Forgottonia (also spelled Forgotonia) is the name given to a fourteen-county region in Western Illinois in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This geographic region forms the distinctive western bulge of Illinois that is roughly equivalent to "The Tract", the Illinois portion of the Military Tract of 1812, along and west of the Fourth Principal Meridian (see Principal meridian). Since this wedge-shaped region lies between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers, it has historically been isolated (river bridge access) from the eastern portion of Central Illinois.
The name Forgottonia was created by Jack Horn, son of civically minded Coca-Cola regional bottler Frank “Pappy” Horn; John Armstrong, Macomb Chamber of Commerce Board Member; and Neil Gamm, a Western Illinois University theatre student and a graduate of VIT (Vermont-Ipava-Table Grove) High School. The initiative grew from frustration among the citizens and public officials of western Illinois due to a perceived lack of support for regional transportation projects. Federal funding for a highway from Chicago to Kansas City routed through the heart of western Illinois was defeated by the U.S. Congress (1955, 1968, 1972), passenger rail service from Quincy and Macomb to Chicago was dropped in 1970, and Carthage College packed up and moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1964. The term Forgottonia was used by Congressman Dick Durbin, who represented the southern portion of the region, in stump speeches in the early 1980s. He expanded the definition to include communications (educational television, fiber-optic routes, etc.) and infrastructure services (private and public). The name is less popular today, but the exodus of population and industries has continued. Some counties in this region have reached federal poverty levels, for the first time in the state's history.
In the 1970s, there were five Illinois River highway bridge crossings south of Peoria (Havana, Beardstown, Meredosia, Florence, and Hardin), plus two free Illinois River ferries at Kampsville, and Brussels. The Valley City Eagle bridge for the Central Illinois Expressway in the southern section of the region was not completed until the late 1980s. See Illinois River bridges. The Mississippi River highways bridges at that time were Toll bridges with a few exceptions, and owned by railroads or cities along the river.
A Chicago–Kansas City Expressway was planned in the 1950s and 1960s from Chicago to Kansas City, Missouri via Peoria, Macomb, and Quincy, roughly following U.S. Route 24 and the Santa Fe Railroad right-of-ways with a western connection to the Kansas Turnpike completed in October 20, 1956. The highway was studied and route corridors developed, but the expressway was never built. The major Chicago to Kansas City railroads in the region were against potential competing truck routes and Missouri DOT chose to not support a Kansas City to Chicago route in 1950s.
An Avenue of the Saints (Saint Paul, MN – St. Louis, MO) expressway was proposed in 1955 as part of Interstate Highway System. It would have followed U.S. Route 61 from Saint Paul through La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Dubuque, Iowa, to Davenport, Iowa, and then followed U.S. Route 67 from Davenport through western Illinois (Monmouth, Macomb, Beardstown, Jacksonville, Alton) crossing a new Clark Bridge at Alton to St. Louis. Missouri. Barge lines, operating along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, objected to competing truck routes. This route was not selected in 1956.
In 1970, the west-central region of Illinois was one of the few areas in the United States without a PBS station. Fringes of this region were served from PBS stations outside the region or state: WILL-TV in Urbana; WTVP in Peoria; and KIIN in West Branch, Iowa. Cable television networks in north-central Illinois communities and Macomb carried Iowa Public Television or WTVP PBS programming to their residents.
Origin, coining of the name 
In 1955, during the formation of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, the Chicago to Kansas City interstate route through the heart of this region was eliminated due to political objections from Iowa and St. Louis as well as various granger railroads serving this region. Missouri selected the Joplin (US 66) and Kansas City (US 40) to St. Louis corridors in 1956. Carthage College, in Hancock County, relocated its educational campus to Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1964.
Federal highway bills throughout the 1960s that included funding for a Chicago–Kansas City Expressway were defeated and removed from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. which added 1500 miles (2400 km) to the Interstate system (Interstate 15E in southern CA and Interstate 27 in northwest Texas). George H. Mahon, Texas member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1935 to 1979 and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee after 1964, helped secure funding for the Interstate 27 route. The reintroduction of the Chicago to Kansas City Expressway was again defeated in the US Congress in 1972. These political and congressional actions resulted in the rapid exodus of the region's businesses, long-time industries, and population by 1970. Those significant events were the catalysts for more vocal public protests by residents.
