If you only followed news reports about our state, you'd think that the only things we have going for us are a budget crisis, a crime and violence problem, and (on the brighter side) the Chicago Cubs. Well, guess what? We've got a lot more on the interesting side than on the embarrassing side.

In my ongoing efforts to dig up some intriguing people, places, and things about the Land of Lincoln, I happened upon a piece by Madison Bondi at Reboot Illinois. Madison opens up a treasure chest of random info about Illinois, and to be honest, there were several items on her list that I was completely unaware of.

Things like:

  • Legendary wild west lawman Wyatt Earp was born in Monmouth
  • The man credited with discovering Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, was born in Streator
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was created in Chicago
  • The first TV station in the world to broadcast "exclusively in color" was WMAQ in Chicago in 1956
  • Steak 'n Shake was founded in Normal in 1934
  • 333 farmers, on 47,000 acres of land, grow enough popcorn to make us the 3rd largest popcorn producing state
  • "American" was the official language of Illinois from 1923 to 1969
  • Abraham and Mary Lincoln bought their home in Springfield for $1,200 in 1844
  • Illinois has the highest number of vanity license plates in the entire country

On a related Illinois note, it was 151 years ago today that President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater in Washington. Obviously, there's no one alive today that remembers that infamous event, but that wasn't always the case: