lender's Bagels factory in 1986, Mattoon became the self-declared "Bagel Capital of the World." The town is also home to the world's largest bagel and an annual summer event called "Lenders Bagelfest."


Mattoon is served by Mattoon Community Unit School District 2, one of three school districts located in the county of Coles. The district itself is composed of four schools and the "Neil Armstrong Program at Hawthorne School," of which serves to educate the Developmentally Disabled Children

Lake Land College is a community college in Mattoon.


Transportation is still a vital part of local economic life. Much of the major commercial development in recent years has occurred along Interstate 57, which crosses the eastern edge of Mattoon.

Rail transportation

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Mattoon. Amtrak Train 59, the southbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Mattoon at 11:13pm daily with service to Effingham, Centralia, 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 Mattoon at 5:23am daily with service to Champaign-Urbana, Kankakee, Homewood, and Chicago. Mattoon 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.

The Illinois Central Station in the heart of downtown Mattoon has recently been totally renovated. It is handicap accessible with an elevator to the lower level train platform. 2.5 million dollars were obtained for it via the 2005 Transportation Bill. Today the station is unmanned; passengers boarding at the Mattoon station must order their tickets by telephone or online.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.3 square miles (24 km2), all of it land. Nearby rivers have been dammed to form Lake Paradise and Lake Mattoon south of the city.

The terminal moraine of the Wisconsin Glacier is located just to the south of Mattoon. Heading south on I-57 there is an impressive vista from the top of the moraine at the south Mattoon exit. While the moraine is of Wisconsinan age (about 10,000 years before present), the land to the south is of Illinoian age (about 100,000 years before present). The small oil field to the south of the moraine is also attributed to glacial activity: The weight of the glacier to the north created cracks in the underlying bedrock. Oil collected adjacent to these cracks.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 18,291 people, 8,105 households, and 4,676 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,964.8 people per square mile (758.6/km²). There were 8,830 housing units at an average density of 948.5 per square mile (366.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.64% White, 1.42% African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.93% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.27% of the population.

There were 8,105 households out of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.3% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.87.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 11.3% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 89.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $31,800, and the median income for a family was $43,780. Males had a median income of $32,339 versus $21,949 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,186. About 7.6% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.

Notable people

Lyndon B. Johnson had a niece and nephew who resided in Mattoon, IL.


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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