Prairie City High School “Cobras”

Prairie City High School
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Courtesy of “Marie”
Prairie City High School – Post Card of 1920
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Courtesy of Marc Young

The History of Prairie City High School

Prairie City (population 461) is located in upper-western Illinois in the far northeastern portion of McDonough County.  The town was platted in 1854 and sits about 15 miles northeast of Macomb.  The Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad was instrumental in the town’s early growth.  Today Prairie City is located on Illinois Route 41 at County Roadway N2350th Road.  Railroad tracks now run by the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad still travel through town.  Branches of the Garrison Creek flow through the north and south sides of town.  A  great history of the town can be read at the following web address:

Prairie City Academy 1859 – High School 1876
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Submitted by John Bybee

The first school building was established in 1855, just one year after the town was platted. The town’s growth was remarkable reaching a population of 1,500 by 1860.  By 1875 that number had settled to about 800.  A learning “Academy” was established in 1857 for the Prairie City kids by a local church and was supported by the town’s people.  This idea soon went to the wayside and the school building was used for public school purposes.  A high school curriculum was established in Prairie City by the late 1800s.

Prairie City High School served the community quite proudly for about six decades.  It was at some point in the early 1950s that the communities of Bushnell and Prarie City decided to pool there educational resources.  This effort was realized in 1952. It was then that Prarie City High School closed and the Bushnell-Prairie City School District was opened.

Prairie City continued providing education for the kids in their town as this summary of events by Marc Young explains the use of the school building after the high school was closed:

“Even though the High School classes were relocated to Bushnell as a result of the Bushnell-Prairie City (B-PC) consolidation in or around 1953, The school remained as the Prairie City Elementary School grades 1 thru 8 until 1962. Grades 7 & 8 then relocated to the B-PC Jr. High School (the former Bushnell High School bldg. in Bushnell. Grades 1 thru 6 remained until the early 1970’s, about 1974 if my memory serves me correctly.”

The original Praire City High School building, once so full of life, sadly has been torn down.

Prairie City High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                                  late 1800s

Year closed:                                   1952

Consolidated to:                              Bushnell-Prairie City School District

Prairie City HS team nickname:        the “Cobras”

PCHS team colors:                          Blue & White

PCHS yearbook:                             “The Prairie Rambler”

School Fight Song:                          unavailable


Prairie City High School enjoyed some nice success in boys basketball.  We are confident that baseball and track, possibly even football, were offered at the school.  Team nickname, team colors, school fight song, coaches names, and team records of the better PCHS teams are all being sought.

Boys Basketball

The Prairie City High School basketball program came into its own in the early 1940s with back to back to back District titles from 1941-42 through 1943-44.  Unfortunately we do not have the records of these or any other great Prairie City HS teams.

1941-42          District Champions                Coach Ronald “Connie” Conn

1942-43          District Champions                Coach Ronald “Connie” Conn

Prairie City Is Among Leading Prep Teams – 1942-43

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Submitted by Beau Spencer / Cobras were 10 – 0 at the time

1943-44          District Champions                Coach Ronald “Connie” Conn

Need Your In-Put

The great stories of Prairie City High School and its many successes may be fading fast.  We need your help to record them and share them with others before they are lost forever.  If you have a photo of the high school building and/or other activities by the students please e-mail them to us at .  You can also write to us at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il. 60631

Prairie City High School Class of 1935
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Courtesy of Marc H. Young
Prairie City HS Bldg 1912
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Courtesy of John Bybee

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