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Springfield nature & environment

Assembling this archive left me  surprised at how many pieces I'd written about Illinois environmental issues in my years before the mast. Many of them touched on issues of moment to Springfield. This list is  comprehensive but not exhaustive; for example, it includes only one of my nearly annual exhortations about leaf-burning in the "Prejudices" years. If you've read one you've read 'em all.

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Pumping Out Iowa

Cities don’t make floods but they make them worse

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  July 21, 1993

Dead Horses

On the open burning of tree leaves

“Prejudices” Illinois Times  December 6, 1990

Archaeology Anyone?

Springfield’s “throwaway mentality”

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  July 8, 1982

Blue Bin Blues

Springfield recycles excuses about waste disposal

"Prejudices"  Illinois Times  July 2, 1992

Green Engineering

Soft alternatives to soft-headed flood control

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  July 29, 1993

Lake Springfield, etc.

Demanding Answers

Does water conservation add up for Springfield?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times  February 21, 2014

Muddying the Waters

Garbage in, drinking water out

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  August 27, 1991

Lake Springfield II

Public policy is hard, in two parts

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 20, 1980

Down to Business

Springfield builds a lake with no water in it

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  June 3, 1977

The Natural History of an Unnatural Lake

Lake Springfield, this is your life

Illinois Times  May 27, 1977

Is It Time to Build Lake II?
After 30 years, Springfield still doesn’t know

Illinois Times  August 18, 1988

Pointing the Way

Supply and demand and municipal water

"Prejudices" Illinois Times  November 10, 1988

Hoping for the Best

Subdividing Lake Springfield's shorelands

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  March 23, 1979

Idealistic Thoughts
Willis Spaulding, Springfield’s “greatest citizen after Lincoln”
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times December 29, 2016

Springfield's Back Yard
Lake Springfield's story is told in a fun new history
"Dyspepsiana" Illinois Times  April 15, 2021

It's Not the Heat, It's the Corn

Are row crops making summers unbearable?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times  July 12, 2011

Immigrants Behaving Badly

Is a bad tree worse than no tree at all?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times July 24, 2014

The Blossomy Haw, Remembered

Natural beauty and politics

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times June 9, 2016

The Recycling Drop-off

Re-using resources doesn’t always add up in Sangamon County

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  December 10, 2015

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Tree

Re-treeing Springfield means transplanting attitudes too

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  June 2, 2016

Living in Three Dimensions

Seeking the scenic in central Illinois

"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  August 19, 2010

Greener Than Thou
Mayor Davlin wants to make Springfield the No. 1 green city
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  September 16, 2010 

Springfield City Water, Light & Power

Burning coal in a power plant makes energy production a national environmental issue. Burning coal in city-owned-and-managed power plants makes it a local issue in Springfield.

Harvesting Electricity

The newest energy crop from Illinois fields

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times  January 21, 2010

It’s Not the Heat But the Stupidity

Summer cooling technologies remain unevolved

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times  July 29, 2010   

Lousy Socialists

Can CWLP be managed for the people’s benefit?

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times December 20, 2012 


What Would Willis Do?

Will CWLP not have to clean up its act?

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times October 5, 2017

‘Great Refrigerator Roundup’ Is a Bad Bargain

CWLP’s efficiency rebates are inefficient    

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times  October 8, 2009

$164 a Ton

Not all gas emitted by CWLP comes out its chimneys

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  October 20, 1983

Agency Problems

The dilemmas of public power on a warming planet

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times July 27, 2017

Green Is As Green Does
Can the City of Springfield  really reduce energy use in the capital? 
"Dyspepsiana"  Illinois Times  October 28, 2010

Wet Dream

Why not a Y block wetland?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times September 4, 2014

Going Against the Flow

Need Springfield gag on stormwater?

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times August 11, 2011

Greener than Thou

Springfield as the No. 1 green city

“Dyspepsiana”  Illinois Times  September 16, 2010

Carpenter Park 

A Park that Needs Protection from People

Springfield’s Carpenter Park under threat

Illinois Times  September 15, 1978

Who Is Protecting Carpenter Park?

Against government, nature doesn't stand a chance

Illinois Times  August 27, 1981

Conservation, Carpenter, and Cadigan

When foxes run the chicken coop

“Prejudices”  Illinois Times  March 31, 1983

Noise About Noise

Pollution from boom cars is confusing Springfield aldermen

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times  May 20, 2010

The Bird and I

Our feathered friends are trying to tell us something

“Dyspepsiana” Illinois Times January 29, 2015


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John Hallwas

Essential for anyone interested in Illinois history and literature. Hallwas deservedly won the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Lee Sandlin Author

One of Illinois’s best, and least-known, writers of his generation. Take note in particular of The Distancers and Road to Nowhere.

Chicago Architecture Center

See Home Page/Learn/

Resources for a marvelous building database, architecture dictionary, even a city planning graphic novel. Handsome, useful—every Illinois culture website should be so good.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago


The online version of The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Crammed with thousands of topic entries, biographical sketches, maps and images, it is a reference work unmatched in Illinois.

