Nilwood High School

Nilwood School Building
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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 . In summary the article, written by Gloria Frazier, states the following:

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 school.

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

Year opened:                   late 1800s / early 1900s

Year closed:                    late 1940s?

Consolidated to:             Girard High School

Nilwood HS nickname:  unavailable

Nilwood HS colors:        unavailable

NHS Fight Song:             unavailable


Nilwood High School probably competed in boys basketball and track.  They may have also competed in baseball. If you have any other information you can provide regarding the history of the Nilwood High School athletic program please forward it to us so we may share it on this page.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Did Nilwood High School have a band? Chorus? FFA? FHA? It is likely that the Nilwood kids had many opportunities to participate in these and other activities at the school.

Special Gratitude

Thank you to our long time contributor and great fan Roberta VanBriesen for finding the information that led to the creation of this page.  May the memories of Nilwood High School live on forever!

Seeking More Information

As you can tell there is a lot of information that needs to be added to the Nilwood High School history of this page.  There were many people and residents of the town that made the era of Nilwood High School a successful one. The efforts of these people should not be forgotten. You can e-mail this information to us at   You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago,  Il.  60631

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