Monday, May 29, 2023
Total solar eclipse in Johnson County. Photo by Lonnie Hinton.

Total Solar Eclipse attracts thousands to county

Monday’s partial solar eclipse over Johnson County. Photo by Lonnie Hinton.

Johnson County was host to as many as 10,000 or more visitors from across the country, and world, Monday, August 21, 2017 for the viewing of the ‘Total Solar Eclipse Across America’. The once-in-a-lifetime event has not been witnessed in this region for more than 100 years.

At the Vienna City Park Depot Welcome Center, visitors that signed the guest registry came from nearly every state in the country, including Hawaii. There were also visitors signing in from Poland, Germany, England and Vienna, Austria.

It was estimated 1,600 or more were at the city park, 300 or so at the Vienna Ball Park, and over 100 on the courthouse lawn on the square.

The Village of Goreville welcomed nearly 4,000 visitors to the village park for the total solar eclipse Monday, August 21.

Visitors at the park came from Poland, Germany, Italy, England, Canada, and Panama; with state-side visitors coming from Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Mississippi, California and Ohio.

Mason Ramsey, front left, took a break from entertaining the visitors at the Vienna City Park to observe the solar eclipse with his family. Mason, also known as Little Hank, performed prior to the total eclipse. Photo by Lonnie Hinton.

Visitors commented on how nice the people were, how nice and clean Goreville is, and how organized everything was for them to experience the eclipse.

The University of Illinois had approximately 500 people at the school for a VIP experience. Many of those walked to the park and visited vendors.

Southernmost Illinois Transit worked with the Village of Goreville to run bus routes to help move visitors around town.

The girl scouts sold water in the park.

Andrew Rodgers, owner of Ink Spot t-shirt sales, brought 220 shirts to the park and sold out in 30 minutes.

Residents of Autumn Ridge Supportive Living in Vienna got in on the action, witnessing the total solar eclipse across America from the Convenience of the facility’s front patio. Photo provided.

Adam Kirby reported great cooperation on his property, meeting his expectations of providing parking to people.

Pastor Ron Null of the First Pentecostal Church reported a great day, meeting their expectations, and pleased with the cooperation of the community and all their attendees.

Village board member and Univeristy of Illinois Extension director Jody Johnson said, “In light of recent news events that show humanity at its worst, it was refreshing to see humanity come together from around the world in our little town and enjoy a miraculous event without any incidents – one we hope to host again in April 2024!”

These numbers do not include visitors who watched the eclipse from private properties of friends or family.

Johnson County ESDA Coordinator Jim Haney said in Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting the popluation of the county double on that day.

Local officials were not sure what to expect prior to the event. But it all seemed to happen without any problems in the county.

This photo, taken from the sidewalk in front of The Vienna Times office, shows a different angle of the solar eclipse during totality. Photo by Dave Jordano, Chicago.

However, it was a different story afterwards on major roadways to the north. Traffic was reported backed up bumper-to-bumper for as much as 15-20 miles in some areas of Illinois.

The Vienna Times welcomes photos from the public to be included in upcoming issues. They can be sent via email to