Effingham is served by the daily Illini and Saluki trains and is a flag stop on theCity of New Orleans. The station waiting room, which had been partially renovated by the current owners in 2007, is in one of three brick buildings at the intersection of the CSXT and CN Railroad lines.
The first Union Depot was built in 1851 for the Chicago to Cairo branch of the Illinois Central Railroad (IC). The crossing of the National Road and the IC became a place of increased economic interest and as a result, the people of Effingham County voted to move the county seat to the crossing, where they built a city called Effingham. The first scheduled passenger train arrived there in 1856. The National Road (now covered by U.S. 40) had been created in 1806 by an act of Congress to serve as the first federally funded highway construction project.
The Union Depot served the IC (now CN) until 1870, when the St. Louis, Vandalia and Terre Haute Railroad Company, later the Pennsylvania Railroad, and today the CSXT, completed its construction and connected east to west at Effingham’s Union Station. Today, only freight rolls on the CSXT lines.
The current Effingham Union Station was dedicated October 6, 1924. The Effingham station was a very busy place in early days, and hotels sprouted up in the town to serve the rail travelers. Because of the intersection of the railroad lines, Effingham was considered locally to be the “Heart of the United States.” To continue that theme in later years, a heart-shaped garden in front of the depot was designed, planted and maintained by area garden clubs.
At the very busy intersection of Interstate 57 and U.S. 40 stands a 198-foot high and 113-foot wide white cross and associated chapel that was erected in 2001 by the Cross and the Crossroads Foundation, an ecumenical group that was first associated with Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham.
The city is also home to the MA Garage Museum, a collection of vintage Corvettes and Volkswagens famous nationwide, that belongs to the Mid-America Motorworks. The MA Motorworks specializes in parts and materials for rebuilding vintage Corvettes and Volkswagens and sponsors a Funfest for Corvette lovers each fall, the largest Corvette show in the nation, attracting 7,000 Corvettes and 1,000 Volkswagens yearly.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this facility, which is served by six daily trains. The Illini and Saluki are financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois State Department of Transportation.