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updated: 5/6/2013 6:58 AM

Scenic, struggling S. Illinois braces for oil rush

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  • The Sweetwater Saloon dominates main street, taking up most of the block in Golconda, Ill. John Towns, owner of the Sweetwater Saloon says oil drilling would not bother him a bit. Southern Illinoisans have hopes and fears surrounding the high-volume oil and gas drilling that may be starting in the Shawnee National Forest.

      The Sweetwater Saloon dominates main street, taking up most of the block in Golconda, Ill. John Towns, owner of the Sweetwater Saloon says oil drilling would not bother him a bit. Southern Illinoisans have hopes and fears surrounding the high-volume oil and gas drilling that may be starting in the Shawnee National Forest.

 
Associated Press

This is the illinois that many people never see -- the sparsely populated southern tip where flat farmland gives way to rolling hills, rocky outcrops, thick forests and cypress swamps. blacktopped county roads wend through no-stoplight towns. locals speak in soft drawls and talk of generations who've lived on the same land or in the same villages. the remote and rugged shawnee national forest attracts hikers,

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