Variously described as a new U.S. state or an independent republic, Forgottonia eventually became a fictional political secession movement in the early 1970s conceived by residents of McDonough County, in the heart of this region. Western Illinois University student Neil Gamm was named governor, and the hamlet of Fandon near Colchester was to be Forgottonia's capital. The name would catch on because the region appeared to be "forgotten" by politicians and business developers.
Due to the loss of train service in 1971, with the creation of Amtrak, the State of Illinois intervened at the request of the region's residents, Quincy University, and Western Illinois University and public officials. This became part of the 1971 "Illinois Service" initiative and is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Developments since 1972 
Forty years later, some improvements were introduced to address these earlier transportation inequalities, but the US Census data (1960–2010) shows significant business relocation, population exodus, and growing poverty in the region.
From 1950 to 2012, these 3 states (Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri) have lost 17 seats in the United States House of Representatives. For Illinois this is a 31% drop, for Iowa a 50% drop, and for Missouri a 38% drop in national representation and political power. In this same 62 year period, the Forgottonia region of Illinois went from 3 US House Representative districts to 1 US House Representative District, shared with central or southern Illinois.
Amtrak Service and Expansion (1971−present) 
Denied access to the US Interstate highway network, the "Illinois Service" initiative for Amtrak rail service was approved in 1971. It is partially funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The Illinois Zephyr began daily round-trip service from Chicago to Quincy in 1971, through the heart of the region. The train service was never extended to either St. Louis or Kansas City from Quincy, Illinois. Amtrak's Southwest Chief already provided a Chicago to Kansas City route and the state of Missouri's "Missouri Service" only funded the extension of the Ann Rutledge to provide daily service between Kansas City and St. Louis with continuing services to Chicago via Springfield.
As part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative and Illinois's partnership with Amtrak an additional daily train service on the Chicago-Quincy line was added on October 30, 2006. This service expansion is part of the state sponsorship for increasing round-trip train service between Chicago and downstate cities from three daily to seven daily schedules. The new Carl Sandburg train joined the existing Illinois Zephyr train serving the western region of Illinois with train stops at Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb, and Quincy.
During fiscal year 2011, both the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg carried a combined 225,000 passengers, a 6.9% increase over FY2010. The two trains had a total revenue of $5,580,227 in FY2011, a 10.6% increase over FY2010.
Central Illinois Expressway / Interstate 72 (1978−2010) 
The Central Illinois Expressway, the Interstate 72 (I-72) Purple Heart Memorial Highway began in the late 1970s and was completed in 1991. The Interstate 172 spur for Quincy access to the Expressway was completed in 1995. This provided some relief for the southern counties and enabled Interstate access to the cities of Quincy, Pittsfield and Jacksonville from Springfield, Central Illinois and Indiana.
Two decades later, the Missouri Department of Transportation, as part of NAFTA High Priority Corridor 61 - Missouri corridors, completed their Interstate 72 and U.S. Route 36 Northern Missouri segment from Hannibal, MO through Cameron to St. Joseph, MO in August 2010. In coordination with Illinois DOT, the route from Cameron, MO to Hannibal, MO is marked as Chicago-Kansas City - Missouri Route 110.
Avenue of the Saints (1956, 1991−2010) 
In 1955, during the formation of the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, a St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri Interstate was studied. That route would have followed U.S. Route 61 from St. Paul through La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Dubuque, Iowa, to Davenport, Iowa, and then following U.S. Route 67 from Davenport through western Illinois crossing the new Clark Bridge at Alton to St. Louis. This routing would have been along U.S. Route 67, the major North-South arterial highway in the Western Illinois region. The Mississippi River barge companies raised political objections for a new federally funded competitor. This route was not selected in 1956.
