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                   Illinois Geography

  Online Field Trip

            Illinois Geography studies almost always begin with "What is the Capital?"

Illinois Capital

Do you know the capital of Illinois?

Let me ask my daugther and see if she remembers....she says it is, "Springfield."  And she is RIGHT! Now, she is asking me what the capital of Turkey is.... Rats! I don't know. Something else for me to look up later. For now, let's discover what we can about Illinois. Forget yucky, boring facts. Let's have some fun.

If you are interested in what other visitors have shared about Illinois or want to share about your favorite Illinois places or events follow the link or scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Illinois Geography: Festivals and Fairs

Besides the normal things like county and state fairs, Illinois has some fun festivals. There is the Apple Festival in Murphysboro, a Peach Festival in Cobden, a Superman Festival in Metropolis, a Popeye Festival in Chester, a Ketchup Festival in Collinsville, Balloon Fests  in Centralia and Carbondale and a Corn Fest in Dekalb, to name a few.

Here is a link to a blog that talks about the Popoye Festival and a Balloon Fest as possible field trips and has some really nice pictures.

The DeKalb Corn Fest is hailed as the last free musical festival in Illinois. Held over three days, it includes a carnival with rides and food and music. Sounds like fun. Maybe next year we'll go. After all I need to have pictures to put up here for you. 

The Ketchup Festival is a mix of hot dogs, ketchup, classic cars and music. The link is to a page with several pictures.  If you have a slow connection and still want information about this festival, try this link. This festival is in Collinsville. The picture on the right is their water tower. Isn't it awesome.

Springfield and Duquoin both hold Illinois State Fairs.  Both are in August and it usually is hot and sticky but a lot of fun anyway.  Who can resist cotton candy, taffy, free pencils and bags and carnival games and rides? I did, but my sense of adventure and taste was piqued by the fried, chocolate covered twinkie.  If you get a chance, try them. They are pretty good.  See recipe below.

Illinois Geography: Exploring Nature

In Southern Illinois there are many places to go to explore and to learn about nature. Here is a list of a few of those places. If you have a story or another place from anywhere in Illinois about nature, send me your story and permission to use and you may find it here soon afterward. Thanks.

Shawnee National Forest
Crab Orchard Wild Life Refuge
Giant City
Rend Lake
Ferne Cliff
Garden of the Gods

Illinois Geography: Landforms

Highest Summit

Charles Mound is the highest summit of Illinois.


  • Big Blue Island
  • Campbell's Island
  • Carroll Island
  • Chouteau
  • Goose Island
  • Arsenal


  • Apple Canyon Lake
  • Lake Calumet
  • Carlyle Lake
  • Cedar Lake
  • Clinton Lake
  • Devils Kitchen Lake
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Kinkaid Lake
  • Lake Egypt
  • Lake Michigan (Also extends into Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.)
  • Rend Lake

Illinois Geography: Cities and Towns

Main Streets

Let's take a peek at some Illinois communities. From small towns to large cities, here are a few examples of what they look like.

      Carbondale                                 Urbana                               Makanda     

Illinois Geography Carbondale                 Illinois Geography Urbana         Makanda
WikiMedia Xjmbi                                                         WikiMedia Daniel Schwen                                  WikiMedia

      Dixon                                                               Fisher                                                        Harrisburg

Dixon, Illinois                     Illinois Geography Fisher, Illinois                           Harrisburg, Illinois    WikiMedia  IvoShandor                                          WikiMedia Dual Freq                                                    WikiMedia  Ruhe1986              

Illinois Geography: Counties

Illinois Geography Counties

Below is a list of the 102 counties in Illinois along with their County Seats.

What is a County Seat?

The County Seat is a city in the county that serves as a hub for the county's government. A few states may have counties with more than one County Seat. Does Illinois have any counties with more than one County Seat?

