Jonesboro is a city in Union County, Illinois. Jonesboro is famous for being the location of the third of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, on September 15, 1858. It was named for Doctor Jones, a pioneer settler.
Sometimes when I find one of these obscure, random places to write about in my blog its hard to find enough information to write a sufficient article. Others I uncover enough interesting facts and history that you could write for hours and that is the case with the Old Shawneetown State Bank.
The Shawneetown Bank, a four-story, brick and stone behemoth with five massive columns was built in 1839 and is the oldest bank building in the state.
When its charter was first granted — the first bank in Illinois Territory in 1816 — it housed a federal land office and was the hub of financial activity in Shawneetown, an important commercial center, home to the state’s thriving salt industry. That bank, which started in a log cabin in Shawneetown, collapsed in a financial panic that swept Illinois in the early 1820s, but its charter was retained. When prosperity returned in the mid 1830s, the bank reopened and the Bank of Illinois’ board of directors planned a new building.
On Aug. 3, 1839, trustees laid the cornerstone of the Shawneetown Bank; it opened for business in 1841. The bank’s style-Greek Revival-style, a popular one for banks of the period, was believed to express the American ideals of liberty and freedom.
Soon after the new building opened, however, another financial depression set in, causing the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown to suspend operations in 1842. The building stood empty for a decade until the State Bank of Illinois opened there in 1854.
By that time, Shawneetown had fallen on hard times. Railroads and canals had cut into the river traffic upon which the town depended before the Civil War and afterward, the population gradually declined.
The bank housed numerous financial institutions from 1854 to the 1930s, but finally closed its doors in 1942 and was deeded to the state. Some restoration was completed in the 1970s, but budgetary problems prevented further work. In 1972 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Landmark Illinois, a state historical preservation organization, listed Shawneetown Bank as one of the 10 most endangered sites of 2009.
This truss bridge carries old Illinois state route 3 over Sexton Creek near the community of Gale in northern Alexander County, Illinois.
The bridge was constructed in 1933 and bypassed by the reconstruction of state route 3 to the west in 1990.
The bridge is 337 feet long and 23 feet wide. It was rehabilitated in 2011
This bridge is elegible to be considered to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When I first started planning my trip back to Cairo I knew I wanted to travel north of the city and explore. The last, and only other time I explored Cairo it was a simple jet across the bridge, explore the town and then jet back across the bridge. I found this wonderful ruin on google earth in the nearby town of Mounds. I knew I had to visit.
Mounds Township High School was built sometime in the 1920s. It was one of 4 high schools that served this area of Pulaski County.
The school’s mascot was the Railroaders and the school’s colors were Purple, Gold and White.
The school remained in operation until the end of the 1963-64 school year when Mounds-Meridian High School opened and consolidated Mounds Township with three other neighboring high schools. The Consolidated school is still in operation as simply Meridian High School. Enrollment for the 2016-17 school year is approximately 130 students.
The Cairo-Mississippi River bridge was constructed in 1929 and carries US 60 and US 62 from Cairo Illinois across the Mississippi River to a point in Missouri just north of the town of Charleston. The bridge is 5,175 feet long.
he bridge originated as a toll bridge in 1929, constructed by the American Bridge Company and the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company. Traveling downstream, the Cairo Mississippi River Bridge is the southernmost crossing of the Mississippi River prior to its confluence with the Ohio River and lies just 2000 feet west of the mouth of the Ohio.
Many people have pondered the question if the construction of the two Cairo River bridges played a role in the town’s demise. In the years since the construction of the two bridges, the town of Cairo has experienced an 81% population decline (1930 to 2010), the most dramatic decrease of any principal city in the United States. The bridges initially played a part in the town’s demise as the ferry and railroad industries were severely impacted. In 1978, the Cairo I-57 Bridge was completed less than five miles upstream, bypassing Cairo and contributing to its further decline.
The Cairo-Ohio River Bridge carries US 51, 60 and 62 across the Ohio River from Wickliffe, Kentucky to Cairo, Illinois.
Of all the Ohio River crossings, it is the furthest downstream; the Mississippi River can be seen while crossing the bridge and looking westward.
Construction was awarded to Modjeski and Masters and the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company. It was finished in 1937 and rehabilitated in 1979. The bridge spans 5,863 feet and is 20 feet wide.
Today the Cairo Ohio River Bridge is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Over the past few days I have been rambling about the Bluegrass state and the southern edge of Illinois and a small corner of Missouri. Why you might ask? Well, like I stated in this blog earlier this week I just had to go back to Cairo one more time before the town declinds even further and also, as you might have figured out I have this weird obsession with docummenting and experiencing Sears / Kmart as much as possible, especially since their future doesnt look particularly bright. What does Sears and Kmart have to do with this area of the country?
Well in January, Sears Holdings announced they would close 7(SEVEN?!?!?!) more Kmart stores across the Bluegrass State. All of the ones that were closing that I hadnt been to were from Bowling Green West. Couple this with the fact that the stores close for good on or about March 19th (my spring break isnt until mid-late April) and the fact that once I got to Paducah I would only be 30 minutes from Cairo I just had to do what it took to make it happen.
It snowballed into a trip covering 4 states and by the time I realized I would only be less than an hour from one of the very last Sears stores built from the ground up ( built in 2006 ) AND it is also one of the very last Sears Grand stores still signed as such…..I covered a little over 900 miles, 7 new to me Kmart stores (side note: I have now been to every Kmart store currently opene in the bluegrass state! , 2 Sears stores, (1 closing and 1 Sears Grand) Multiple abandoned schools, throw in an abandoned hospital and the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and I have had a very busy, but fulfilling time. I will be covering all of these discoveries and explorations in the blog over the next month or so. I look forward to sharing my disooveries with you!
Back in March of 2012 I took a meandering road trip crossing back and forth across the Ohio River between Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and eventually Missouri. When I started this road trip just north of Louisville, I knew my ultimate endpoint was Cairo, Illinois, the southern most town in Illinois.
At this time the only significance I knew of about Cairo was that it was the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. I had no idea the deep history I would uncover when I actually visited the town.
Once I got to the town of Cairo I was floored with the amount of urban decay, and I say that in a very loving way. I hadnt been that impressed since I stumbled upon the coal towns of southern West Virginia.
Cairo was founded in 1858. The peak population of Cairo occured in 1920 at nearly 16,000 people. The 2015 estimate is fewer than 2,500.
According to updates on google earth many of the buildings in my photos are now demolished. In the very near future I am returning to Cairo complete with updated pictures and definitely more documentation than I had from the trip in 2012. Be on the lookout for the update in the next week or so!