Illinois Great Places

The Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 2018 selected 200 Great Places in Illinois that illustrate our  shared architectural culture across the entire period of human settlement in Illinois.

McLean County Museum

of History

A nationally accredited, award-winning project of the McLean County Historical Society whose holdings include more than 20,000 objects, more than 15,000 books on local history and genealogy, and boxes and boxes of historical papers and images.

Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of Lincoln, Illinois


Every Illinois town ought to have a chronicler like D. Leigh Henson, Ph.D. Not only Lincoln and the Mother road—the author’s curiosity ranges from cattle baron John Dean Gillett to novelist William Maxwell. An Illinois State Historical Society "Best Web Site of the Year."

Illinois Digital Archives


Created in 2000, the IDA is a repository for the digital collections of the Illinois State Library and other Illinois libraries and cultural institutions. The holdings include photographs, slides, and glass negatives, oral histories, newspapers, maps, and documents from manuscripts and letters to postcards,  posters, and videos.

The Illinois State Museum


The people's museum is a treasure house of science and the arts. A research institution of national reputation, the museum maintains four facilities across the state. Their collections in anthropology, fine and decorative arts, botany, zoology, geology, and  history are described here. A few museum publications can be obtained here.

Chronicling Illinois

“Chronicling Illinois” showcases some of the collections—mostly some 6,000 photographs—from the Illinois history holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.


I will leave it to the authors of this interesting site to describe it. "Chicagology is a study of Chicago history with a focus on the period prior to the Second World War. The purpose of the site is to document common and not so common stories about the City of Chicago as they are discovered." 

Illinois Labor History Society

The Illinois Labor History Society seeks to encourage the preservation and study of labor history materials of the Illinois region, and to arouse public interest in the profound significance of the past to the present. Offers books reviews, podcasts, research guides, and the like. 

Illinois Migration History 1850-2017

The University of Washington’s America’s Great Migrations Project has compiled migration histories  (mostly from the published and unpublished work by UW Professor of History James Gregory) for several states, including Illinois. The site also includes maps and charts and essays about the Great Migration of African Americans to the north, in which Illinois figured importantly. 

History on the Fox

An interesting resource about the history of one of Illinois’s more interesting places, the Fox Valley of Kendall County. History on the Fox is the work of Roger Matile, an amateur historian of the best sort. Matile’s site is a couple of cuts above the typical buff’s blog. (An entry on the French attempt to cash in on the trade in bison pelts runs more than

2,000 words.)




Southern Illinois University Press 2017

A work of solid history, entertainingly told.

Michael Burlingame,

author of Abraham 

Lincoln: A Life 

One of the ten best books on Illinois history I have read in a decade.

Superior Achievement Award citation, ISHS Awards, 2018

A lively and engaging study . . .  an enthralling narrative.

James Edstrom

The Annals of Iowa

A book that merits the attention of all Illinois historians

as well as local historians generally.

John Hoffman

Journal of Illinois HIstory

A model for the kind of detailed and honest history other states and regions could use.

Harold Henderson 

Midwestern Microhistory

A fine example of a resurgence of Midwest historical scholarship.

Greg Hall

Journal of the Illinois

State Historical Society

Click  here 

to read about

the book 

Click  here 

to buy the book 


Southern Illinois University Press

SIU Press is one of the four major university publishing houses in Illinois. Its catalog offers much of local interest, including biographies of Illinois political figures, the history (human and natural) and folklore of southern Illinois, the Civil War and Lincoln, and quality reprints in the Shawnee Classics series.

University of

Illinois Press

The U of I Press was founded in 1918. A search of the online catalog  (Books/Browse by subject/Illinois) will reveal more than 150 Illinois titles, books on history mostly but also butteflies, nature , painting, poetry and fiction, and more.  Of particular note are its Prairie State Books,  quality new paperback editions of worthy titles about all parts of Illinois, augmented with scholarly introductions.

University of

Chicago Press

The U of C publishing operation is the oldest (1891) and largest university press in Illinois. Its reach is international, but it has not neglected its own neighborhood. Any good Illinois library will include dozens of titles about Chicago and Illinois from Fort Dearborn to

Vivian Maier.

Northern Illinois University Press

The newest (1965) and the smallest of the university presses with an interest in Illinois, Northern Illinois University Press gave us important titles such as the standard one-volume history of the state (Biles' Illinois:
A History of the Land and Its People) and contributions to the history of Chicago, Illinois transportation, and the Civil War. Now an imprint of Cornell University Press.


Reviews and significant mentions by James Krohe Jr. of more than 50 Illinois books, arranged in alphabetical order

by book title. 


Illinois Center for the Book

Run by the Illinois State Library, The Center promotes reading, writing and author programs meant to honor the state's rich literary heritage. An affiliate of the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book, the site offers award competitions, a directory of Illinois authors, literary landmarks, and reading programs.

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