Information about Illinois for each letter of the alphabet.
Click on highlighted word for more information.
A IS FOR AGRICULTURE, AMISH, & ARCHAEOLOGY
The Amish way of life largely revolves around working and socializing together as a family and community. Arthur is the heart of Illinois Amish Country. The Amish Museum in Arcola has exhibits that focus on Amish religion and lifestyle. Amish country tours are available.
Illinois celebrates ARCHAEOLOGY Awareness Month in September and has educational programs. There are many Archaeological Sites in Illinois, and stone weapons from 12,000 B.C. have been found. Some sites are on the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois The Chahokia Mounds is the largest archaeology site related to the Mississippian culture. It is also one of the few World Heritage Sites in the country. The Center for American Archaeology is dedicated to the exploration of the cultures of prehistoric Native Americans.
Illinois has a wide variety of A wide variety of BIRDS. Over 284 species of birds can be found at Horseshoe Lake. The State Bird is the Northern Cardinal. Some birds are endangered. Bird watching is popular and there are Birding Clubs and Birding Hotspots and many Birding Trails.
Illinois has many BRIDGES including Covered Bridges and Suspension Bridges. There are also many Historic Bridges. The BP Pedestrian Bridge is described as snakelike because of its curving form. The Joe Page Bridge is said to be the longest bridge in the state. The Pomona Natural Bridge in the Shawnee National Forest is made entirely of sandstone.
Illinois has all forms of communication including newspapers, magazines, television, radio, telephone, and internet. There are many telephone area codes. Internet Service Providers are located throughout the state. There are many Webcams located throughout Illinois.
Illinois has 102 COUNTIES and most were names after people. The largest county is McLean and Hardin is the smallest. Cook has the largest population and Pope has the smallest. The term "county" is used in 48 of the 50 states for the level of government below the state government. The state has more units of government than any other state.
The American Folk DANCE of Illinois is the Square Dance. The State Council of Illinois Square Dance Association provides information about square dancing in Illinois. The state has Square Dance Callers, Clubs and organizations. There is a Square Dance Festival in DeKalb.
Evidence of DINOSAURS has not been found in Illinois, but a variety of has been found. The Mason Creek Fossil Beds near Morris were formed approximately 300 million years ago. The State Fossil is the Tully Monster. The Field Museum in Chicago is the home of Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil skeleton currently known.
Public EDUCATION is provided free in Illinois. School attendance is compulsory from age 6-16. The Illinois State Board of Education oversees education in the state. There are also many Private Schools and homeschooling is popular. Information about schools in Illinois is available at Schoolbug and Great Schools.
Illinois has many special EVENTS throughout the year including Food Festivals and Arts and Craft Fairs. A State Fair is held in Springfield and there are many County Fairs. The Chicago Air & Water Show is the largest free show of its kind in the country. The state celebrates Public Holidays and other special days.
The Illinois State Flag is a representation of the Great Seal of the state. There are some municipal and county flags. The 4 stars on the Chicago flag represent Fort Dearborn, the Chicago Fire, The World's Columbian Exposition, and the Century of Progress exposition.
The FOOD timeline of Illinois shows that Native Americans, European settlers, and the Industrial Revolution all played important roles in shaping the foods of the state. The state has Food Festivals, Shows, and events. More than 2/3 of the Horseradish grown in the county comes from Illinois, and there is a Horseradish Festival. Although the "hot dog" was not invented in the United States, the first ones were served at the 1898 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Goldrush Apple is the State Fruit and Popcorn is the State Snack Food. Cracker Jack and Twinkies were invented in Illinois. Chicago-Style Pizza was invented - guess where? - in Chicago. Various places claim to have originated the "ice cream sundae" including Evanston. The Nabisco Factory in Chicago is the largest bakery in the world.
Illinois has had many FORTS. Some forts have markers or monuments. Some have been made into State Parks, and a few have been reconstructed. Fort Massac State Park has a replica of the 1802 American fort that was on site. Fort de Chartres is the last of three 18th century forts by that name and some building have been restored or reconstructed. The limestone powder magazine is considered to be the oldest building in the state. Each June the fort plays host to a Rendezvous that is said to be one of the largest and oldest in the country celebrating frontier French and Indian culture. The Fort Massac site was made a State Park - the first Illinois state park. A replica of the old Fort has been built. Each fall, reenactors gather for the Fort Massac Encampment, interpreting life in the 18th century. A visitor center contains a museum with Indian artifacts, wax figures in period clothing, and other exhibits. Their are mysterious stone forts in Southern Illinois.
The GLOBAL POSITION of Illinois ranges from 36-42 degrees north Latitude and 87-91 degrees west Longitude. Logan is the geographic center of the state. The topographyof the state ranges from 27 ft to 1,235 ft. The highest point is Charles Mound and the lowest point is the Mississippi River. Geocaching is high-tech treasure hunt using a Global Positioning System, and there are many geocaches in Illinois.
The HISTORY Illinois dates back to the pre-Columbian period, followed by the era of European exploration and colonization, and its development as part of the American frontier. Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first Europeans of record to visit the area. The state was involved in the CIVIL WAR. The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War Museum in Springfield has artifacts of that time. Illinois participates in National History Day.
Illinois has over 300 ISLANDS Most of them are on the Mississippi River. Some of them are on the Directory of U.S. Islands because they have a ham radio. The Rock Island Arsenal is between the cities of Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois. Goose Island is an artificial island and the only island on the Chicago River in the state.