In the 1980s, this North-South arterial highway for an Avenue of the Saints was revived by Mt. Pleasant, Iowa elected officials with support from the state of Missouri, lead by Dick Gephardt, House majority leader in 1989. Future Iowa governor and current Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, mayor of Mt. Pleasant from 1987 to 1992, was a strong supporter. This highway proposal was included as Corridor 2 in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (Public Law 102-240; ISTEA, pronounced "Ice-Tea") as a high priority North-South NAFTA corridor.
By the end of 1989, four possible routes for the Avenue of the Saints were under consideration by the Federal Highway Administration. Two of the rejected routes would have followed U.S. Route 52 and U.S. Route 63 from St. Paul through Rochester, Minnesota, to Waterloo, Iowa. The other route rejected was the 1955 proposed route following U.S. Route 67 through the heart of the Forgottonia region.
In 1990, the FHWA chose its route for the Avenue of the Saints: The Expressway would follow Interstate 35 from St. Paul to a point south of Clear Lake, Iowa; U.S. Route 18 to Charles City, Iowa; U.S. Route 218 to Cedar Falls, Iowa; Iowa Highway 58 and U.S. Route 20 around Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa; Interstate 380 from Waterloo through Cedar Rapids to Interstate 80 near Coralville, Iowa and Iowa City, Iowa; U.S. 218 to Donnellson, Iowa; Iowa Highway 394 and Route B to Wayland, Missouri; and following U.S. 61 and Interstate 64 from Wayland through Missouri, west of the Mississippi River, to St. Louis. The route exclusively serves Iowa and Missouri, using existing interstates in Minnesota and St. Louis area for routing to terminus "Saint" cities.
Chicago - Kansas City Tollway (1956−1958; 1989 studies) 
In 1956, Kansas had just completed their Kansas Turnpike from the Oklahoma border to Kansas City, while the Indiana Toll Road and Ohio Turnpike were completed from the Pennsylvania Turnpike terminus near Youngstown, Ohio to Gary, Indiana at the Illinois state line, just southeast of Chicago. In 1955 Iowa approved an Iowa Tollway authority and began planning for connecting Council Bluffs, IA to the Quad Cities at the Illinois border. At that time, Illinois and Missouri were not interested in supporting a privately financed tollway to connect these completed tollways at Gary, Indiana and Kansas City, Kansas. The City of Chicago financed and completed the Chicago Skyway in 1958 to provide Chicago access to those eastern tollways. The Illinois legislature focused on building the Tri-State Tollway as a Chicago bypass from the Indiana Toll Road to the Wisconsin border.
In 1989, this idea was revisited. A tri-state economic and highway study was performed and found that a full, limited-access tollway running from the Kansas Turnpike at Kansas City to the Indiana Toll Road at Gary or Tri-State Tollway near the Joliet area would cost $2 to $2.5 billion, if funded entirely by private investors.
The study was useful in providing an expenditure number (1989 dollars) to Illinois and Missouri legislatures and public officials for building the highway. Missouri DOT's higher priority from 1989 to 2000 was completing their section of the Avenue of the Saints and 2000 to 2010 for completing the Missouri portion of Interstate 72. Illinois DOT was struggling in 1990s with funding to finish existing highway upgrade projects (Interstate 39, Interstate 172) from the 1980s.
Illinois Route 336 (2001−present) 
In 2009, the construction of Illinois Route 336 from Quincy was extended from Carthage to Macomb partially built along former U. S. Route 136 alignment, on which it runs concurrently, and a new alignment bypassing Tennessee and Colchester to end temporarily west of Macomb. This provides these communities (Quincy, Carthage, Macomb) with a southwestern connection (Kansas City and St. Joseph, MO) to Interstate 72. A bypass around Macomb has been proposed, but is not currently funded.
Cannon Ball Route / Illinois Route 110 (1917−1941; 2010) 
In 1917 the Illinois State Highway Department, a precursor to the modern-day Illinois Department of Transportation, produced a Map of Marked Routes for the new automotive owner. The route from Hannibal, MO to Chicago, IL roughly paralleling the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, was marked as the Cannon Ball Route.
In a joint resolution between the Illinois House and Senate in late May 2010, an expressway project connecting Chicago-to-Kansas City will be named Illinois Route 110. The path, 532 miles in total, follows parts of the existing Illinois Route 336, Interstate 88, Interstate 172, Interstate 72, Interstate 74, U.S. Route 136, U.S. Route 67, and connect the cities of Quincy, Macomb, Galesburg, a number of communities of the Chicago metropolitan area, including Chicago itself on Interstate 290.