Illinois Geography: Counties and their County Seat

Adams County- County Seat Quincy, Illinois
Alexander County- County Seat Cairo
Bond County- County Seat Greenville
Boone County-County Seat Belvidere
Brown County-County Seat Mount Sterling
Bureau County-County Seat Princeton
Calhoun County-County Seat Hardin
Carroll County-County Seat Mount Carroll
Cass County-County Seat Virginia
Champaign County-County Seat Urbana
Christian County-County Seat Taylorville
Clark County-County Seat Marshall
Clay County-County Seat Louisville
Clinton County-County Seat Carlyle
Coles County-County Seat Charleston
Cook County-County Seat Chicago
Crawford County-County Seat Robinson
Cumberland County-County Seat Toledo
De Witt County-County Seat Clinton
DeKalb County-County Seat Sycamore
Douglas County-County Seat Tuscola
DuPage County -County Seat Wheaton
Edgar County-County Seat Paris
Edwards County-County Seat Albion
Effingham County -County Seat Effingham
Fayette County-County Seat Vandalia
Ford County-County Seat Paxton
Franklin County-County Seat Lewiston
Gallatin County -County Seat Shawneetown
Greene County-County Seat Carrollton
Grundy County-County Seat Morris
Hamilton County -County Seat McLeansboro
Hancock-County Seat Carthage
Hardin County-County Seat Elizabethtown
Henderson County-County Seat Oquawka
Henry County-County Seat Cambridge
Iroquois County-County Seat Watseka
Jackson County-County Seat Murphysboro
Jasper County-County Seat Newton
Jefferson County-County Seat Mount Vernon
Jersey County-County Seat Jerseyville
Jo Daviess County- County SeatGalena
Johnson County-County Seat Vienna
Kane County -County Seat Geneva
Kankakee County-County Seat Kankakee
Kendall County-County Seat Yorkville
Knox County- County Seat Galesburg
Lake County-County Seat Waukegan
LaSalle County-County Seat Ottawa
Lawrence County-County Seat Lawrenceville
Lee County-County Seat Dixon
Livingston County-County Seat Pontiac
Logan County-County Seat Lincoln
Macon County-County Seat Decatur
Macoupin County-County Seat Carlinville
Madison County-County Seat Edwardsville
Marion County-County Seat Salem
Marshall County-County Seat Lacon
Mason County-County Seat Havana
Massac County-County Seat Metropolis
Mcdonough County-County Seat Macomb
McHenry County-County Seat Woodstock
McLean County-County Seat Bloomington
Menard County-County Seat Petersburg
Mercer County-County Seat Aledo
Monroe County-County Seat Waterloo
Montgomery County-County Seat Hillsboro
Morgan County-County Seat Jacksonville
Moultrie County-County Seat Sullivan
Ogle County-County Seat Oregon
Peoria County-County Seat Peoria
Perry County-County Seat Pickneyville
Piatt County-County Seat Monticello
Pike County-County Seat Pittsfield
Pope County-County Seat Golconda
Pulaski County-County Seat Mound
Putnam County-County Seat Hennepin
Randolph County-County Seat Chester
Richland County-County Seat Olney
Rock Island County-County Seat Rock Island
Saline County-County Seat Harrisburg
Sangamon County-County Seat Springfield
Schuyler County-County Seat Rushville
Scott County-County Seat Winchester
Shelby County-County Seat Shelbyville
St. Clair County-County Seat Belleville
Stark County-County Seat Toulon
Stephenson County-County Seat Freeport
Tazewell County-County Seat Pekin
Union County-County Seat Jonesboro
Vermilion County-County Seat Danville
Wabash County-County Seat Mount Carmel
Warren County-County Seat Monmouth
Washington County-County Seat Nashville
Wayne County-County Seat Fairfield
White County-County Seat Carmi
Whiteside County-County Seat Morrison
Will County-County Seat Joliet
Williamson County-County Seat Marion
Winnebago County-County Seat Rockford
Woodford County-County Seat Eureka

Whew, that is a lot of counties. I know Illinois is a long, big, state but 102 counties.
Here is a challenge for you. How many counties can you find and label in 15 minutes?
Click here for an enlarged image of the Illinois county map above. Print it out. Get a map or globe with the Illinois counties listed on it. Set a timer and see if you can beat my daughter's record of 47. Ready. Set. Go!

Illinois Geography: Historical Places

Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site is a re-creation of an 1830's log village where Abraham Lincoln lived for six years. Truly fascinating. If you check out the website make sure you go down the page for links to 360 degree visuals and clips.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site will be hosting this September an American Indian Educational Day. On their site they have a calendar of events that if you are going to be in the area you might want to check it out.

Trail of Tears:  When they were forced to move from their homelands, many Native Indians traveling along this trail died from starvation, exposure and diseases on their way to Oklahoma.

Trail of Tears Map Illinois Geography
                                      Wikimedia image  Gov't. created.
Spend some time learning about this Historic trail. Travel part of it or all of it if you can.
The Trail of Tears is approximately 2200 miles long. This is not a day trip.
Read some stories about this time in our history.

Illinois Geography: Animals

My daughter loves animals, so wherever we travel or go, I like to know what kind of animals she might encounter and if they are poisonous. Here are some of the poisonous creatures you need to watch out for when visiting Illinois. Note: Most of these will be found only in Southern Illinois.

Brown Recluse Spider                                         Black Widow Spider

Brown Recluse                                     Black Widow
Image from CDC                                                                                          Image from Wikimedia user Pollinator

Cottonmouth Snake

Cottonmouth head
Wikimedia user TimVickers

Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake
WikiMedia Michael Page

Timber Rattlesnake                                                        

Timber Rattlesnake head                     Timber Rattlesnake
Clinton & Charles Robertson from WikiMedia                                                           WikiMedia user Accipiter

Illinois Geography: Plants

Another thing I like to know is whether or not there are any plants that are poisonous to touch....like Poison Ivy. Yes, in Illinois there is a lot of Poison Ivy. If you see a plant with three shiny leaves in the spring, don't touch it.  Here is a picture of what Poison Ivy looks like in the summer and early fall. Later it will turn a pretty red. Red, in this case, does not mean "Love", if means, "Keep back!"

