From its people to its landmarks, its culture to its contributions to society, Southern Illinois has many defining qualities. We took 99 days last year to take a closer look at 99 things that make Southern Illinois special.

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‘X’ doesn’t mark the spot in Makanda -- the smiley face water tower does.

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You’re sitting in the gazebo on the lawn of the Rose Hotel in Elizabethtown. It’s a warm spring day, and you’re sipping a tall iced tea and ta…

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There is no better breakfast than biscuits and gravy at Mary Lou’s Grill in Carbondale.

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Camping is nearly as popular as Christmas in Southern Illinois.

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High energy, house rockin', and outrageous, Tawl Paul (a.k.a. Paul Frederick) and his band Slappin' Henry Blue have been testifying to the blu…

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Everybody loves a winner – so the maxim goes – and Southern Illinois University’s Debate Team certainly has been that.

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The next time you're planning a day trip, consider heading to Cave-In-Rock and ferrying across the Ohio River to Kentucky's Amish country.

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The Crimson Express Marching Band is the pride of Murphysboro and its high school. Formed in 1991 by founding director Mark Mikulay, the Crims…

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Back in August 1997, a couple named Tracey and Joseph professed their undying love for each other – on the wood-paneled wall of a Southern Ill…

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It's affectionately known as The Bucky Dome.

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Blue Sky Vineyard, a destination tucked away in the Shawnee hills of Makanda, is a winery that seems as though it were plucked straight from t…

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Lincoln Memorial Park at 521 N. Main St. in Jonesboro is a great place to have a picnic, but it is more than a picnic spot. The park is the lo…

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Nearly one year after her passing, Marianne Webb’s prestigious legacy lives on.

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ALTO PASS -- If you ever find yourself "Sunday driving" on Illinois 127 you'll want to visit the Alto Pass Overlook where you'll see a breatht…

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You don't need to be part of Bill and Ted's next excellent adventure to travel back in time and experience an 18th or 19th century Southern Il…

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HERRIN -- A Southern Illinois gem nestled in a small town is where residents and those passing through can find a delicious lunch.

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For nearly four decades, Southern Illinois film buffs have flocked to Big Muddy Film Festival to catch the latest avant garde experimental, do…

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Pull on your tennis shoes or lace up your hiking boots if you are planning a visit to the Little Grand Canyon in rural Jackson County near Pomona.

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Southern Illinois Children’s Choir is not your average group of children who sing. It is an auditioned choir that “offers enriching musical ex…

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Next time the kids say, "I'm bored," try surprising them with a field trip to a museum or state historic site. Wouldn't that be a really big s…

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On the campus of the Southern Illinois Airport, SIU students have the opportunity to learn all about flying planes and everything that goes al…

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Welcome to the near camouflage cult that is Southern Illinois.

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Craving the piquant kick of a Chile coffee amber ale? Pining for the nutmeg notes of a sweet-but-savory pumpkin ale? Look no further than Sout…

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When St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams takes a bat to the plate, it bears the trademark of a Ridgway company.

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Harkening back to an era of nostalgic Americana, Dairy Queen in Carbondale brings frozen treats and delightful memories to its many patrons.

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Illinois’ original capitol city lives on as a crucial facet of state history. Every year, the Independence Day Celebration that takes place at…

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If you take a seat at the bar at PK’s in Carbondale, it is impossible not to notice the famous wall of mugs that reaches the ceiling. The mugs…

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The 41-year tradition of the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta has made many waves on the surface of the Southern Illinois University Campus Lake.

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Deep inside the Shawnee National forest, southeast of Harrisburg, you'll come face-to-face with a startling natural wonder made out of solid rock.

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America’s fanciest restaurants may charge you a pretty penny for a fine dish that features “wild” mushrooms the likes of a portabella, oyster …

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Harry L Crisp Sr. and his wife, Violette Fairless, lived on their sprawling, 137-acre Marion estate, Crisp Acres, in their Georgian Colonial h…

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Just the mention of the Du Quoin State Fair grandstand brings back vivid memories of Sam the Candy Man calling out his fudge is "soooo good," …

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A look down Golconda’s crowded downtown streets in September reveals one thing: Southern Illinois is obsessed with shrimp. For 14 years and ru…

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Sitting atop historic Pulliam Hall in the heart of Southern Illinois University’s campus, the iconic clock tower has beckoning visitors, stude…

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Bell Smith Springs is one of the most stunning recreation areas the Shawnee National Forest has to offer. And some of the main reasons why are…

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Southern Illinois is surrounded by history, much of that history dates back to the Civil War.

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If the Misselhorn Art Gallery in Sparta looks like something out of the movies, that's because it is.

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For the past three centuries, Southern Illinois has been connected to a country an ocean and a continent away and to a Biblical event separate…

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Smysor Plaza is a focal point of Murphysboro’s downtown area, providing a relaxing, serene spot to enjoy a break from shopping, play or work.

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Paul Powell, who began his political career in the 1930s, was a local boy done good, as we might say in these parts. From the tiny town of Vie…

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The iconic, yellow brick Coca-Cola bottling plant that sits along U.S. 51 in Du Quoin is a throwback to yesteryears.

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CARBONDALE -- Years ago, my children were instantly transported to a fantasy world upon entering Jeremy “Boo” Rochman Memorial Park, also call…

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Every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, townspeople gather around the Herrin Doughboy on the corner of North Park Avenue and Adams Street…

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On a small farm near West Frankfort in 1942, a million-dollar pig was born.

