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Southern Illinois Wineries Offer Guests Something Special

Thirty years ago, Guy Renzaglia told his friends and family that he was going to grow French-American grapes in Southern Illinois’ Union County. People laughed because wine wasn’t one of the state’s industries. Today, Guy has the last laugh as his Alto Vineyards is now a cornerstone for the ever-growing and prosperous Southern Illinois wine industry.

The wine industry in Illinois is exploding. In 1997, there were only 14 wineries in the entire state. Today, there are more than 100 and they provide an economic impact of almost $700 million.

Illinois is a large state and is divided into four major wine regions: the Northern, Central, South Central, and Southern regions. There are also eight wine trails that showcase many of the state’s wineries and allow guests to discover a variety of wines along each trail.

Many Illinois wineries are tourist destinations and offer live entertainment, food, and even overnight lodging. Some even hold performances such as festivals and dinner theater and all are popular as wedding venues.

In southern Illinois, the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area was the state’s first viticultural area and is still the only one contained completely within the state. This area contains two wine trails and is home to 17 wineries and vineyards.

The Southern Illinois Wine Trail offers visitors adventure, tranquility and exceptional wines. The wines come from native Illinois grapes and the wineries are nestled amid serene countryside and beautiful farmland. The trail runs north of the Ohio River and takes guests to tasting rooms that welcome each and every one with a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The Shawnee Hills Wine Trail meanders through one of the Midwest’s most established wine regions. The area features award-winning wineries that are located along the 40-mile trail that also takes guests through the Shawnee National Forest. There are eleven wineries along this trail and each offers visitors something unique, along with great wine.

Details About the Cave-In-Rock State Park

In this article, we will talk about some of the amazing features of Cave-In Rock State Park located in the state of Illinois. The park’s main feature is a 55-foot cave. This cave was formed over the course of many years by erosion in the rock. The large cave was used by the Native Americans as a source of shelter during the time that they inhabited this area. In later times, the European settlers who moved into the area used the river that was adjacent to what would become Cave-In Rock State Park as a ferry crossing.

When the introduction of the steamboat was made to the Ohio River this created a large increase in individuals who chose to travel in this way. The large cave located in the state park attracted many of these people, such as artists who wanted to have a look at the cave in order to be able to incorporate the picturesque landscape into their artistic creations.

The area, as well as the cave located there, have been recognized as a state park since the year of 1929. At this time, the state of Illinois acquired the 65.5 acres and have managed this land ever since. The park offers camping, hiking, and other recreational activities within the area that visitors like CDFS LLP are more than welcome to come and enjoy.

In conclusion, Cave-In Rock State Park has a rich history before it even became a state park for visitors to enjoy. There is a lot of great information available online alongside images of the cave and the park. The Cave-In Rock State Park is a great place for families as well as single individuals who want to spend some time in the beauty of nature. It has many sights to offer for those of you who are photographers and those who simply love the outdoors. We highly suggest coming to visit this state park to not only hike, camp, etc., but to enjoy the marvelous cave that has garnered such popularity over the years.

This video gives us a great look at the inside of Cave-In-Rock State Park!

What You Need To Know About Beall Woods State Park

Beall Woods State Park covers over 635 acres in Illinois. This beautiful park borders the Wabash River and has the distinction of being an old-growth forest. The park has the distinction of being one of the few places with virgin timber. When you visit, you will see trees that are over 120 feet tall and over 3 feet wide. The park offers many types of recreational activities as well.

If you are interested in hiking, Beall Woods is a great place to explore. The scenery is beautiful and you can hike for miles. The scenery is stunning and it is also a great place to camp and fish. If you are looking for an amazing picnic, you can’t go wrong with this park.

Beal Woods has a 15-acre lake that is stocked with a wide variety of fish, including catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass. The lake is also stocked with trout during fall and spring. You can boat on the lake as long as you only use trolling motors.

