Carbondale is a city in Jackson and Williamson Counties, Illinois, United States, within the Southern Illinois region informally known as "Little Egypt". The city developed from 1853 because of the stimulation of railroad construction into the area. Today the major roadways of Illinois Route 13 and U.S. Route 51 intersect in the city. The city is 96 miles (154 km) southeast of St. Louis, Missouri, on the northern edge of the Shawnee National Forest. Carbondale is the home of the main campus of Southern Illinois University (SIU). The city is the most populous in Southern Illinois outside the St. Louis Metro-East region, and the most populous city in the Carbondale-Marion-Herrin, Illinois Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 25,902, and it is the state's 20th-most-populated city outside the Chicago Metropolitan Area. In addition, the CSA has 126,575 residents, the sixth-most-populous combined statistical area in Illinois.
Cape Girardeau (, French: Cap-Girardeau [kap ʒiʁaʁdo] (listen); colloquially referred to as "Cape") is a city in Cape Girardeau and Scott Counties in the U.S. state of Missouri. At the 2020 census, the population was 39,540, with the surrounding metropolitan area totaling 134,051 residents in 2019. The city is the economic center of Southeast Missouri and also an emerging college town as the home of Southeast Missouri State University. It is located approximately 100 miles (161 km) southeast of St. Louis and 150 miles (241 km) north of Memphis.
Williamson County is a county in Southern Illinois. At the 2020 census, it had a population of 67,153. The largest city and county seat is Marion.Williamson County is included in the Carbondale-Marion, IL Metropolitan Statistical Area. This area of Southern Illinois is known locally as "Little Egypt". Williamson is a rapidly growing county in the Metro Lakeland area and is located 88 miles (142 km) southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. Via the nearby intersection of Interstates 57 and 24, and Illinois Route 13, a primary east-west four-lane expressway, the city easily has access to the major communities of Murphysboro, Carbondale, Carterville, Herrin, Marion and Harrisburg. The Metro Lakeland area of Jackson-Williamson counties has a total of 120,000 residents. Carbondale (14 miles west), Herrin and Marion are the key urban areas in Metro Lakeland, with a combined population of more than 65,000. Over 235,000 people live within 35 miles (56 km).
Paducah () is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. The largest city in the Jackson Purchase region, it is located at the confluence of the Tennessee and the Ohio rivers, halfway between St. Louis, Missouri, to the northwest and Nashville, Tennessee, to the southeast. The population was 24,865 in 2019, down slightly from 25,024 during the 2010 U.S. Census. Twenty blocks of the city's downtown have been designated as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Paducah is the hub of its micropolitan area, which includes McCracken, Ballard and Livingston counties in Kentucky and Massac County in Illinois.