From the National Road to Worlds Largest Stuff in the Land of Lincoln
We're on our way to Virginia and the parts of the East Coast. On our journey through Illinois, we discovered some things we didn't know.
About 70miles Northeast of St. Louis, we made a stop in Vandalia, Illinois, home of the state's oldest existing capitol building.
President Abraham Lincoln started his political career in Vandalia. His second term began in the still-standing capitol building, the third building to serve that purpose in Vandalia, which is the second capital city of Illinois, the first being Kaskaskia. The capitol building was opened in 1836 and operated until 1839. Interestingly, it was Lincoln that convinced the state to move its capital city to Springfield so it would be more centrally located.
Vandalia is also the western terminus of the Cumberland Road authorized by the US Congress in 1806. You might know it as the National Road. Today a monument stands in honor of the Pioneering women who trekked west on the nation's first highway built between 1811 and 1834.
Worlds Largest Stuff in Casey
When the National Road through Clark County was completed in 1834, several settlements began to spring up along the trail. One of those was Cumberland, about a mile east of the current city of Casey. Casey would draw more population though when it was established in 1853.
Oil was big here, though it took a while for them to figure out the best methods of getting it. Drilling in the area began around 1857, but early techniques and lack of know-how produced little crude before 1900. Then in 1904, Casey found itself in an official Oil Boom, as drillers from Pennslyvania came with experience and the proper tools. By 1907 two thousand wells had been drilled between Casey and Westfield, producing 24 million barrels of oil that year.
The sudden growth resulted in up to 4 banks and 10 Saloons and brought the interest of America's wealthy, like John D. Rockefeller, who purchased an area oil field for one million dollars in 1910.
Today this small city's motto is "Big things in a small town", and they do one heck of a job living up to that.
Casey sports the world's largest... well uh.. stuff.
The list of Worlds Largest includes a Pitchfork, Golf Tee, Rocking Chair, Teeter-Totter, Wind Chime, Key, Barbers Pole, Mail Box, Wooden Shoes, Golf Club, and Swizzle Spoon.
There are also other Big Attractions that didn't quite make Guinness Book of Worlds largest but are larger than life. From a spin top to a mousetrap, antlers, and more, it's a fun day just walking and driving around downtown Casey.
MoonshineMoonshine Store in the ghost town of Moonshine Illinois.
For lunch, we headed about 10 miles southeast of Casey to the Moonshine Store for a delicious burger. Moonshine sports a population of 2 according to the sign on the front of the store, however, we're told the couple that ran the place since the early '80s have passed over the last few years. You may be thinking, 'I've heard of that place.' Moonshine has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning Show and Late Night with David Letterman. Life here actually dates back to the 1850s, when it is said a family from Philadelphia named it to honor locations in Pennsylvania. The General Store opened in 1912 and it is worth your time to find your way to Moonshine, but be aware, they are only serving until 1 and the grill is turned off at 12:30 pm sharp.
Casey was supposed to be a quick one-night stand on the way to Virginia, but immediately we knew we would stay another. We camped in our 28ft travel trailer at Fairview Park, and there is room for bigger. Very nice campground with pull-through level pads, plenty with shade. $25 a night with electric/water (30 & 50 amp), a dump station, showers, and bathrooms (showers were closed during our visit).
This park has a lot to offer, from ponds with waterworks to the Casey Softball Museum, home of the USA Softball of Illinois Hall of Fame. Take note, you want to enter the main gates to the park as that is your easiest way into the campground. We didn't, but Jerry Clark, the campground manager since 1987 who lives across the street, chased us down and offered to guide us to a spot. We were here on a weekday and most of the time had the campground to ourselves. Jerry is also the one that pointed us to Moonshine. We really like Jerry.
Cya on the road!
Keywords: about, Casey, history, Illinois, Moonshine, National Road, oldest state capitol building still standing, photos, travel, Vandalia, Worlds Largest
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