Ten years ago there was just a single Popeye statue in downstate Chester; today the town has monuments to Olive Oyl, Swee’ Pea, Bluto, the Sea Hag, and more. The creepy Piasa Bird petroglyph on the bluff overlooking Alton now has a roadside pullout with picnic tables, and the two-story outhouse in Gays has a new contemplative garden. Not surprisingly, the second edition of Oddball Illinois has almost twice as many destinations as its predecessor, including new sites such as Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, the World’s First Jungle Gym, Ahlgrim Acres (a miniature golf course at a funeral home), the Leather Archives and Museum, General Santa Ana’s two wooden legs, the World’s Largest Sock Monkey, the Friendship Shoe Fence, a truck stop with a marionette show, and a coin-operated fire-breathing dragon. This offbeat travel guide won’t point out the hottest club in Chicago, the quaintest small-town bed-and-breakfast, or the most scenic hiking trail in Illinois.
This book will, however, tell about the locations of America’s One and Only Hippie Memorial, the World’s Largest Laundromat, Scarlett O’Hara’s green drapes, and several places the local Chambers of Commerce would just as soon forget. Behind all the odd sights is some wonderfully interesting history and a chance to see some underappreciated sites throughout the state.