Sucker Bets 101: Illinois lies east of the Mississippi

Dear Cecil:

A guy in a bar tried to bet me that Illinois doesn't really lie east of the Mississippi. This sounded like an obvious trick to me so I didn't bet him. But my curiosity is aroused, Cecil. What's the gag?

Cecil replies:

Cecil replies:

You are clearly a very prudent young man, Robert. I predict a bright future for you in investment counseling.

Not all of Illinois lies east of the Mississippi. Kaskaskia township, an area of about 27 square miles in downstate Illinois, slops over onto the west bank of the river. During a flood in April 1881, the Mississippi–which serves, for most purposes, as the state’s legal western border–lost its self-control and cut over into the small Kaskaskia River, forming a new channel about four miles east of its old course. The people of Kaskaskia, alarmed at finding themselves in Missouri, insisted that the border between the states adhere to the old outlines of the river.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

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