If you drive through central and southern Illinois, among the corn fields, you’ll come across a strange sight. Oil wells. These small, rocking wells pump oil from the prairie soil. They might only produce a barrel or two of oil a day, but with over 30,000 active wells in the state, that’s a lot of oil coming from the ground.
This part of the state lies on a geological formation called the Illinois Basin and contains deposits of coal, oil, and several minerals. I don’t understand all the scientific reasons why there is oil in Illinois, but there is. A bunch of it, apparently.
The first oil wells appeared on the landscape in the early 1860s and commercial production began in 1905. The heyday of Illinois oil came in the 1940s and 50s, but production continues up to the present day. I even came upon an article about a church with an oil well on their property. You can read about it here.
People in Illinois are so proud of their oil, there’s even a museum dedicated to it in the small town of Oblong, located between Terre Haute, Indiana and Effingham, Illinois.
So don’t be shocked to see oil wells among the corn stalks and the soybean plants as you travel south through the Land of Lincoln. It’s just a farmer making a few extra bucks.