The JUDICIARY Systemof Illinois is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. It is divided into 3 main branches - The Supreme Court, the Appelate Court, and the Circuit Court. The Supreme Court oversees the administration of the court system. The Illinois Court of Claims decides all monetary claims against the government. Some judges are elected while others are appointed.
Many aspects of life in Illinois focus on KIDS and the state has a special Illinois Kid Zone. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources each have a Kids Page. Agriculture in the Classroom has information about agriculture in the state.
Public LIBRARIES are located throughout Illinois. The Chicago Public Library is the 9th largest public library in the country. The State Library is in Springfield. Illinois has a Poet Laureate and celebrates National Poetry Month.
Illinois has several LIGHTHOUSES. The Grosse Point lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark.The Chicago Harbor Lightwas constructed in 1893 for the World's Columbian Exposition and moved to its present site in 1919. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A variety of MUSEUMS are located throughout Illinois. The Illinois State Museum is in Springfield. The Midway Village and Museum Center has museums of times-gone-by. The Museum of Science and Industry has some unique exhibits.
The First inhabitants of what is now Illinois were NATIVE AMERICANS - Paleo Indians and they can be studied at the Modock Rock Shelter in Randolph County. Woodland Indians were their descendants. By AD 900, Middle Mississippi Indians built large earthen mounds and developed complex urban areas. Dickson Mounds Indian Museum near Lewiston features special exhibits which chronicle the Indian's valuable place in Illinois history. At one time several tribes lived in the state. In the 1830s they were relocated and today they chiefly reside in Oklahoma as the Peoria Tribe of Indians. The American Indian Center in Chicago has an annual powwow.
Illinois is part of the Old West (the area west of the Mississippi River in the 1800s). The state has Cowboys and Cowgirls and celebrates the National Day of the Cowboy. Several rodeos are held throughout the year. Horseback riding is popular and the state has many horse trails. The Old West comes alive at Donley's Wild West Town in Union.
Illinois has nearly 13,000 PEOPLE and it is the 5th most populous state in the country. People who come from the state are called Illinoisians and their nicknames have included Sand-hillers, Egyptians and, Suckers. Many wellknown People have called Illinois their home including Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States. The Iowa Hall of Pride celebrates the accomplishments of all Iowans.
Because of its location in the central part of the country, Illinois has a large variety of REPTILES and amphibians including salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles, lizards and snakes. The state has 4 kinds of poisonous snakes. The largest educational Reptile and Amphibian Show in the country is held in Chicago.
Illinois has a number of RIVERS. The major rivers are the Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, and Wabash. The Wabash River separates the south half of the state from Indiana, and the Ohio River forms the border between the southern tip of the state and Kentucky. In 1887, engineers began to reverse the flow of the Chicago River and was completed in 1900. It is the only river that flows backward. Middle Fork Vermilion River is designated a National Wild and Scenic River. American Rivers is an organization that protects & restores river systems in the country.
Illinois has a variety of TRAILS including Biking Trails and Hiking Trails. The Starved Rock Trail is one of the best in Illinois. The state participates in National Trails Day. The state has several Byways and Scenic Drives and unique Roadside Attractions. Route 66 was one of the most famous routes in the country and the Route 66 Hall of Fame is in Pontiac.
Illinois has all forms of TRANSPORTATION. The Illinois Department of Transportation provides information about transportation in the state and has an Adopt-a-Highway Program. The state has the highest number of personalized license plates in the country. The Federal Highway Administration provides traffic and road closure information. To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Matchbox Cars issued a vehicle for each state. The vehicle for for Illinois was the International Fire Pumper.
Illinois has many species of TREES and over 100 Big Trees including 4 that have set national records. The Shawnee National Forest has waterfalls, lakes, ponds, and rock streams. Fernwood State Forest has hiking, fishing, and camping. The State Tree is the White Oak. Illinois FORESTS are part of the Eastern Broadleaf Forests.
Four ships of the United States Navy have been named USS Illinois. The 1st USS Illinois (sloop), a screw sloop-of war, was laid down but never completed. The 2nd USS Illinois (BB-7) was lead ship of her class of battleship, served for over half a century and was eventually renamed Prairie State. The 3rd USS Illinois was a diesel-powered trawler acquired by the Navy, renamed USS Albatross (AM-71), and employed as a minesweeper. The 4th USS Illinois (BB-65) would have been an Iowa-class battleship but her construction was cancelled before she was launched. The USS Illinois (SSN-786) is a planned Virginia-class submarine.
Illinois does not have any VOLCANOES but there is evidence of volcanoes existing in the state 500 million years ago. Volcanoes in other parts of the world have an impact on the climate in the state.
Illinois has many species of WILDLIFE and 7 Wildlife Refuges. The State Animal is the White-Tailed Deer. There are several threatened and endangered species in the state. The Wildlife Prairie State Park has 50 species native to the state. Willowbrook Wildlife Center is an education center and rehabilitation center. The Fish and Wildlife Service works to conserve, protect, and enhance, fish,wildlife, and plants and their habitats. Illinois has a Wildlife Action Plan.
Time ZONES are established by the Coordinated Universal Time, The United States has several time ZONES. Illinois is in the Central Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time. The state has several Plant Hardiness Zones.
Illinois has many ZOOS. There are 2 zoos in the Chicago area. The Brookfield Zoo is the largest zoo in the state and the Lincoln Park Zoo is the oldest public zoo in the county. The Shedd Aquarium is the largest indoor aquarium in the world.