The Wabash River
forms the border between the southeast portion of this region and Indiana. The Ohio River
is the border with Kentucky at its southernmost tip and the Mississippi separates it from Missouri to the west. Three land areas comprise this region, from north to south: the Till Plains, given over to farming; the Shawnee Hills, consisting of valleys, woods and river bluffs; and the extreme northern end of the Gulf (of Mexico) Coastal Plain. Interstates 57 and 64 traverse this region from north to south and east to west, respectively.
There are many outdoor adventure opportunities in this area. Southwest of Newton in Jasper County, the 780-acre Newton Lake SFWA hosts a variety of wildlife, including two Illinois endangered species, the prairie-chicken and the river otter. A 1,775-acre cooling lake offers excellent fishing, ample picnic areas, and a picturesque shoreline trail system.
Other points of interest include the historic Mt. Vernon Appellate Courthouse, which was transformed into a hospital by Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, following a monster tornado in 1888. Lincoln tried a case here in 1859. The Shawnee National Forest near Harrisburg consists of more than 268,400 acres. It protects at least seven federally-listed threatened and endangered species listed as regionally sensitive, and more than 114 Forest-listed species of plants and animals. The forest has 81 natural areas as well as a system of 338 miles of equestrian/hiking trails, 16 campgrounds and 27 picnic areas.