How the States Got Their Shapes (2011) 
In 2011, The History Channel series How the States Got Their Shapes focused its third episode to the historic inequality given to this Illinois region, as a result of Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (Public Law 84-627) and later legislation. Neil Gamm was interviewed in 2011 for the series. Neil Gamm passed away in November 16, 2012 at the age of 65.
Uncompleted projects 
River Bridges 
Since the 1970s, new Mississippi River highway bridges providing western access (Missouri, Iowa) to this region have been built: Mark Twain Memorial Bridge at Hannibal, Bayview Bridge at Quincy, Keokuk-Hamilton Bridge at Keokuk-Hamilton, and the Great River Bridge at Burlington. The railroads, serving the region, Kansas City Southern Railway, BNSF Railway, and Norfolk Southern Railway have replaced, performed major upgrades, or demolished their Mississippi and Illinois river bridges.
However, the Illinois River highway bridges providing eastern access to central Illinois, especially at Hardin, Florence, Meredosia, Beardstown, Havana, Lacon, and Henry are over 50 years old. While Illinois DOT has performed major maintenance on these structures, they are not currently funded for replacement.
U.S. Route 67 in Illinois 
In 1990, U.S. Route 67 in Missouri was designated as NAFTA Corridor 61, but north of St. Louis U.S. Route 67 in Illinois, through the heart of this region, does not carry this NAFTA priority designation. Portions of U. S. Route 67 in Illinois north of Macomb were upgraded to a four lane expressway with bypasses around Monmouth and Roseville. It is four-lane but with many at-grade intersections and a few signals. A bypass around Jacksonville has been completed which extends from near Chapin to the north to near Roodhouse to the south. Except for the expressway near Jacksonville, no other sections from Macomb extending south to Alton have been completed. A new section of four-lane highway, near Chapin, is to open in 2013. Sections farther north have some studies completed and right-of-way bought; no funding is in place to upgrade or complete further studies.
U.S. Route 34 to Burlington 
The Great River Bridge at Burlington, IA was completed and open to traffic on October 4, 1993. The Iowa Department of Transportation completed the Des Moines to Burlington expressway project (4-lane) on November 18, 2008. This expressway intersects the Avenue of the Saints at Mt. Pleasant.
Since 1993, the Illinois portion of U.S. Route 34 has been incomplete between the new Great River Bridge at Gulfport, Illinois to the eastern edge of Monmouth, Illinois. If and when the 4-lane to Monmouth is complete, U.S. Route 34 would merge with U.S. Route 67 at the south western edge of Monmouth and a new limited access bypass south and southeast of Monmouth connecting with the existing 4-lane U.S. Route 34 and continuing east to Galesburg.
By 2020, U.S. Route 34 across southern Iowa between Ottumwa, Iowa and Plattsmouth, Nebraska is planned for Super-2 upgrades with a new bridge across the Missouri River bridge to Nebraska as part of these upgrades. Nebraska is studying an upgrade of their U.S. Route 34 section between Plattsmouth and Interstate 80, near Lincoln, Nebraska.
Macomb to Peoria Expressway 
By 2003, the Macomb to Peoria Expressway, through the former coal mining regions of Fulton County was planned and routes proposed, but is not currently funded (DOT Job No. P94-025-00 URS Job No. 25364560; July 7, 2003). Hence, Peoria and Fulton Counties have no direct (short distance) highway route to Hannibal/Quincy or NAFTA trade routes to southwestern USA and Mexico. There are Fulton county opponents for improved highway access. The interchange (Exit 3) at Illinois Route 6 for this expressway segment was completed in the late 1970s.
Peoria to Chicago Highway 
Peoria, Illinois, at the eastern edge of the region, failed in the 1990s to gain central Illinois support for completing the Peoria-to-Chicago Highway, which was the eastern segment for the original 1955 routing of the Chicago–Kansas City Expressway.
