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Geographic Center of Illinois.

Geographic Center of Illinois

Field review by the editors.

Chestnut, Illinois

The Geographic Center of Illinois was the brainchild of Gary Calvert, who in 1991-1992 was taking classes at a business school in Rapid City, South Dakota. He later claimed to have visited a nearby "geographic center of the United States" monument that had fallen into neglect -- possibly the abandoned Geographic Center of the 49 States -- and decided that a similar "center" monument for his home state could fill that void and be a boon to his budding career in tourism marketing.

Calvert got a large map of Illinois, criss-crossed it with fishing line, and the lines converged near the hamlet of Chestnut. He then contacted the Illinois State Geological Survey, and to his delight found that their calculations were similar to his own.

Calvert traveled to Chestnut, showed them his official Illinois State Geological Survey letter, and convinced the tiny community that it needed a monument -- not on the exact spot, which was in a bean field, but next to the state highway that ran through town. He envisioned a large plaza and what he called a "geosphere monument" that he could promote with souvenirs. What he got was a concrete pillar set into a square slab marked with the four compass points. It has a now-weathered bronze plaque, "Geographical Center of Illinois, Founded by Gary Calvert, 1993." Not much appears to have happened since then, but the site is well-tended and trimmed.

Geographic Center of Illinois

119 E. Olive St., Chestnut, IL
From IL-54 turn north at the grain elevator onto Dauphin St., cross the train tracks, then turn left onto E. Olive St. The monument is in the small park on the left.
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