A president’s death, the Great Chicago Fire and the deadliest tornado in American history top the list of Illinois’ most heartbreaking moments, as chosen by voters participating in the Illinois Top 200 project.

The Illinois Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.

The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission. Over the last few months, online voters have chosen favorite books, movies, buildings, inventions, and more.

Here are the top 5 results of online voting on Illinois' most heartbreaking moments:

  1. Lincoln Shot – Yes, it took place in Washington and was a national tragedy, but the 1865 murder of Abraham Lincoln hit especially hard in his home state. Some 75,000 people visited the Old State Capitol to see Lincoln’s body during the 24 hours it lay in state in Springfield.
  2. Chicago Fire – On October 8, 1871, fire broke out in a barn southwest of Chicago’s Loop. It spread rapidly, killing about 300 people and leaving one-third of the city’s population homeless. The city soon adopted better fire codes, rebuilt and entered a period of tremendous growth.
  3. Tri-State Tornado – The deadliest tornado in U.S. history hit southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and southern Indiana on March 18, 1925. At least 695 people were killed, more than 600 of them in Illinois. Murphysboro suffered 234 deaths, and two Illinois towns were essentially wiped off the map.
  4. 1993 Flood – The Mississippi and Missouri rivers rose to unprecedented levels in the spring of 1993 and stayed there for months. Flooding lasted 195 days at Grafton and 152 days at Quincy. Afterward, the entire town of Valmeyer was rebuilt on higher ground.
  5. Death in the Mines – Illinois suffered three of the worst mining disasters in U.S. history. The deadliest occurred in Cherry in 1909, when a fire killed 259 men and boys. In 1947, an explosion killed 111 people near Centralia. Four years later, a West Frankfort mine was rocked by an explosion that killed 119 miners.

Voting in the next category, top musicians, is underway at www.IllinoisTop200.com. The nominees include Muddy Waters, Alison Krauss, Nat King Cole, Smashing Pumpkins and Sir Georg Solti.

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