Welcome to Illinois
The marker is located in a rest area on IL Route 3, on the west side of highway, a short distance north of the intersection with Route 146 toward Cape Girardeau, MO.
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society
In 1673 Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette explored the Illinois country for France. By the 1763 treaty ending the French and Indian War, this area passed to England. During the American Revolution, George Rogers Clark's men captured it for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Illinois was later governed as part of the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory, and the Illinois Territory. In 1818, Illinois entered the Union as the twenty-first state.
Permanent American settlers began arriving at the state's southwestern tip in 1805. Earthquakes rocked the Mississippi Valley in 1811, bringing refugees here in search of new homesites. After the War of 1812, another wave of settlers came, some bringing slaves. The newcomers raised cotton, flax, and tobacco. Later, they raised corn and wheat.
Northeast form here, at Jonesboro, Abraham Lincoln debated Stephen A. Douglas during the 1858 Senatorial campaign. During the Civil War, Cairo served as a major staging base where men and supplies were assembled before departing for the war zones. Mound City on the Ohio River was the principal depot for the Western River Fleet. Nearby is Thebes, once a bustling river port. The town declined when railroads replaced the steamboats, but the beautiful 1848 courthouse still stands. Nowadays, tourists and hunters are drawn to "Egypt"-- Illinois' sixteen southernmost counties -- by the beauty of the Shawnee Forest and wildlife at Horseshoe Lake.
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