Centralia, Illinois

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Centralia is a town located in Marion, Washington, Clinton, and Jefferson Counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. The population was 14,136 at the 2000 census. The town was founded because it was the point where the two original branches of the Illinois Central Railroad, built in 1856, converged. The town is named for the railroad. The current mayor is Becky Ault.

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.



Over the course of its 150-year history, Centralia has weathered more than its share of setbacks. The Illinois Central railroad traffic that put the town on the map in 1851 has long since disappeared. Coal mining virtually stopped overnight following a 1947 mine disaster that killed 111 miners. The oil boom, which at one time made the surrounding countryside resemble a derrick factory showroom, dried up in the 1950s, but the derricks are still there. Taking advantage of the available labor pool and industrial support, extensive light and medium consumer product manufacturing developed during the 1970s, but this has also since collapsed as this business sector moved overseas. Centralia also has one of the oldest Amateur Radio clubs in the state dating back to 1929 W9CWA. Centralia also achieved fame after completion of the 1960 U.S. Census. It was determined that the population center of the United States was in Centralia based on data taken from that census.

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