Deep within the Walnut Point State park near Oakland, Illinois is an old abandoned building with a large dome on the roof. It was the Prairie Observatory constructed in 1969 by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Department of Astronomy. The site was chosen because of the minimal amount of man made light providing for a dark sky. The observatory had a forty inch telescope that cost about a quarter of a million dollars. In 1981, the telescope was moved to San Diego State University’s Mount Laguna Observatory where it is still being utilized. The building was abandoned and sits mostly forgotten and is slowly being consumed by nature.
P.S. I just finished a 2700 mile trip through Illinois. I have lots of great stories and photos to share. I am working on my latest book, Lost In Illinois. I still have the northern part of the state to explore and I hope to do that next month.
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