The History of Nilwood High School
Nilwood (population 284) is located in southwestern Illinois in the northeastern portion
of Macoupin County. Nilwood sits about 25 miles south (and a little west) of Springfield. Illinois Route 4 is the main
roadway to and from Nilwood. County Highway 28 also leads to Nilwood. The Southern Pacific Railroad line passes through the
heart of town.
A nice history of the town of Nilwood can be read at the web address of
Nilwood was incorporated in 1867. The population at that time was about 700. The town was named by the railroad
engineers who first traveled through the area. There were very few trees from which to gain needed wood for the
steam engine boiler, so the saying "nil wood" meant "no wood". The name eventually stuck. Like many small towns
of the late 1800s, prosperity lasted through the early 1930s. A population of about 500 was enjoyed then. Since that
time most businesses and residents have left, leaving the town holding steady at its current population.
Schooling for children of Nilwood began shortly after the area was settled.A frame schoolhouse was built
in 1869. By 1880 a brick school building had been built. By the early 1900s a high school was established along with the grade
school. Quoting directly from the article:
"In the early part of the twentieth century, Nilwood
had the coal mine, bank, post office, 3 or 4 general/grocery stores, tavern, grain elevator, blacksmith shop (maybe two blacksmith shops), a high school and grade school, and, when gasoline cars came
along, Nilwood boasted more than five filling (gasoline) stations."
Mr. Terry Warren served in Illinois' public educaton for 38 years, culminating in his retirement
in 2013. He was a student teacher at Nilwood Elementary School and provided the following information:
"I had done my student teaching at Nilwood during the 1974-75 school year and was hired
as a teacher for the 1975-76 year. Nilwood Elementary housed only first and second grades at that time, with grades K and
3-12 attending school in Girard. Mr. David Goddard was Principal, although his office was in the Girard grade
I have no knowledge of when the Nilwood building ceased serving as a school, as I moved from the area in
1976. During April 2013, I stopped by the old Nilwood School, to find that it had recently been razed, most likely sometime
in 2012 or earlier in 2013. All that remained were a couple of piles of bricks, which I was later informed were apparently
left for anyone who wanted a memento."
Our guess is that Nilwood High School existed through at least the mid 1940s. The school was consolidated
into the Girard School District. The kids of Nilwood today attend North Mac High School in Virden.
Nilwood High School Quick Facts
late 1800s / early 1900s
Nilwood HS nickname: unavailable
Nilwood HS colors: unavailable
NHS Fight Song: unavailable