Mattoon is a city in Coles County, Illinois, United States. It is a principal city of the CharlestonMattoon Micropolitan Statistical Area. Early settlers from the South lived in forested areas along the headwaters of the Little Wabash River to the southwest of the present town. They distrusted the prairie, which they saw as the source of fevers. The two railroads raced to the meeting point, on the understanding that the first to arrive would not have to pay to maintain the crossing. Local settlers marked out the plots for sale with pegs, and the village was originally known as "Pegtown."