Learning Lincoln On-line
Topic- #14 Virtual Field Trip Through Coles County for Lincoln and Grant Sites
#14) The Essex House Hotel & Railroad Intersection point in Mattoon, 1858-- Exact site, but no original structure
Location: Northwest of the location of the current Illinois Central Depot on Broadway Ave., in Mattoon.
This is a map-layout of Mattoon Railroad Intersection before the subway was constructed. Broadway Ave., is where it is now, and you can see the intersection of the major railway tracks, and the triangular building is the Essex Hotel.
Mattoon, Illinois, now perhaps the larger city in Coles County did not exist before 1855. The railroad was established and the town grew around it rather quickly. Two railroads would intersect in the middle of the downtown area: the Illinois Central (north/south line) and the Terre Haute Alton line (east/west through Charleston) It is said that the two lines would have to take turns crossing through the intersection. The present underpass was not built until several years later. The Essex House Hotel was located at the intersection. This hotel would be the overnight stay place for Abraham Lincoln the night before his great debate at Charleston.
Mattoon would also be the location of where Colonel U.S. Grant would muster the Illinois Volunteers to send into the Civil War.