Tuesday, June 21, 2011
A car-free Exodus to "Little Egypt"
A loop around Southern Illinois via train and bike reveals the area’s unique culture
by John Greenfield
Most people think of the Land of Lincoln as Chicago plus pancake-flat prairie, but Southern Illinois is completely different. The region, nicknamed “Little Egypt” because it’s located in the delta of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, is blanketed by the lush Shawnee National Forest and roller-coaster hills, which makes it a challenging, beautiful destination for bicycle travel.
Flooding along the Mississippi hit Southern Illinois hard this spring. My buddy Kevin was interested in checking out the aftermath, as well as the area’s unusual geography and historical landmarks. So on Memorial Day weekend we hauled our touring bikes onboard Amtrak’s Saluki Line from Chicago to Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, for a three-day cycling adventure.
Fellow green transportation journalist Steven Vance (stevencanplan.com) and I recently launched Grid, a new blog about walking, biking and transit in Chicago and beyond. Read the rest of this story at gridchicago.com.