                                             Illinois Geograpy Poison Ivy

Illinois Geography: Food/Recipes

Just in case you wanted to try those twinkies, I found a recipe for you. Give them a try but please be careful with the hot oil. We don't want a trip to the Emergency Room. While I am all for exploring your state, the Emergency Room is one place I don't like to see anyone visit.

Deep Fried Twinkies


1 Twinkie
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn flour
A pinch of baking soda
Oil for deep frying 

Popsicle stick


  1. Freeze the Twinkie until firm or overnight.
  2. Mix the flours and baking soda together.
  3. Add milk (traditional) until you get a batter with the consistency of thin cream.
  4. Heat the oil until hot, but don't allow it to smoke.
  5. Insert Popsicle stick into the Twinkie. Will look like a corndog on a stick.
  6. Coat Twinkie completely in batter. Carefully lower into hot oil and fry until golden brown.
  7. Let the fried Twinkie cool on paper towels before you eat it. Trust me it will be hot.
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it.  The version I had at the fair had chocolate in it, making it taste like warm, chocolate cake. I may try to search for that version. If you have that recipe and are willing to share it on this site, send it to me through the form on my Homeschool Mom page.

Homeschool News

It is important to keep up with news in your area, especially news that relates to education or to homeschooling. On this site, you will find a page dedicated to Homeschool News. Please check to see if there is any news concerning your state.


Illinois Geography: Fun Facts

How about a few fun facts about Illinois Geograpy. Let me see what I can find.


1. The first Aquarium opened in Chicago in 1893

2. Illinois has had two capital cities, Kaskaskia, and Vandalia, before Springfield

3. Ronald Reagan lived as a boy in Dixon, Illinois.

4. Illinois claims it has the highest number of personalized license plates.

5. The Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day. Did you see the picture in the slide show?

6. Nabisco, the company that makes yummy crackers and cookies, is based in Chicago. I wonder if they give tours and samples....

7. In Mount Pulaski, it is illegal for boys but not for girls to throw snowballs at trees.

8. The largest man-made lake in Illinois is in Carlyle. 

State Symbols and Other Stuff 

You Might Want to Know About Illinois Geography

Do you like that long title. I don't really but I don't really want to bore you with a lot of facts but....there are some things about Illinois Geography that you probably should know. I'll try to keep the list short.

Date of Statehood: December 3, 1818
State Flower: Violet
State Bird: Cardinal
State Tree: White Oak
State Motto: State Sovereignty, National Union
State Dance: Square Dancing

Have you been to a great place in Illinois?

Do you have a story about a visit to a historical or other site/event or a favorite place in Illinois? We'd love to hear about it. Please share it! Do you have a picture, too? Great! We'd love to see that, too!

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What Other Visitors Have Said about Illinois

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Shawneetown - The Oldest Town in Illinois 
Shawneetown began life as a Shawnee Indian settlement and trading post. The first white settlers came in the late 1700's. The town was surveyed and platted …

Fort Massac Metropolis IL 
We visit Fort Massac several times a year. Aside from being a wonderful place every day, reenactments are held throughout the year depicting life and often …

Illinois Geography: Fort Massac 
Fort Massac is my favorite place to go in Illinois. Every year they do a re-enactment at the fort. Everyone that works there during the re-enactment wears …

November 2008, Illinois Fairs, Festivals, Parades, and Shows 
Just found out about some events that will be coming up in Illinois in November. Thought I would share them here. Nov. 1, 2008 30th Annual Galena Halloween …

Click here to write your own.

There is a lot more to know about Illinois Geography but I hope this page gave you a glimpse of Illinois.

To explore Illinois a little more, perhaps you would like to create an Illinois Geography Lapbook.

Return to the Resources4Homeschoolers home page from Illinois Geography

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Thank you to all Wikimedia contributors for the images used on this page for Illinois Geography. Daniel Schwen, User:Kranar_drogin, Robert Guico, Dori, IvoShandor, U.S. Air Force photo, zooey, TonyTheTiger, J. Crocker, Ildar Sagdejev, Nikopoley, Knowledge Seeker, Z_dead, Simulcra, John H. White, IvoShandor, G LeTourneau, Kbh3rd, Fritz Geller-Grimm, US Census, Ruhrfisch, Martin Davis, User:Xing979, User:Luigi Chiesa, Towpilot, Madmaxmarchhare, Scott Goodhart, Rogerd

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Illinois Geography Water Tower
Wikimedia BTDenyer.

New Salem, Illinois
Wikimedia Robert Lawton

Trail of Tears
Wikimedia public domain copyright expired
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