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Portal:Illinois Article

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The Illinois Portal

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Illinois ( /ˌɪlɪˈnɔɪ/ ( About this sound listen) IL-ih-NOY) is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is the 6th-most populous U.S. state and 25th-largest state in terms of land area, and is often noted as a microcosm of the entire United States. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in northern and central Illinois, and natural resources such as coal, timber, and petroleum in the south, Illinois has a diverse economic base, and is a major transportation hub. The Port of Chicago connects the state to other global ports around the world from the Great Lakes, via the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the Atlantic Ocean; as well as the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River, via the Illinois Waterway on the Illinois River. The Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Wabash River form parts of the boundaries of Illinois. For decades, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport has been ranked as one of the world's busiest airports. Illinois has long had a reputation as a bellwether both in social and cultural terms and, through the 1980s, in politics.

The capital of Illinois is Springfield in the central part of the state. Although today the state's largest population center is in and around Chicago in the northeastern part of the state, the state's European population grew first in the west, with French who settled along the Mississippi River and gave the area the name Illinois Country. After the American Revolutionary War established the United States, American settlers began arriving from Kentucky in the 1780s via the Ohio River, and the population grew from south to north. In 1818, Illinois achieved statehood. After construction of the Erie Canal increased traffic and trade through the Great Lakes, Chicago was founded in the 1830s on the banks of the Chicago River, at one of the few natural harbors on southern Lake Michigan. John Deere's invention of the self-scouring steel plow turned Illinois's rich prairie into some of the world's most productive and valuable farmland, attracting immigrant farmers from Germany and Sweden. The Illinois and Michigan Canal (1848) made transportation between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River valley faster and cheaper. New railroads carried immigrants to new homes, as well as being used to ship commodity crops to Eastern markets. The state became a transportation hub for the nation.

Selected article

The observation car (rear) end of the Pioneer Zephyr as seen at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

The Pioneer Zephyr is a diesel-powered railroad train formed of railroad cars permanently articulated together with Jacobs bogies, built by the Budd Company in 1934 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q), commonly known as the Burlington. The train featured extensive use of stainless steel, was originally named the Zephyr, and was meant as a promotional tool to advertise passenger rail service in the United States. The construction included innovations such as shotwelding (a specialized type of spot welding) to join the stainless steel, and articulation to reduce its weight.

On May 26, 1934 it set a speed record for travel between Denver, Colorado, and Chicago, Illinois, when it made a 1,015-mile (1,633 km) non-stop "Dawn-to-Dusk" dash in 13 hours 5 minutes at an average speed of 77 mph (124 km/h). For one section of the run it reached a speed of 112.5 mph (181 km/h), just short of the then US land speed record of 115 mph (185 km/h). The historic dash inspired two films and the train's nickname, " Silver Streak". ( Read more...)

Selected biography

Wild Bill Hickok

James Butler Hickok—known as "Wild Bill" Hickok—was a folk character of the American Old West. Although some of his exploits as reported at the time were fictionalized, his skills as a gunfighter and gambler, along with his reputation as a lawman, provided the basis for his enduring fame. Born and raised on a farm near Troy Grove, Illinois, Hickok went west at age 18 as a fugitive from justice, first working as a stagecoach driver, then as a lawman in the frontier territories of Kansas and Nebraska. He fought and spied for the Union Army during the American Civil War and gained publicity after the war as a scout, marksman, actor, and professional gambler. Hickok was involved in several notable shootouts. He was shot from behind and killed while playing poker in a saloon in Deadwood, Dakota Territory (now South Dakota) by an unsuccessful gambler, Jack McCall. The card hand he held at the time of his death (aces and eights) has come to be known as the " Dead Man's Hand".

( Read more...)

Did you know...

12-1257-miniatures-chandelier-chicago-museum-art.jpg
Spot-winged Glider - Pantala hymenaea, Bles Park, Ashburn, Virginia - 7680788092.jpg
  • ... that Chicago alderman Dorsey Crowe survived falling 800 feet (240 m) from a plane and being thrown through the roof of a car?
  • ... that the spot-winged glider (pictured) is a migratory dragonfly?



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