Photo by John Stohler
Several years ago John Stohler of Wichita took this photo of the sunset from his motel parking lot in Effingham, Ill., while on a summer road trip. It shows thunderstorm clouds silhouetted by the background of the setting sun. He titled it Fiery Furnace.
When asked to send some information about Effingham, he sent this second photo. Stohler said if a town could be described with only one picture, this image is a good candidate. He took it in a McDonald’s parking lot. Stohler described Effingham as a city of hotels/motels, restaurants and truck stops.
“With a population of about 12,300 people, I would not be surprised if Effingham has more hotel rooms per capita than any other city in the USA, with the exception of Las Vegas. If you open a road atlas to the state of Illinois and locate Effingham, you will see the reason… Two major interstate highways, east/west bound I-70 and north/south bound I-57, merge on the west side of Effingham, share the same roadbed for several miles, and then diverge on the east side of Effingham. I-57 veers north to terminate in Chicago and I-70 continues to the east to terminate near Baltimore.
“For the past 40 years my wife and I pass through Effingham on I-70 due to annual road trips to visit relatives in Pennsylvania. Because Effingham is almost 500 miles east of Wichita (95 miles east of St. Louis), it has become our favorite stopping-off location… to rest and overnight after a long day of driving.
“As the decades passed, we somehow acquired our favorite motel, also. During one stay I told the manager that we have booked her property so many times that we probably paid for the construction of several rooms.
“Over the years Effingham’s travel amenities have continued to grow, along with the two merged interstates. Forty years ago the combined roadbed was only 4 lanes wide (2 in each direction). Today, to keep pace with the greater traffic volume, the combined roadbed has doubled to eight lanes (4 in each direction). In addition to the interstate highways, two major cross-country railroads meet in Effingham.”