Illinois Has an Abandoned Town That Most People Don’t Know About


Cairo, a forgotten hamlet located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, is a hidden treasure in Illinois. Cairo was once a vibrant city with a population of over 15,000 people in the early 1900s. It thrived as a vital hub for transportation, business, and culture, with architectural marvels such as the Custom House and the Gem Theater.

However, Cairo’s tale is colored with racial tensions, economic downturns, and social unrest. Lynchings, riots, and natural disasters tarnished its history, causing a slow deterioration aggravated by prejudice and neglect. By the late twentieth century, Cairo was in ruins, with a population of less than 3,000, failing infrastructure, and declining liveliness.

Why visit Cairo:

Despite its bleak outlook, Cairo entices travelers for a variety of reasons. For starters, its rich history reflects the fabric of American history, from major events like the Civil War to social movements like the Civil Rights Movement. It represents a broad heritage, capturing the challenges and accomplishments of numerous populations, including Native Americans, African Americans, immigrants, and activists.

Second, Cairo’s architectural beauty provides a look into a past period. Its buildings, which range from Greek Revival to Art Deco, serve as reminders of previous grandeur. Notable structures, such as the Cairo Bridge and the Safford Memorial Library, provide timeless grandeur to the city’s skyline.

Third, Cairo’s natural charm captivates with its gorgeous views and outdoor activities. Its location on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers makes it ideal for fishing, boating, and animal observation at surrounding sanctuaries such as the Cypress Creek National Animal Refuge.

How to visit Cairo:

Due to the scarcity of housing and facilities, travelers drawn to Cairo must plan ahead of time. Reservations for housing, transportation, and guided tours are recommended, with internet platforms and local tourism officials providing help. A smooth visit is ensured by checking the weather and attraction availability ahead of time.

Respect for Cairo and its people is vital. Visitors must follow local laws, avoiding damage or disruption. Supporting local businesses promotes community life and preserves Cairo’s legacy.

Immerse oneself in Cairo’s rich history by visiting museums and taking architectural tours. Enjoy its natural beauty by gently exploring its riverbanks and wildlife refuges.


In conclusion, Cairo, Illinois, despite its turbulent history of racial conflicts and economic downfall, is an intriguing destination for those seeking a voyage through America’s past. The city’s architectural marvels and natural beauty transport visitors to another period, while responsible tourism protects the city’s unique legacy and generates community support for a city striving to reinvent itself.

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