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Can you imagine being forced to leave the land you had known all you life and ordered to travel thousands of miles on foot with small children…

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When Steve Goodman wrote “City of New Orleans” and released it in on his 1971 album, passenger trains seemed destined to become extinct. The s…

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There are about 99 species of fish that can be caught in Southern Illinois and about 99 lakes and streams where anglers can wet a line.

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Since 1963, Bob Butler and Marion have been synonymous.

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A symbol of Cairo's past glory, Magnolia Manor seems to define the historical town -- a testament to its endurance.

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The drive through northern Jackson County on U.S. 51 is rather nondescript. Travelers pass through Elkville and De Soto likely without so much…

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If you are in the mood for a short hike with a high reward, The Pomona Natural Bridge just might fit the bill.

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Murals in Southern Illinois are more than the splashy colors and meticulous lines that make them a piece of art.

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Nestled in the Shawnee National Forest, the village of Makanda has a long history dating back to 1845, and a large part of that history revolv…

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Editor's note: Sept. 28, 2015: Gov. Bruce Rauner announced in June that the state would close the World Shooting and Recreational Complex, alo…

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For 10 years, the Southern Illinois Music Festival has served as one of the region’s most widely recognized forums for local talent across a v…

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"I'm the Mississippi; you're the Ohio. I'm restless and churning; you're peaceful and tranquil. When we get together, the effervescent flow sw…

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The Root Beer Saloon in Alto Pass has built a reputation as one of the most unique hot spots on the Southern Illinois landscape.

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In September of 1963, Louise Harrison Caldwell of Benton was preparing for her little brother’s visit. Carrying two 45-rpm records pressed by …

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Paul Simon was known for many things.

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CARBONDALE -- Woodlawn Cemetery in Carbondale has a long history, along with a few firsts in Illinois.

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At 280 Washington St. in Old Shawneetown stands a crumbling giant. The Shawneetown Bank, a four-story, brick and stone behemoth with five mass…

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The annual Cobden Peach Festival began as a harvest celebration in Union County. So, along with the carnival rides and games, the queen contes…

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If you’re old enough, you remember the Marion Civic Center as The Orpheum Theater, the flagship of a chain of vaudeville and movie venues that…

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A familiar marker for frequent drivers of Interstate 57 and a roadside novelty for vacation travelers, the Rend Lake Conservancy District golf…

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Soaring above the Marion square, a clock tower stands guard -- a sentinel of time and overseer of history.

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With its history dating all the way back to 1540, the site of Fort Massac is an integral early American part of Southern Illinois’ history.

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I could be anywhere in the world, and the sight of a yellow plastic cup with red writing would immediately bring me home to Southern Illinois …

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Many have experienced the migration of snakes, other reptiles and amphibians while in their natural habitat with a visit to Snake Road. The ro…

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As we drove home one July afternoon, my then 5-year-old son sat looking out the car window.

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The city was built on the backs -- not literally -- of hardworking Italian immigrants who came to Southern Illinois to work in the coal mines.…

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Pink cookies are a favorite in Southern Illinois. A quick Google search brought up images of chocolate chip, strawberry and raspberry cookies,…

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What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, Martin Luther King Jr., and white-tailed deer have in common?

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It’s part food and part song of the soul.

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My family was among the earliest pioneer settlers in Southern Illinois, joining an Evansville Scotch-Irish settlement in 1805.

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When this country was new and farming meant the difference between life and starvation, the men and women who tilled the ground planted winter…

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A hoof pounds against the dirt track, sending dust flying. A second follows. Then a third, a fourth.

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Thanks to geography and geology, residents of Southern Illinois can enjoy wildflowers 10 months out of the year. 

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It doesn’t matter if you’re “Crazy About a Mercury” or especially fond of a certain “Little Deuce Coupe,” the place you want to be is the Stre…

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As summer turns to fall, Southern Illinoisans prepare for autumn activities, which would not be complete without a trip to the local orchards …

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Southern Illinois didn't invent high school football, but a lot of communities in the region like to think it did.

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If you like to let your imagination run wild, Cave-In-Rock State Park is the perfect spot for you.

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With or without, that is the question.

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The Bald Knob Cross of Peace stands as a beacon to peace, faith, charity and hope.

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The Garden of the Gods, a 3,300-acre wilderness area near the Shawnee National Forest’s eastern side, is the one of the region’s most popular …

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Life is different in a river town. Visit those dotting the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, and you'll feel it. Time moves slower, life seems less…

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One of the Midwest’s finest outdoor sculpture parks can be found in the Southern Illinois region’s own backyard.

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If you are looking for late-night snacks in Carbondale, look no further than Winston’s Bagels across from Pinch Penny Pub on Grand Avenue.

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Throughout the last century, coal fueled Southern Illinois, both literally and figuratively. Communities were built around mines, businesses t…

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For 40 years, the City of Metropolis has reveled in its connection to the Man of Steel as the earthly hometown of Clark Kent, the journalist w…

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Many college sports teams take pride in their mascots. The University of Colorado parades around its giant buffalo before football games, whil…

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On April 19, 1928, Charlie Birger stood on the wooden gallows at the Franklin County Jail in Benton, facing a crowd of more than 5,000 spectat…

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It’s harvest season in Southern Illinois for grapes, mid-August through October. Workers are already in the process of crushing and pressing f…

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You can keep your milkshakes and all 50-something flavors; forget all those store-bought brands of ice cream. If you’re from Southern Illinois…

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The half-million-acre Cache River Watershed looks more like the far South than Southern Illinois. This natural wonder supports ancient cypress…

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Sure, there are other statutes of Gen. John A. Logan sprinkled throughout the country. He was, after all, an instrumental figure in our nation…

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