In honor of Christmas coming up next week I thought I’d feature a couple of blessed Midwestern roadside attractions. First up is an Illinois roadside attraction most Illinoisans can recognize from (almost literally) a mile away: the Cross at the Crossroads – America’s Largest Cross in Effingham, Illinois.
This huge cross is made of over 180 tons of steel and stands tall at at 198 feet high and 113 feet wide. It can be found at he intersection of Interstates 57 & 70 in Effingham, Illinois. It truly is “the cross at the crossroads.” Built at this major road it’s estimated that 50,000 travelers see the cross in Effingham each and every day.
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When was the Effingham cross built?
Construction on the cross was completed in July 2001. A dedication ceremony was held in September of that year, five days after the New York City terrorist attacks. The cross was lit with four 1,000-watt bulbs that night.
Is the Effingham cross the largest cross in the world?
While some still call this roadside attraction the “World’s Largest Cross,” it actually falls many feet short of the record. So where is the largest cross in the world? Valle de los Caídos in Spain. At this Spanish Catholic basilica there is a granite cross measuring 150 metres high (500 feet) that is visible from over 20 miles away.
Is the giant cross in Effingham, IL, the largest cross in America?
Yes! While the Cross at the Crossroads might not hold the world record, it is certainly the largest cross in America. It was purposely built at 198 feet tall to beat out the 196 foot tall giant cross in Groom, Texas, while being under 200 feet tall. According to FAA regulations, the cross would have needed a light on top if it was 200 feet tall or taller.
At the base of the cross in Illinois are ten rock-shaped stone tablets that recite the Ten Commandments at the push of a button.
Be sure to cross this off your roadside attraction bucket list on your next road trip through Illinois.
Looking for more crosses on your path? Check out the Bald Knob Cross of Peace in nearby Alto Pass and the Giant Cross in La Follette, Tennessee.
The Cross at the Crossroads — America’s Largest Cross
Location: 1900 Pike Ave, Effingham, IL (at the intersection of Interstates 57 & 70)
Cost: Free to see.
Hours: Always visible.
Date: May 9, 2008