In the 1850’s two railroad companies, the Illinois Central Railroad and the Terre Haute - Alton Railroad realized that their rail lines would intersect one another in southeastern Illinois. It was also agreed that the company who reached the intersection first would not have to pay to maintain the crossing in the future. A race ensured and as word got out of the race, investors began to speculate and develop the area of land where the two railroads would cross. This area would eventually become the town of Mattoon, Illinois. Today, the city of Mattoon is nestled in the heart of Coles County, Illinois. It covers an area of ten square miles and is home to over 18,500 citizens.
From outdoor recreational activities to diverse shopping and dining sites, Mattoon has something for everyone. The city’s wide variety of outdoor venues include delightful parks, golf courses, and two nearby lakes that offer boating, swimming, tubing, camping, and fishing. The city also has a variety of specialty shops as well as some unique art attractions. Throughout the year, Mattoon hosts numerous fairs and festivals, including a craft fair, the Lightworks Festival, and the annual Bagelfest that is held each July. The Lightworks Festival is particularly festive. Festival organizers illuminate the city’s Peterson Park with a huge collection of holiday lights displayed as a drive-through attraction.