I remembered hearing something about the history of Illinois, maybe back in college, and how there was a time that Chicago was almost part of Wisconsin because they were going to put the state line of Illinois at the bottom of Lake Michigan. Gone would be the north shore, the Illinois/Wisconsin border would be almost along I-80, and instead of Chicago being known as a city of gangsters and blowhard politicians it might be the cheese capital of the world.
Thankfully Nathaniel Pope proposed an amendment during the Debate on Statehood that shifted the border north to where it is now and instead of “Chicago, Wisconsin” we have “Chicago, Illinois,” where years ago the “Millionaire’s Special” would make its way from Chicago to Lake Geneva, WI, so that the wealthy could easily get from the hustle and bustle of the big city to their giant estates on Lake Geneva.
I was recently reminded of the history of Illinois when I stopped at a historical marker. On a trip to the land of cheese there was a sign along the side of the road announcing that a historical marker was ahead. On a tight time-schedule for our vacation, a mental note was made to stop at said marker on the way home, but throughout the weekend I couldn’t help but wonder about the marker. I remembered glancing at it as we drove by noticing it was a large sign and behind it was a cell tower. I wondered about the significance of the marker thinking it might be announcing a location of a giant battle for Wisconsin/Illinois supremacy. Maybe it was the sight that a famous cow was born? Who knows, maybe that cell tower was the first one in Illinois? Finding out the significance would have to wait as a relaxing weekend was waiting, and also finding another historical marker noting the location of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad in Lake Geneva, and it’s elite “Millionaire’s Special.”
With the weekend over and on the ride back to civilization, there it was, the beckoning historical marker. A quick pit-stop, a quick photo, and a little disappointment I must say as this wasn’t the site of a battle, nor the site that someone famous was born, nor announcing that cell phone service had come to the northern counties of Illinois, but here, on the side of the road, was a marker welcoming people to Illinois, giving a little bit of history, and it isn’t even located on the border but about three miles south in front of a cell tower. It was, however, a seeming popular historical marker as you could see the worn out grass as people would park and walk up to the sign, thereby finding out that Allen Pinkerton wasn’t born in that spot, but he did live in nearby Dundee, and founded a detective agency in 1850, and was Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard for a time. Luckily for Pinkerton his legacy wasn’t destroyed as he wasn’t guarding Lincoln when he was assassinated, and in fact, Pinkerton foiled an earlier plot to kill Lincoln.
I guess I was hoping for a little more excitement with my historical marker stop, but alas, it did remind me how lucky we are in Chicago that Nathaniel Pope was a badass because “Chicago, Wisconsin” doesn’t seem to roll off of the tongue as nicely. Stopping at the marker also made me wonder “Have you stopped to look at a historical marker?”
That’s it for this one! L8R!!