The History of Watson High School
Watson (population 729) is located in south-central Effingham County about six miles south of the city of Effingham. The road leading into Watson is Illinois Route 37. Two major roadways, Interstate Highway 57 and U.S. Route 45, run to the west and east of Watson respectively. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad cuts through the center of town as does a branch of the Salt Creek. The town is named after an executive, George Watson, of the Illinois Central Railroad which passed through the area in the 1860s.
The amount of information regarding Watson sparse. It is known that Watson at one time supported its own high school. The origin of the high school, or any schooling in Watson, is not available. The last mention of the school on the IHSA web site (www.IHSA.org) is of the boys basketball team of 1945. A guess would be that Watson probably closed in the late 1940s as many small town schools did.
Jane Rios, who provided the photo of the Watson High School building above and the photo of the WHS basketball team of 1940-41 below, had this to add regarding Watson High School:
“My father attended Watson High School when it was a 3-year high school. His last year there was 1940-41 after which he attended Effingham High School for his senior year. He did play basketball at Watson. The photo below is of him and his team during his junior year (1940-41). In the photo of the basketball team my father, Richard W. “Dick” Loy, is in the front row to the far left.
The school building remained active as a grade school through the 1977-78 school year. Today only the gymnasium remains and has been sided over.”
The children of Watson now attend school as part of the Effingham School System. The fate of the original Watson school building appears to be a good one. On the north side of Watson sits the building pictured at the top of this page. It appears to be an older school building protected by aluminum siding. The building and gym are now known as the Watson Civic Center.
Watson High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s?
Year closed: 1945?
School nickname: “Bulldogs”
School colors: unavailable
School Fight Song: unavailable