Main Births etc
Country United States
State Illinois
Counties Marion, Clinton, Washington, Jefferson
Townships Centralia, Brookside, Grand Prairie,
Elevation 535 ft (163 m)
Coordinates 38°31′31″N 89°7′57″W / 38.52528, -89.1325
Area 9.23 sq mi (24 km²)
 - land 8.19 sq mi (21 km²)
 - water 1.03 sq mi (3 km²)
Population 13,032 (2010)
Density 1,411.9 / sq mi (545 / km²)
Founded 1853
Mayor Tom Ashby
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
Locator Red.svg
Location of Centralia within Illinois

Wikimedia Commons: Centralia, Illinois

Centralia is a city in Clinton, Jefferson, Marion, and Washington counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. The population was 14,136 at the 2000 census. The current mayor is Tom Ashby.


Centralia is named for the Illinois Central Railroad, built in 1853. The city was founded at the location where the two original branches of the railroad converged. Coincidentally, Centralia is "central" for another reason, perhaps unbeknownst to its founders: in the southern city limits is the intersection of the Third Principal Meridian and its baseline. This initial point was established in 1815, and it governs land surveys for about 60% of the state of Illinois, including Chicago.[1] The original monument is at the junction of Highway 51 and the Marion-Jefferson County Line Road; today there is a small easement situated in the northeast corner of this intersection, which contains a monument and historic marker.

In 2000 a three year old boy was smothered by a 7.5 foot African Rock Python in Centralia.[2]


Centralia is located approximately 60 miles (100 km) east of St. Louis, Missouri. It 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 and Aurora. 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.

According to the 2010 census, the city has a total area of 9.23 square miles (23.9 km2), of which 8.19 square miles (21.2 km2) (or 88.73%) is land and 1.03 square miles (2.7 km2) (or 11.16%) is water.[3]


As of the census[4] 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 per square mile (323.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.50% White, 25.34% 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 investigation team sent by the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor found “a blownout shot of explosives that was stemmed with coal dust or an underburdened shot of explosions could have ignited the coal dust that was raised by preceding shots of explosions”.[5]

blown-out shot
a blast in which the explosive action breaks little or no coal or rock
insufficient burden of rock in relation to the explosive charge, resulting in a blown-out shot or a premature shot through shock of a neighboring charge of a blast pattern, often yielding less work than expected.

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.

Song tributes[]

The story of the 1947 disaster is memorialized in folk singer 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 labor scholar 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 (0.951 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 27 hole frisbee disc course, a Chapel in the Woods, the Hall Shelter, the Sentinel Shelter, The Bowl (an outdoor amphitheatre), Moose Oven and the Miner's Memorial.

Centralia Bell Tower

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. The Annual Centralia Balloon festival was the event in which the second "Space Shuttle" hot air balloon was crashed due to a fuel line defect.

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 5½ tons.

Centralia is home to Kaskaskia College, Centralia High School, and Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School.

Centralia High School is home of the Orphans and Annies. The Centralia boys basketball team won its 2,000th game during the 2007-08 season, making it the winningest team in the US. The Centralia Orphans were the State Runner-Up in the 2011 Class 3A.

The Orphans got their unique nickname during the early 1900s, when the boys basketball team made it to the state tournament. The school was low on funds at the time, and the team was forced to pick its uniforms from a pile of non-matching red uniforms. The team made it to the state tournament, where an announcer commented that the team looked like a bunch of orphans on the court. The name stuck. Previously, the team had gone by nicknames such as the Reds and Cardinals. The Centralia Orphans were recently named the Most Unique Mascot in the nation by USA Today.

Christ Our Rock Lutheran High School first opened it's doors in August of 2004 with just nine students. As of 2013, the student body has grown to be over 100 students. Christ Our Rock is the home of the Silver Stallions.[6]

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.

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.

Notable people[]

  • David Blackwell, statistician and first black member of the National Academy of Sciences
  • James Brady, press secretary to President Ronald Reagan
  • Roland Burris, Illinois Attorney General, Illinois Comptroller, and senator
  • Brian Dinkelman, second baseman with the Minnesota Twins
  • Dike Eddleman, small forward with the Tri-Cities Blackhakws/Milwaukee Hawks and Fort Wayne Pistons
  • Bryan Eversgerd, pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals
  • Gary Gaetti, third baseman with the six MLB teams
  • Dick Garrett, guard with the Los Angeles Lakers, Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks
  • Gene Paulette, infielder for four Major League Baseball teams; born in Centralia
  • Smiley Quick, golfer with the PGA tour
  • Nancy Scranton, golfer with the LPGA tour
  • Tom Wargo, golfer with the Senior PGA Tour

See also[]

  • 1947 Centralia mine disaster
  • 2013 Centralia blizzard
  • Centralia bell tower


External links[]

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This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Centralia, Illinois. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.