Saline County, Illinois

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Saline County, Illinois
Harrisburg, IL 1917 Saline County Courthouse.jpg
Saline County Courthouse in Harrisburg
Seal of Saline County, Illinois
Map of Illinois highlighting Saline County
Location in the state of Illinois
Map of the United States highlighting Illinois
Illinois's location in the U.S.
Founded 1847
Named for Saline River
Seat Harrisburg
Largest city Harrisburg
 • Total 387 sq mi (1,002 km2)
 • Land 380 sq mi (984 km2)
 • Water 7.0 sq mi (18 km2), 1.8%
 • (2010) 24,913
 • Density 66/sq mi (25/km²)
Congressional district 15th
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
The Largest KFC in America, located in Harrisburg, IL, has 2.5 dining rooms, and a large buffet.

Saline County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it had a population of 24,913.[1] Its county seat is Harrisburg.[2] It is located in the southern portion of Illinois known locally as "Little Egypt".

Saline County is home to the largest KFC in the United States.[citation needed] There are three major towns in Saline County connected by U.S. Route 45, and formerly by the now abandoned Cairo and Vincennes/Big Four/New York Central Line, from north to south, Eldorado, Harrisburg, and Carrier Mills.

Saline county is currently the 97th poorest county in the state, out of 102.[citation needed]


Saline County was formed from Gallatin County in 1847. It is named for the Saline River and the springs from which salt was produced in the early history of Gallatin County.

Saline County was almost named "Moredock County", in honor of John Moredock, the "Indian slayer". Moredock was an early settler, who when a young boy witnessed the massacre of his family. He spent much of the rest of his life ambushing and murdering Native Americans. Although many settlers regarded this as wrong, Moredock was never charged for any of his crimes.

The creation of Saline County was extremely controversial. Illinois originally had a small number of very large counties. As settlement proceeded, new counties were formed out of the original counties as a routine matter. Gallatin County was an early county that was formed in 1812, and quickly split into around fifteen counties, with Gallatin County remaining with what is now Saline County. This persisted for several decades after the era of rapid formation of counties.

Old Shawneetown was the original county seat of Gallatin County. At that time Old Shawneetown was the largest city and commercial center of Illinois. It was, however, located on the eastern edge of the County. In 1826, the county seat was moved to the new village of Equality, near the center of what was then Gallatin County. Old Shawneetown opposed this move, and sought redress by splitting off Saline County, with the aim of moving the County seat of what remained back to Old Shawneetown. Thus the impetus for the formation of Saline County came not from settlers at the fringe of the county, but from the core of the original county.

Saline County was created by a voice vote in the General Assembly in 1847. Completion of the formation of the county, however, involved three acts of the General Assembly, four decisions of the Illinois Supreme Court and two referendums. The controversy came to involve the leading attorneys of Illinois, including Abraham Lincoln.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 387 square miles (1,000 km2), of which 380 square miles (980 km2) is land and 7.0 square miles (18 km2) (1.8%) is water.[3]

The Saline County area is mostly rolling hills throughout gradually rising to the Hills of the Shawnee National Forest. The Saline River flows through the central point of the county in three forks: North, Middle, and South. To the north of Eldorado there are flat lowlands.[4]

Climate and weather[edit]

Harrisburg, Illinois
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Source: The Weather Channel[5]

In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Harrisburg have ranged from a low of 22 °F (−6 °C) in January to a high of 89 °F (32 °C) in July, although a record low of −23 °F (−31 °C) was recorded in February 1951 and a record high of 113 °F (45 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 3.04 inches (77 mm) in September to 4.98 inches (126 mm) in May.[5]

Adjacent counties[edit]

National protected area[edit]


Major highways[edit]

Public transportation[edit]

Public transportation is provided by the Rides Mass Transit District and Harrisburg Taxi.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 5,588
1860 9,331 67.0%
1870 12,714 36.3%
1880 15,940 25.4%
1890 19,342 21.3%
1900 21,685 12.1%
1910 30,204 39.3%
1920 38,353 27.0%
1930 37,100 −3.3%
1940 38,066 2.6%
1950 33,420 −12.2%
1960 26,227 −21.5%
1970 25,721 −1.9%
1980 28,448 10.6%
1990 26,551 −6.7%
2000 26,733 0.7%
2010 24,913 −6.8%
Est. 2013 24,939 0.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790-1960[7] 1900-1990[8]
1990-2000[9] 2010-2013[1]


Whereas according to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau:


As of the census of 2000,[10] there were 26,733 people, 10,992 households, and 7,232 families residing in the county. The population density was 70 people per square mile (27/km²). There were 12,360 housing units at an average density of 32 per square mile (12/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.14% White, 4.06% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 0.20% Asian American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.34% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. 0.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 27.3% were of American, 16.2% German, 14.5% Irish and 13.9% English ancestry.

There were 10,992 households out of which 28.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.90% were married couples living together, 10.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.20% were non-families. 31.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.00% under the age of 18, 8.20% from 18 to 24, 25.10% from 25 to 44, 23.70% from 45 to 64, and 19.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 92.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $28,768, and the median income for a family was $37,295. Males had a median income of $31,131 versus $19,276 for females. The per capita income for the county was $15,590. About 10.40% of families and 14.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.80% of those under age 18 and 11.60% of those age 65 or over.


Coal mining makes up the largest percentage of industrial employment in Saline County. The county is home to the Galatia Mine, which by industry standards is the largest underground coal mine in Illinois and currently employs close to 500 workers. The mining and exploration industry feeds other sources of employment such as coal and materials hauling and excavation. Construction fields and services also benefit from Saline County's mining industry.

Other employment in the county is generally made up by the medical, social and state services. Harrisburg is home to the Harrisburg Illinois Youth Center which is operated by Illinois Department of Corrections and holds male juvenile offenders.

The county is served by Southeastern Illinois College, a two-year community college located on state highway 13 about 4 miles east of Harrisburg.

Hospitals serving the county are Harrisburg Medical Center and Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado. Public health services are administered by Egyptian Health Department.




Unincorporated communities[edit]


Saline County is divided into thirteen townships:

See also[edit]


  • "Tails and Trails of Illinois", Stu Fliege, University of Illinois Press,2002.
  • ", © 2000-2001 by Debbie Woolard, Illinois Trails History and Genealogy.
  • Gillum Ferguson. 2007. The Perilous Infancy of Saline County, Journal of Illinois History, Vol. 10, p. 49.
  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Monthly Averages for Harrisburg, Illinois". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 8, 2014. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°45′N 88°32′W / 37.75°N 88.54°W / 37.75; -88.54