Effingham, Illinois
The Old Effingham County Courthouse in the mid-2000s.
The Old Effingham County Courthouse in the mid-2000s.
"Crossroads of Opportunity"
Location of Effingham in Effingham County, Illinois
Location of Effingham in Effingham County, Illinois
Effingham is located in Illinois
Effingham is located in the United States
Coordinates: 39°7′15″N 88°32′45″W / 39.12083°N 88.54583°W / 39.12083; -88.54583
CountryUnited States
 • MayorMike Schutzbach
 • Total10.55 sq mi (27.34 km2)
 • Land10.48 sq mi (27.16 km2)
 • Water0.07 sq mi (0.18 km2)
Elevation594 ft (181 m)
 • Total12,252
 • Density1,168.53/sq mi (451.16/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area codes217, 447
FIPS code17-22736
GNIS ID2394628[2]
Wikimedia CommonsEffingham, Illinois

Effingham is a city in and the county seat of Effingham County, Illinois, United States. It is in South Central Illinois. Its population was 12,252 at the 2020 census. The city is part of the Effingham, IL Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The city bills itself as "The Crossroads of Opportunity" because of its location at the intersection of two major Interstate highways: I-57 running from Chicago to Sikeston, Missouri, and I-70 running from Utah to Maryland. It is also served by U.S. Route 45, which runs from Ontonagon, Michigan to Mobile, Alabama, U.S. Route 40, the historic National Road, which stretches from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Silver Summit, Utah, and Illinois routes 32 and 33 also run through the city. It is also a major railroad junction, the crossing of the Illinois Central main line from Chicago to Memphis with the Pennsylvania Railroad line from Indianapolis to St. Louis. For this reason, Effingham has a much broader range of restaurants and lodging facilities than typical towns of its size.


Effingham is located at 39°7′15″N 88°32′45″W / 39.12083°N 88.54583°W / 39.12083; -88.54583 (39.120903, −88.545909).[3]

According to the 2021 census gazetteer files, Effingham has a total area of 10.56 square miles (27.35 km2), of which 10.49 square miles (27.17 km2) (or 99.34%) is land and 0.07 square miles (0.18 km2) (or 0.66%) is water.[4]

Effingham is served by a total of 5 highways, only 2 of them being interstates. Interstate 57 comes into Effingham County with Edgewood, Illinois. It officially comes into Effingham was a cross Directional T interchange with Interstate 70 west towards St. Louis. It runs concurrently with Interstate 57 as it goes through the city's southside exits. It makes its first with W Fayette Avenue and then takes a short curve east and makes a half diamond and half partial cloverleaf interchange with N Keller Drive and Illinois Route 33. After the interchange, it makes an interchange with U.S. Route 45 and the concurrency ends with a last Directional T interchange with Interstate 70. This time, Interstate 70 runs off east towards Indianapolis making Interstate 57 continue its route towards Mattoon, Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, and finally Chicago.


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[5][6]

As of the 2020 census[7] there were 12,252 people, 5,205 households, and 3,029 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,160.78 inhabitants per square mile (448.18/km2). There were 5,862 housing units at an average density of 555.38 per square mile (214.43/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 91.00% White, 0.85% African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.31% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.80% from other races, and 4.77% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.60% of the population.

There were 5,205 households, out of which 27.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.77% were married couples living together, 11.82% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.81% were non-families. 33.26% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.64% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 2.29.

The city's age distribution consisted of 22.9% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 23.6% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,551, and the median income for a family was $69,405. Males had a median income of $37,288 versus $26,182 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,029. About 10.8% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.8% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


Effingham was first settled in 1814, and was known from then until 1859 as Broughton.[8] In 1859, it became the county seat with buildings relocated from nearby (now deserted) Ewington.[9] The community was named after General E. Effingham, a local surveyor.[10]

In the late 1880s, local citizens founded Austin College, which lasted for several decades, and ultimately was purchased to become the Illinois College of Photography, also known as Bissel College. That school closed due to the Great Depression in the 1930s.[11]

On April 4, 1949, St. Anthony's Hospital caught fire and burned to the ground, killing 74 people.[12] As a result, fire codes nationwide were improved. Due to extensive media coverage, including a Life magazine cover story,[12] donations for rebuilding the hospital came from all 48 states and several foreign countries.

Effingham was a sundown town;[13] daytime segregation was enforced until at least the mid-1960s.[14]

Rail transportation

See also: Effingham (Amtrak station)

Effingham is historically important as a rail junction. The old Pennsylvania Railroad and the former Illinois Central Railroad crossed in downtown Effingham.[15]

The former Illinois Central line was taken over by Canadian National in 1999,[16]: 10  and the former Pennsylvania Railroad was taken over by Conrail, in turn this line is now operated by CSX.

Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, provides service to Effingham under the daily City of New Orleans route to New Orleans and Chicago, and the Saluki and Illini to Chicago and Carbondale. Until October 1, 1979, the station also served Amtrak's former National Limited line between Kansas City and New York City.


Effingham has several schools, both public and private. The private schools are both religiously affiliated and include Saint Anthony and Sacred Heart. Saint Anthony Grade School (SAGS) serves grades preschool (age 3+) to eighth grade. SAGS has the Bullpup as its mascot. Sacred Heart Grade School (SHS) serves preschool (age 3+) to eighth grade. SHS's mascot is the Shamrock. The public schools include the Early Learning Center, South Side Elementary, Central Grade School, Effingham Junior High School (EJHS), and Effingham High School. The Early Learning Center serves preschool and kindergarten age children. South Side Elementary serves first and second graders. Aspire is a school for students who are likely to drop out or those who get expelled. Central Grade School serves third through fifth grade students. Central Grade school's mascot is the Mustang. EJHS serves junior high students in grades six to eight. EJHS's mascot is the Mustang.

Effingham High School (EHS) is the public high school.[17] The new EHS opened in the fall of 1998, and has a current enrollment of 849.[18] The former EHS building, built in 1939 as a WPA project and expanded in 1965, is currently the junior high, serving grades 6–8. The old junior high, Central School, is now a grade school serving grades 3–5. EHS athletics were originally known as the Warriors but the name was changed after Ada Kepley, a city resident, referred to Effingham as the "Heart of America" in a campaign to attract visitors to the city. The name stuck, with references in the city government and the downtown movie theater named the Heart Theater. EHS athletics are now known as the Flaming Hearts.

Effingham is also home to St. Anthony High School, a private Roman Catholic High School. SAHS athletics are known as the Bulldogs.


Cross at Interstate 57 and 70

The Cross at the Crossroads, a 198-foot (60 m) steel cross erected by the Cross Foundation is located in Effingham and was inaugurated in 2001. The cross is made out of over 180 tons of steel and cost over $1 million.[19] The Cross Foundation claims that the cross is the largest in the United States, standing at 198-foot (60 m) with a span of 113-foot (34 m).[20]

Notable people

In popular culture

Comedians and authors have poked fun at the "Effing" portion of the name Effingham and its use in North American and UK slang as a minced oath for the word "fuck".[24] For example, radio comedians Bob and Tom produced a segment on their national radio show referencing Effingham.[25] Ben Folds's album Way to Normal uses a similar play on words in a track that was inspired by driving past Effingham, although the song refers to the city as "Effington".[26]


  1. ^ "2020 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Effingham, Illinois
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. February 12, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  4. ^ "Gazetteer Files". Census.gov. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  5. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Census.gov. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "Effingham city, Illinois". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 14, 2022. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  7. ^ "Explore Census Data". data.census.gov. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  8. ^ History of Effingham Archived July 28, 2012, at archive.today
  9. ^ "EDN Bicentennial Series: Ewington was first Effingham County seat".
  10. ^ Illinois Central Magazine. Illinois Central Railroad Company. 1922. p. 46.
  11. ^ Perkins, Kevin. "Austin College". www.frontiernet.net. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  12. ^ a b LIFE. Time Inc. April 18, 1949.
  13. ^ Loewen, James W. (July 9, 2006). "Honda's All-American Sundown Town". History News Network. The George Washington University. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
  14. ^ Loewen, James W. (September 29, 2005). Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension Of American Racism. The New Press. p. 231. ISBN 1595586741.
  15. ^ Worman, Roger (1973). A Geographic Analysis of the Impact of Interstate Highways 57 and 70 on Certain Aspects of the Economy of the City of Effingham, Illinois (Masters thesis).
  16. ^ Downey, Clifford J. (2007). Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-5074-9. Retrieved July 11, 2023.
  17. ^ "EFFINGHAM HIGH SCHOOL". Effingham Community Schools. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  18. ^ "EFFINGHAM HIGH SCHOOL". Illinois Report Card. Illinois State Board of Education. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  19. ^ "World's Largest Cross FAQ". worldslargestthings.com. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  20. ^ Gregory, Ted. "Landmark speaks volumes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  21. ^ "Nick Gardewine Stats".
  22. ^ "Chad Green Amateur, College & Minor Leagues Statistics & History".
  23. ^ "Daniel Winkler Register Statistics & History | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
  24. ^ "Eff". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  25. ^ The Effing House Family Restaurant, retrieved September 19, 2017
  26. ^ Charlie Amter (October 21, 2008). "Small town Mayor to Ben Folds: We will bury you". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 15, 2009.