Like so many of the towns in Clinton County, Illinois, Albers can trace its history back to German inhabitants and the railroad. The small community proudly celebrated its 125 anniversary in 2015.
In the 1860’s, the railroad line was extended and that spurred the beginning of Albers. But it was the expansion of mining that created the big boom in population and garnered Albers the title, “the biggest little town in Illinois.” Albers was home to Exxon Mobil’s Monterey Coal Mine #2, one of the largest in the state. The underground mine operations included coal extraction, coal processing and coal disposal with an area of up to 12,000 acres. A whopping three million tons of coal was extracted from the mine. The coal was held in three 300-foot silos and then moved on a massive conveyor belt to train cars that hauled it east to Indiana. In the summer of 1996, Exxon decided to close the mine and with it, Albers lost 370 jobs, a big hit for a little town.
Visit Albers today and you’ll see a vibrant and growing little town that supports an elementary school, as well as Central High and Mater Dei Catholic School. The rural community is home to agriculture, construction, a meat processing plant and other supportive businesses, along with the very active American Legion Post 1026—a favorite for its Sunday evening dinners and Queen of Hearts raffle.
Located along the Southern Illinois Railway just 34 miles east of St. Louis, Missouri, Albers may be small, but it holds a big place in the heart of Clinton County.