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Rantoul is a village in Champaign County, Illinois, United States. The population was 12,941 at the 2010 census.
The community was named after Robert Rantoul, Jr., a U.S. representative from Massachusetts, and a director of the Illinois Central Railroad.
Rantoul was laid out in 1854 for the Illinois Central Railroad by John Penfield. A post office was established in 1856 as Rantoul Station; the name was changed to Rantoul in May 1862.
In 1917, Rantoul was chosen by the United States Army to be the site of Chanute Field, due to its proximity to the Illinois Central railroad and the War Department’s ground school at the University of Illinois. In the 1930s, Chanute Field grew, dominating the local economy as thousands of airmen were stationed there to train recruits. Renamed Chanute Air Force Base after World War II, it was closed in 1993, but was partly reoccupied by the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, which was permanently closed on December 30, 2015, and the Rantoul National Aviation Center. Rantoul's economy has taken a sharp decline due to the base's closing, from which it has never recovered. The book Eye of the Storm: Chanute Closes by Katy B. Podagrosi tells the story of this period.
Rantoul is located at 40°18′17″N 88°9′7″W (40.304600, -88.152070).
According to the 2010 census, Rantoul has a total area of 8.259 square miles (21.39 km2), of which 8.15 square miles (21.11 km2) (or 98.68%) is land and 0.109 square miles (0.28 km2) (or 1.32%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,857 people, 5,330 households, and 3,367 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,776.5 people per square mile (685.7/km²).
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