20 (Suspicious and Somewhat Useless) Facts About Illinois
Unofficial Motto: “Speed limit? What speed limit?"

Dan Van Oss American States, Complete Columns, History 0 Comments

1

Official Motto: “State Sovereignty, National Union”
Unofficial Motto: “Speed limit? What speed limit?”

2

The Illinois state song is entitled “Illinois,” a long, meandering song whose only word appears to be “Illinois”. Since it was ratified in 1925, no one has ever been able to finish singing it.

3

Metropolis, the home of Superman, really exists in Southern Illinois, which explains why the Fortress of Solitude is a Big John’s grocery store on East 5th Street.

4

Because of spelling challenges, Illinois went through two capital cities, Kaskaskia and Vandalia, before landing in Springfield.

5

Illinois has more personalized license plates than any other state, most of which are some variation of “PACKSUX”.

6

The first nuclear fission reactor, consisting of graphite bricks and uranium lumps, was activated under the football stadium at the University of Chicago by Enrico Fermi in 1942. The uranium lumps eventually became the offensive line for the championship 1943 Chicago Bears team, while the graphite bricks were recycled as aldermen.

7

The largest man-made lake in Illinois is in Carlyle. It is 68 feet wide and 2,496 feet deep.

8

Illinois’ highest point is at Charles Mound at 1235 feet above sea level. It’s lowest point is occasionally at Soldier Field on the 1 yard line.

9

The first round, steel silo for storage of silage on farms was built in 1893 and exhibited at Chicago’s Columbia Exposition. Previous silos had been constructed of straw and wood and were susceptible to wolves.

10

The Official Dance of Illinois is square dancing, but, curiously, it is only allowed in round silos.

11

The University of Illinois Conservatory has an apex which is 37 feet high. This giant beast is occasionally released into the wild where it can frolic with pinnacles and apogees.

12

The Mercantile Exchange building in Chicago was built without an internal steel skeleton, depending on its thick walls to keep itself upright. It sheepishly complains that it is all just “water weight”.

13

All the trains that pass through Chicago’s underground freight system set end to end would extend over ten miles in length, which is the exact length needed to keep you from getting to work on time.

14

It is illegal for boys in Mount Pulaski to hurl snowballs at trees, which accounts for the unusual amount of tree-shaped boys Mount Pulaski girls report seeing each winter.

15

The Chicago Public Library is the world’s largest public library and features a collection of more than 2 million books, most of them about Michael Jordan.

16

The world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885. However, according to court testimony, it did not “scrape” the sky, it only “grazed” it, because “it was talking smack about my girlfriend.”

17

The Illinois state reptile is the Painted Turtle. Each year, over 15,000 public school second graders are called on to assist in the annual Painting of The State Reptile.

18

Illinois’ state soil is “Drummer Silty Clay Loam”, which is, coincidentally, also the name of the original drummer for REO Speedwagon.

19

The Chicago Post Office at 433 West Van Buren is the only postal facility in the world through which you can drive a car. Unfortunately, you can only do this once, as your car is invariably re-routed to a Dead Mail Center in Skokie and lost.

20

The ice cream “sundae” was named in Evanston after Gustavius Sundae, the patron saint of maraschino cherries.

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