Tuesday, July 22, 2014
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Boom! Volcano and Illinois statehood
Author to describe amazing impact of Tambora eruption July 23 at Old State Capitol

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[July 22, 2014]  SPRINGFIELD - Mount Tambora exploded in a mammoth eruption in 1815. Three years later and half a world away, Illinois became a state. What’s the connection?

Author Gillen D’Arcy Wood will explain on Wednesday, July 23, during a presentation at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. The free event begins at 6 p.m.

Wood’s new book, “Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World,” examines the impact of the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. It pulverized a mile and a half of mountain, creating clouds of dust and gas that circled the globe. The result was an ecological disaster.

Temperature changes led to a cholera outbreak in south Asia that killed tens of thousands. Crops failed in Europe, causing famines. In New England, 1816 was so cold they called it “year without a summer.”

The tragedies led many people to seek better luck in new places, including Illinois. They could obtain land for relatively little money. They could feed their cattle on abundant prairie grasses. The new settlers helped make Illinois a state.

Wood, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will describe the eruption’s impact and what is says about modern ecological issues. He’ll also sign copies of the book, which is getting strong reviews.

The Wall Street Journal calls it “by far the best on the subject.” The Chicago Tribune praises it as “a compelling and haunting narrative.”

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Gillen’s appearance is sponsored by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the Sangamon County Historical Society and the Illinois State Historical Society.

The Old State Capitol, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, was Illinois’ fifth capitol building and the first in Springfield. For more information, please visit www.illinoishistory.gov


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