Peoria was bypassed in the 2010 Chicago–Kansas City Expressway / Illinois Route 110 alignment by the Illinois legislature.
14 Forgottonia counties 
These are the 14 counties from Neal Gamm's original list. These Illinois county governments joined the movement in 1972.
The unincorporated village of Bernadotte, in Fulton County, which is four miles north of Ipava on the Spoon River, has the distinction of having once been considered as the site for the capital of Illinois, prior to the capital being located at Vandalia in 1820. Vandalia was selected over Bernadotte by the difference of one vote. The 2010 US Census population of Forgottonia (14 counties) is 324,389 residents.
Colleges and universities 
- Western Illinois University (WIU) is a public university located in Macomb.
- Knox College is a private liberal arts college located in Galesburg.
- Carl Sandburg College is a two-year community college based in Galesburg with a branch campus located in Carthage and an extension center located in Bushnell.
- Quincy University is a private liberal arts Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition located in Quincy.
- John Wood Community College is a two-year community college located in Quincy with educational centers in Pittsfield, Perry, and Mt. Sterling.
- Spoon River College is a two-year community college located near Canton with a second campus in Macomb and learning centers in Havana and Rushville.
- Illinois College is a private liberal arts college located in Jacksonville, affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA).
- MacMurray College is a private liberal arts college located in Jacksonville.
- Monmouth College is a private liberal arts college located in Monmouth.
See also 
- Cannon Ball Route
- Category:Secession in the United States
- Conch Republic, similar movement covering the Florida Keys
- "Gone, But not Forgottonia". Peoria Journal Star. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- Nathan Woodside (December 28, 2010). "When we seceded: Remembering Forgottonia". McDonough County Voice. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- "M-R238 Strategic Plan: Is Wheaton-Warrenville an Appropriate Comparison?". Blogging Forgottonia. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- Sue Ebetsch, Coordinator (2011). "2000 & 2010 Census Comparisons". Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. Retrieved 1 July 2012.
- "Television on the United States, Educational Television". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 01 May, 2012.
- Weingroff, Richard F. (June 1, 1996). "Three States Claim First Interstate Highway". Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
- Carthage College history
- Federal Highway Administration, FHWA By Day: December 13, accessed July 2012
- Origin of Forgottonia
- Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X.
- "Former Macomb mayor to chair Amtrak board". Chicago Tribune. February 2, 2009. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
- "Amtrak Ridership Rolls Up Best-Ever Records" (PDF). Amtrak. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- Wes Smith (21 February 1993). "It Was A Long, Hard-built Road Out of Forgottonia". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- Krasnowski, Matt (1989-12-22). "Chicago-Kansas City Expresway Cost Set At $2.5 Billion". The State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL). Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Senate Joint Resolution 118". 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-08-19., 96th Illinois General Assembly.
- Hilkevitch, John (2010-08-22). "Getting Around: By the numbers". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-08-23.[dead link]
- WGEM. "Connecting Quincy to the Country". WGEM.
- "Chicago-Kansas City Expressway corridor becomes a reality". Daily Gate City (Keokuk, IA). 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- Wilson, Doug (2010-06-30). "Chicago-Kansas City Expressway a reality after six-decade effort". Quincy Herald Whig. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "The Great Plains, Trains, & Automobiles"
- "Neil Gamm, Forgottonia's former governor, passes"
- "Neal Gamm gone, but not 'Forgottonia' Man who was one of three credited with coining term for western Illinois is among 2012's departed"
- http://www.tricountyrpc.org/land-use-documents Fulton County Corridor Study
- http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/profile/IL Illinois 2010 Census profile, by county
- http://www2.illinois.gov/census/Pages/Census2010Data.aspx Illinois 2010 Census Data
- Nowlan, J.D. 1998. From Lincoln to Forgottonia. Illinois Issues 24(9):27-30.
- Outfitters.com. McDonough County, Illinois, USA.
- Wilson, Doug (2010-06-30). "Chicago-Kansas City Expressway a reality after six-decade effort". Quincy Herald Whig. Retrieved 2010-08-19
- History Channel, 2011. "The Great Plains, Trains, & Automobiles" episode 3 of How The States Got Their Shapes