The park is a paradise for hikers with five established trails that offer views of the old-growth forest. The trails range in difficulty from easy to hard. The park encourages hikers to only hike on established trails to preserve the ecosystem. Horses, pets, and bicycles are not allowed on the trails.

If you want to spend more time at the park, visitors can camp at one of the 16 campsites. The campground has restrooms and vehicular access. You don’t need to make reservations either. Beall Woods used to be a farm in the 1800’s and a large portion of the farm had never been cleared. The land was eventually purchased by the state of Illinois and turned into the park so it can be enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.

What Are The Shawnee Hills?

Have you ever heard of the Illinois Ozarks? It’s not really part of the Ozarks, most people agree those begin just on the other side of Missouri. Still, there’s no questioning that the Shawnee Hills are a gorgeous area. The area rests in southern Illinois (hence the “Illinois Ozarks”), and follows in an east-west pattern across that border.

Of course, most of the area of Shawnee Hills rests entirely within Shawnee National Park. This is a huge tourist area, thanks to the beauty of the forests and the hills. The beauty manages to last thanks to the tireless efforts of Federal park rangers. The Shawnee National Park is the largest federally protected park in the United States, which makes it quite large indeed!

Unlike many rock layers in the area, the Shawnee Hills jut up through the crust of the Earth. In practical terms, this means that the hill formations are made of layers of sandstone and limestone. In point of fact, at one time 80% of all the fluorspar in the world (not the country!) was mined near Cave In Rock and Rosiclare. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also coal mining in the northern and southern areas of the hills.

The Shawnee Hills make up one of a three-pronged “tourist triangle”. Even though much of Shawnee Hills is located within the park, there’s enough area not federally protected that it’s a tourist attraction all its own. The third prong is the Ohio Valley River, which is also as gorgeous as anything else in the area.

That’s not the only river, however. Big Muddy River cuts right through the area, while the Mississippi River flows nearby. There are multiple towns in the area, all dedicated to mining, divorce modification, or tourism. Truly, the area can be considered one of the best outdoor nature areas in the country.

Do you like the sound of the Shawnee Hills? Do you like wine? If so, we have just the video for you!

Information About Shawnee National Forest

Sitting between the Ohio and Mississippi rivers in southern Illinois is a land covered by woodlands hills and lakes, and best known as the Shawnee National Forest. It is administered by the U.S.D.A Forest Service and consists of around 280,000 acres of federally managed lands. The forest’s terrain features open lands, creeks, rolling hills, and rugged bluffs. The region’s mild weather throughout makes the forest an excellent place to visit for those who love outdoor activities.

The Shawnee National Forest is mostly famous for the Garden of Gods, one of the most photographed areas in Illinois. It’s famous for its extraordinary scenic beauty. The Shawnee National Forest also features the Rim Rock Recreational Trail. Hiking lovers will be greeted by fantastic jutting walls of rocks that are covered with green moss and paths that bend through canyons in the forest.

You will also come across the Observation Trail, a quarter mile loop trail that features distinct sandstone rock formations as well as panoramic views of the Garden of the God’s wilderness. The Tail’s surface is covered by natural sandstone and contains small steep grades and steps. You will also find benches along the trail and so, it’s not tiring as a whole.

If you love climbing, then Jackson Falls is a must see site located in the Hidden Springs Ranger District just near the town of Ozark. The climb takes place on 60ft boulders and cliffs that have many freestanding towers.

When it comes to lodging, you will come across many excellent options, some of which can be found on the Forest’s primary site. Most people find the maps as well as the nearby attractions for every lodging option quite helpful when planning a vacation or just a simple weekend getaway.

Regardless, you won’t be disappointed if you decide to spend your free time in the Shawnee National Forest.

What Is The Illinoian Stage in Geology?

