Mount Carmel, IL
Mount Carmel is a city in and the county seat of Wabash County, Illinois, United States. At the time of the 2000 census, the population was 7,982, while the next largest town in Wabash County is Allendale, population 528. Located at the confluence of the Wabash, Patoka, and White Rivers, Mount Carmel borders both Gibson and Knox counties of Indiana. A small community known informally as East Mount Carmel sits near the mouth of the Patoka River on the opposite (Gibson County) side of the Wabash River from Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of the Forest of the Wabash, a National Natural Landmark within Beall Woods State Park and about a mile north-northeast of one of its main employers, the Gibson Generating Station. Mount Carmel is also the home of Wabash Valley College, part of the Community College System of Eastern Illinois.
Mount Carmel lost 270 jobs in 2003 to the closing of a Snap-on Tools factory that had been in operation since 1937. However, the town has an unemployment rate of just 4.6%, as of May 2006. The situation has substantially improved since 1992, when the unemployment rate peaked as high as 15.1%. However, the town incurred another significant loss. On April 5, 2007, Foundation Coal Holdings, Inc., of Linthicum Heights, Maryland, announced plans to close the Wabash Mine in nearby Keensburg, Illinois, meaning a loss of nearly 230 jobs in Wabash County.
Duke Energy's Gibson Generating Station is the nearest employer of substantial size. The Gibson County, Indiana power plant is located less than a mile away from Mount Carmel, directly across the river. It is the third-largest coal power plant in the world, and the ninth largest power plant in the United States. Its pollution has prompted considerable debate, partially because of repeated incidents where the plant created a blue toxic cloud after adding new emissions control systems.