• LOCATION 51 | Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL

    Coal Field Rest Area

    We are now approaching the Coal Field Rest Area, aptly named for the impact coal has had on this part of Illinois. And why is there so much coal beneath the surface of Illinois? To answer this question, we must first understand continental drift.

    At our current location, we are approximately 2,700 miles north of the equator and 4,500 miles west of the Prime Meridian, that imaginary line that runs through Greenwich England and connects the North and South pole. However, if 300 million years ago, we were at this exact location relative to the equator and the Prime Meridian, we would not be above land, but in the middle of a really really large ocean. That’s because 300 million years ago, the land below us now, and all of the land that makes up North and South America today, was part of a giant supercontinent called Pangea, located roughly where Europe and Africa are today.

    Pangea began to break up about 175 million years ago and the Americas began drifting Westward. Fossil records and satellite technology have confirmed that the Earth’s current continents were not only once together, but that they continue to drift. North America drifts about an inch west every year and the Atlantic Ocean widens by a of couple inches each year.

    And so, what does continental drift have to do with all the coal beneath the surface of Illinois? That will be answered after we pass the village of Waggoner.

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Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL