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Cairo, Illinois USA
Cairo, IL - Gateway to the South
Historically, Cairo was a thriving city. People thought Cairo was going to be what Chicago is now. It is located at the southern tip of Illinois (Ohio and Mississippi rivers), so it was perfect for river trade. I live 1 1/2 hours away from Cairo. My mom and dad grew up and went to school there and I went there often as a child to visit my grandparents. The main picture on the left is an old postcard at the intersection of 8th and Commercial looking west.
Country artist Josh Thompson recently recorded his music video for "Way Out Here" in Cairo. If you take a look at his video, and then look at my pictures - you might recognize some places!
A quick overview
There were great expectations for Cairo, Illinois when it was founded in 1837. Located at the lower tip of Illinois, between the Mississippi and Ohio river, was a great city for transferring goods. There were steamboats all along the river for river trade. The town also had railroads which was also a plus for attracting people to Cairo. It was slowly growing, but did not become what was expected.
Cairo was named after Cairo, Egypt (although not pronounced the same) because of its location by the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Some call Cairo, IL "Little Egypt".
Cairo was centered around an intense civil rights movement. There were many riots and historical events that took place in Cairo, Illinois. My family can tell you many stories of this time period, but there are are books listed below that capture the history of this town very well.
Here is a small time line of a few famous people that visited Cairo.
1813: Gen. Andrew Jackson camped on the site of Cairo with 1,500 troops.
1842: Charles Dickens
1861: Generals Prentiss and Grant establish their headquarters at Cairo.
1881: President Jefferson Davis
1907: President Theodore Roosevelt
1909: President William H. Taft
Even though Cairo itself seems unwelcoming now, some of the people are still very friendly. They are old timers who have been there for years, and will help you with whatever you need.
Many people have left due to the lack of money and interest in Cairo. Cairo is full of history and stories, but has been left in abandonment. It is a sad place to be because there is so much potential and it is not being fulfilled for one reason or another. Much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
(Photo taken by me winter 2009)
Books about Cairo, Illinois
Learn even more about Cairo Illinois by reading these books.
About the civil rights in Cairo Illinois. Includes over a hundred black and white photos!
Josh Thompson - Way Out Here
This was recorded in Cairo, IL. He showcased the rundown downtown area for most of the video.
Take a Poll about Cairo
Why are you interested in Cairo?
The true story of a Civil War nurse taken place in Cairo, Illinois.
Greetings From Cairo, Illinois
The town of Cairo, IL even inspired an entire music album! Preview the songs here and click on them to buy the ones you like!
This is a video I found that has a lot of good video images of Cairo.
Tips for visiting Cairo, Illinois
1. Don't speed through town. I have heard many stories of being pulled over easily going 1 mile over. I never chance it!
2. Visit during the month of December. The town sets up a big Christmas tree, lights up the town park, and decorates Magnolia Manor.
3. If you would like to see the Magnolia Trees in bloom, travel during the spring or summer.
Nearby Sites of interest:
- Mounds City National Cemetery
- Horseshoe Lake
- Cache River
Websites of Interest
Have you ever been to Cairo, IL? Lived there? Have a story to tell? Like my Lens? Leave your feedback here.