Kaskaskia DragonShould you happen to find yourself traveling down I-70 and feel the need for a quick stop, try exit 61.  That’s where you’ll find him, in all his fire-breathing glory.

Built in 1995 by Vandalia business-owner Walt Barenfanger, the forty-foot monster is complete with glowing red eyes and plumes of fire blasting from its nose and mouth.  Originally built as an attraction to draw customers, the dragon has become a fascinating roadside attraction.  All you need to do to witness the flaming beast is purchase a one dollar token at the neighboring True Value hardware store.

The Dragon was constructed by Paul Schaub, a local welder, and includes more than four tons of scrap metal wrapped around a large propane tank.

You can find this incredible bit of roadside art at: 2024 Progress West Dr., Vandalia, IL

Learn More:
A 5 Day Midwest Adventure: Day 5 – Columbia, St. Louis, Ra66it Ranch and a Fire Breathing Dragon
Watch him breathe fire (and find a map)

Did You Know? Betty White was born in IllinoisBetty White was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois. She is 92 years old and is the only surviving Golden Girl.

In 2013, the Guinness World Records awarded White with having the longest television career for a female entertainer.

In a television and film career that has spanned over 70 years, White has won seven Emmy Awards, received 21 Emmy nominations and is the only woman to have won an Emmy in all performing comedic categories. However, in her early career she was turned down by studios for being “unphotogenic.”

She also received the honorary title of the Mayor of Hollywood in 1955 and has been formally inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame.

A grassroots campaign on Facebook called "Betty White to Host SNL (Please)" began in January 2010. The group was approaching 500,000 members when NBC confirmed that White would in fact host Saturday Night Live on May 8. The appearance made her, at age 88, the oldest person to host the show.

White is also known for her animal rights activism. She has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Los Angeles Zoo and has been a member of the board of directors since 1974.

Illinois ranks as the third best state for teen driversIn a recent study conducted by personal finance website WalletHub, weighing factors ranging from teen driver fatalities and car repair costs to texting-while-driving laws, the company found that only New York and Hawaii rank higher than the Prairie State in teen driving safety and cost efficiency.

The goal of the list was to bring awareness to teen safety and the financial costs associated with teen drivers.

Illinois ranks best in impaired driving laws and distracted driving/texting-while-driving laws, while placing second in least number of teen “under the influence” traffic violations per licensed driver.

Young people aged 15 to 24 only represent 14 percent of the population, but they account for about 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries. With an average of 260 teen deaths a month due to car accidents, ranking near the top of this list is one of our state’s brightest and most important achievements.

Learn more
Visit here, for a complete list of the best and worst states for teen driving in 2014, according to WalletHub.
For a comprehensive assessment of national teen driving statistics, click here.


For better or worse, cell phones are a cornerstone of our current lifestyle. But they haven’t always been. Martin Cooper of Motorola, a Fortune 500 technology company still headquartered in the Chicago suburbs, invented the cell phone.

Cooper’s 1973 prototype cell phone weighed 2.5 pounds and took 10 hours to charge. All it did was place and receive calls, and Cooper could only talk on it for 35 minutes before the battery died.

Five years later, AT&T launched the nation’s first trial cell service in Chicago.

In 1984, Motorola started selling the first publicly available cell phone. Their size and weight decreased over the years, and the rest is history.

Learn more
Want to know more about Motorola? Visit the company’s website for a cool timeline of its biggest innovations.

Curious about Martin Cooper? Click here to read the story of the cell phone.


Unless someone printed this article on paper and handed it to you, you’re probably reading it on a Web browser.

Web browsers are our windows into the Internet. We use Web browsers to search, read articles and watch videos. Without a Web browser, the Internet is just endless lines of code.

The first true Web browser was invented at the University of Illinois in 1993. Its name was Mosaic, created by Marc Andreessen and his team. For the first time, Internet users could view text and pictures on the same page, and they could access the World Wide Web using a Windows personal computer.

Most people probably don’t remember Mosaic. But what about Netscape? For a decade beginning in 1994, it was one of the world’s dominant Web browsers at a time when individuals and institutions were finding their way online. The same team that invented Mosaic went on to create Netscape, which evolved into Mozilla’s Firefox. They shaped the way we view the Internet forever.

Learn more
See this cool (and abundantly nerdy) timeline of the evolution of the Web.

Watch this PC World slide show on the history of Web browsers.

Read our story about the University of Illinois – one of the nation’s top engineering and tech schools.