Mark Strehl Blog: Exploring the counties of Illinois

During my day, I get to look at a lot of maps. Good thing that I love looking at maps! They can show us all kinds of things about the world that we live in. And just as importantly, they can show us places that we might want to go hang out at in the future.

Even something as mundane as an Illinois County Map has a few interesting and quirky hidden secrets. Take for instance tiny Putnam County, just south of I-80 in North Central Illinois. It was originally part of much larger Bureau County, but in the 1800s it was difficult to get across the Illinois River, so the folks on the "cut-off" side petitioned for and got their very own (tiny) county.

Ford County, just South of Chicago was the last County formed in Illinois. It is also one of the most unusually shaped districts with a strange "panhandle" that shoots off a small square base. It becomes obvious that this county "stole" turf from it's surrounding existing counties when it was formed.

Illinois has 102 Counties. As you might imagine in a prairie state most are square or rectangle. But amazingly there is only one location in Northern Illinois where four counties come together. You can find one other spot in Central Illinois, and in Southern Illinois there are two locations (oddly, Saline County shares in two of those "four corner" connections).

South of the Wisconsin line, Boone, Ogle, DeKalb and Winnebago counties all come together at one point. Ironically, it's a "T" intersection - you can only travel in three directions.

It's almost like DeKalb and Boone Counties forgot to build the road on their side!