Do You Know What You’ll Find if You Travel to the Center of Illinois?
Have you ever wondered where the center of the state of Illinois is located? I did, and this is what I found out about the geographical center of Illinois.
Middle America is a term used to refer to the United States heartland, typically the lower Midwestern region of the country. The included states are Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska.
The Geographical Middle of America
My search for the center of Illinois started with wanting to know the middle of the U.S. The middle of the contiguous 48 states, including the District of Columbia, is about 2.6 miles northwest of Lebanon, Kansas.
GPS Coordinates for the Middle of America 39°50′N 98°35′W
So, where is the middle of the Land of Lincoln? As I searched for the details, I assumed Illinois' center would be in a small town's downtown area. I was half right.
The small town is Chestnut, Illinois with a population of around 250.
The Geographical Center of Illinois
According to RoadsideAmerica.com, we have the efforts of Gary Calvert in the early 1990s to thank for this journey to the 'commemorative' center of Illinois in the town of Chestnut.
Calvert got a large map of Illinois, criss-crossed it with fishing line, and the lines converged near the hamlet of Chestnut. He then contacted the Illinois State Geological Survey, and to his delight found that their calculations were similar to his own.
Calvert traveled to Chestnut, showed them his official Illinois State Geological Survey letter, and convinced the tiny community that it needed a monument.
Here is the monument that we wouldn't have if not for Gary's curiosity and his salesmanship.
I love this aerial photo. Amongst those trees in the bottom right of the photos is where the monument is located.
The monument marks the center of Illinois but it's not the actual center, that spot is in the middle of a bean field. They found a much better spot just off the highway that runs through the middle of Chestnut, in a park near the southwest corner of Melvin Street and East Olive Street.
Check out this news video from the late '90s