There is a point in our geologic history called the Illinoian glacial stage. In North America, specifically during the Pleistocene Epoch, this was a very unique time. The Pleistocene Epoch lasted from 2.6 million years ago to about 11,700 years ago, terminating with the end of the Ice Age. The Illinoian represents a time where there was a substantial amount of continental glaciation, between 191,000 to c.130,000 years ago. It was right in between two separate interglacial stages which had much more moderate climates. It is called the Illinoian stage because it was during this time that the area which now represents the state of Illinois received three separate till layers of sediment. It was during this time that the the Laurentide ice sheet actually occupied a significant amount of what is the state of Illinois, covering 85 percent of the state as it is measured today.

Why Is This Stage Important?

This was actually broken down into a couple different sub stages which include the Liman, Monican, and the Jubileean. Therefore there were actually two separate glaciation movements in early and late stages, with some speculating that it actually began avoiding probate as early as 300,000 years ago. Although it would be several hundred thousand years in the future before the Ice Age would end, it was during this time that important layers of glacial till were set down. There are older fluvial sediments that were also deposited during this time, creating what would later be very fertile areas where crops could grow. Without these deposits, it is unlikely that Wisconsin would have the fertile soil that it has today. By the end of the Ice Age, it is clear that this particular stage in glaciation is one of the most important in our North American history.

Please watch this video to learn more about the Illinoian stage!

Why Is Southern Illinois Region Called Little Egypt?

Known as Little Egypt, the southern third of Illinois is located in area code 618. It is separate from the rest of the state geographically as well as culturally and even economically. As a part of the downstate area, it’s bordered on three of the four sides by voluminous rivers named Wabash and Ohio rivers to the east and the south. The Mississippi connects it to the West.

Populated by 44,478 persons, the principal cities of the region include Alton, Collinsville, Centralia, and Edwardsville as well as Effingham and O’Fallon. Mt. Vernon, Marion, and even Carbondale are the main areas of the South Illinois University and located here as well.

Residents enjoy amenities in both St. Louis and Cape Girardeau Missouri. They also travel to Memphis Tennessee and Evansville Indiana. Home to the Scott Air Force Base, a major military installation, many military families reside here as well.

With a population of 1.2 million mostly residing in rural towns and cities, they are separated by an extensive amount of farmland and the Shawnee National Forest. The density of the population is in the Metro-East area that is the partially industrialized area of the Illinois region of the St. Louis Metro area as well as the Carbondale-Marion-heron area.

Originally settled by European settlers from France, they called the area Little Egypt. Settlers would migrate from the Upland South area and traveled by the Ohio River. At one time they were affiliated with the southern agricultural rural and economic culture.

Many of the original settlers owned slaves before slavery was outlawed for the area. The economy was based on coal mining except for the areas that were farmland.

Originally the region was inhabited by Hunters-Gatherers in 12,000 BC and the region has thrived on farming for centuries. Today, farming continues as a source of income for some of the population.

Overview Of The Tri-State Tornado Of 1925

This was one of the most devastating tornadoes in American history. It is called the tri-state tornado because of how long it was on the ground. Traveling for a total of three hours and 30 minutes, it covered 219 miles. It was responsible for the deaths of almost 700 people. Although this occurred in 1925, it was well documented. It began in southeastern Missouri, traveling up through southern Illinois. It eventually made its way into southwestern Indiana, destroying a number of towns in its path. It’s safe to say that many companies needed business immigration attorneys after that! Here are a few of the particulars that you should know about this tornado that is considered to be the most deadly tornado in US history.

Origins Of The Tornado

This tornado was first reported at 1 PM in Ellington, Missouri. It was not predicted at all. It caught the residence of the town by surprise, moving quickly northeast, going through the towns of Frohna, Biehle and Annapolis. Seeming to come out of nowhere on this very calm day, it crossed over the Mississippi River into southern Illinois. It then moved through several other towns including Murfreesboro which received the most catastrophic damage from this tornado. Gradually it moved into Indiana, crossing over the Wabash River. It destroyed 85 farms and the towns of Princeton and Griffin. Finally, at 4:30PM it dissipated southwest of Petersburg, a tornado that had wind speeds of 300 mph.

Why Is This Tornado Unique?

The Tri-State Tornado is very unique for several different reasons. First of all, it was able to sustain itself for 3 1/2 hours. It had a width of up to a mile, with average speeds of 62 miles an hour. Over 2000 people were injured because of this tornado, leaving many people homeless and without food. The fact that it came out of nowhere, and was able to wreak so much havoc, is one of the reasons that this is regarded as one of the strangest, and also the most deadly, tornadoes in history.

This segment from The Weather Channel goes into even more detail about this subject!

Who Was Charles Birger?

As a rival to the Shelton Brothers, Charles Birger was born to a simple Jewish family in what is today known as Lithuania. At the time, it was a part of the Russian Empire.

Immigrating to the U.S. as a young child with his family, they settled into the St. Louis area where Charles got a job at the ripe young age of eight. He worked as a newsboy for the Post-Dispatch. Later, he would work his way up the ranks and move to the O’Fallon area of Missouri where he would work in a pool room.

In July of 1901, young Charles enlisted himself into the U.S. Army and would be assigned to the Company G of the then 13th Calvary Regiment. He was stationed in the South Dakota region and often described as a great soldier and in 1904 he would be honorably discharged at Fort Meade.

After the army, Charles found work as a Cowboy. Eventually, he would return to the Illinois area where he would meet his future wife, Beatrice. Here he would become a minor and expand the coal mining community of the Harrisburg area. Later, he became a keeper at a local saloon.

However, in 1919 the United States would adopt prohibition that would ban the sale and the manufacture as well as the transportation of alcohol drinks. Charles saw this as an opportunity since it would put his saloon out of business and in the year 1920 he would join up with the bootleggers Shelton Brothers who would later become rivals.

Charles based his bootlegging operation in the Harrisburg area of Southern Illinois. Eventually, the authorities of the Saline County region convinced him to relocate and he built up a fortified speakeasy named Shady Rest across the line in Williamson County. Shady Rest was located right off of Highway 13 and it was halfway between Marion and Harrisburg. A barbecue shack would stand as a guard service for the speakeasy.

Who Were The Shelton Brothers Gang?

During the prohibition era, there were many bootleg gangs that worked to keep the southern Illinois area stocked with liquor. As the main rivals of another famous bootlegger named Charles Birger and his gang, The Shelton Brothers were a source to contend with.

Often described as “America’s Bloodiest Gang”, they can trace their roots back to Ireland where they lived under the surname of “Hunter”. Today, there are many of their descendants that still reside in the St. Louis area.

Comprised of Carl who was born in 188, and his brother Bernie, aka “Red” Shelton who was born in 1898 and their friend “Geff” Jerffersonville of Wayne County Illinois just after prohibition came into being in 1920, they operated in Williamson County, Illinois making their moonshine and an array of other illegal alcoholic drinks.

Eventually, they dominated the gambling and the liquor distribution in the Little Egypt region until 1926 when Charles Birger entered the scene and tried to overtake their operations. A violent gang war quickly ensued and both sides of the equation utilized homemade armored trucks that also included aerial bombing raids and several experienced automobile accident attorneys by both parties at the Shady Rest Headquarters. All of this to control the bootlegging business in southern Illinois.

In spite of over fifty gunmen, the Shelton Brothers were defeated by Charles Birger according to the testimony of both Birger and Art Newman. Convicted of the 1925 mail carrier robbery that netted $15,000 they were sentenced to 25 years in prison each.

With their leaders locked up for 25 years, the gang faded away and Charles Birger became the dominate bootlegger for the region until 1928 when he was hanged after a conviction of ordering a murder in West City Illinois of the mayor, Joe Adams.

Upon release from prison, the Shelton Brothers would move into the Peoria Illinois area and later they were both murdered thanks to orders from a former member of the gang Frank aka “Buster” Wortman.

The documentary embedded below has some more amazing info on the Shelton Brothers Gang: