ILLINOIS is the fifth most populous state and considered by many to be a microcosm of our country, so I was surprised that the "corn belt" scenery continued after I crossed over the Mississippi River. However I learned that, along with Iowa and Nebraska, Illinois ranks high among states in agricultural production -- which is very evident in central Illinois. In fact, Illinois has three distinct regions: an industrial north, agricultural middle, and mineral-rich south. A change of scenery must be coming soon!
While its population centers around Chicago, Illinois settlement began at the Mississippi River and spread northward after the Erie Canal was built and trade flourished through the Great Lakes harbors. Finally, the presence of rivers is more evident with each town I pass. As I pass through the Illinois River Valley it's becoming apparent how influential water commerce is to the region.
The Illinois River extends for 270 miles, connecting the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and was important to the early Native Americans and emigrant settlers as a principal water highway. A series of canals have have extended the river's importance into the present era of modern industrial shipping.
Miles 2093, Week 25, Weather 90F🌥