Ever wondered who holds the title of the largest landowner in Illinois? Prepare for a surprise, because it's not who you might expect.

Topping the charts with approximately 38,000 acres is none other than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church. Yup, you read that right – a religious organization reigns supreme as the biggest landowner in the state.

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But why would a church need so much land, you ask? Well, considering the grand temples they construct, such as the magnificent one in Nauvoo, Illinois, it's no wonder they require substantial acreage. With around 118 congregations located throughout Illinois, it's no wonder they need acres upon acres of land.

Big Landowners in the Nation

And it's not just Illinois – across the United States, there are some surprising candidates for the title of largest landowner. Take, for example, Bill Gates, who owns over 260,000 acres of farmland, securing his position as America's largest private landowner. It's a giant amount of land that, to put it in perspective, looks like something out of a Yellowstone episode.

Largest Landowner in Missouri

Meanwhile, in Missouri, the landscape is just as intriguing. The state's largest landowner is a company dedicated to preserving 153,000 acres of Ozark woodlands. Their mission? To study and conserve the diverse array of species that call this lush region home.

So, the next time you stare out onto a giant portion of land in either Illinois or Missouri, remember that behind every acre lies a unique story of ownership – one that may just surprise you.

Counties with the Most Farmland in Illinois

Stacker compiled a list of counties with the most farmland in Illinois using data from the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

LOOK: Counties with the Warmest Summers in Illinois

Stacker compiled a list of the counties with the warmest summers in Illinois.

Gallery Credit: Stacker

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