The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Cairo (Illinois)
CAIRO, a city of Illinois, capital of Alexander county, built on a low point of land at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, forming the southernmost point of the state, 125 m. S. S. E. of St. Louis; pop. in 1860, 2,188; in 1870, 6,267. It is the southern terminus of the Illinois Central railroad, and is connected by ferry with Columbus, Ky., the northern terminus of the Mobile and Ohio railroad. Steamers upon the Ohio and Mississippi make this one of their stopping places. The county buildings are large and handsome; the custom house, of cut stone, cost about $200,000. One daily, one tri-weekly, and three weekly newspapers are published here. For the year ending June 30, 1871, there were enrolled and licensed at this port 17 steamboats with a tonnage of 3,507. Cairo was founded with the expectation that it would become a great commercial city, and large sums of money were expended in improvements by the Illinois Central railroad company, who owned a great part of the land, and had here their workshops. To protect it from inundation, levees were erected, and an embankment 80 ft. wide and 10 ft. high was commenced about 1857. In the summer of 1858 a flood destroyed almost the entire town, which was subsequently restored, and is now amply protected from floods. During the civil war Cairo was an important depot of supplies.