Prairie Observatory – Oakland, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

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Prairie Observatory

Oakland, Illinois

An abandoned observatory in the middle of the Illinois prairie.  


The Prairie Observatory first opened in the 1960s and closed in the early 1980s.

The observatory was once a place for astronomers from The University of Illinois to view the night sky far from bright city lights. Today, the building is covered with graffiti and overgrown vines. It looks more like something from a Hollywood postapocalyptic thriller than a place of science and research. 

The site can be accessed from a nearby parking lot or by following the scenic hiking trails from Walnut Point State Park.

Know Before You Go

The path from the state park may be flooded and is a moderately difficult hike. Entering the building is forbidden and can be dangerous. Although the floors are solid throughout, there are fall hazards and ledges without railings that can present a danger in the dark environment. Best viewed from a safe distance. 

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June 4, 2021

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