Illinois, Massac County, Metropolis
river mile 942
Fort Massac was Illinois’ first state park, proposed by a professor of horticulture who was impressed by its beauty, championed by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and established in 1908. It’s a large park with the classic city park landscape of overarching large deciduous trees and acres of mowed lawn. It has all the facilities common to such parks: picnic tables, picnic shelters, playgrounds, a boat launch, and others, including a good campground. Bicyclists and paddlers would have no difficulty camping, and supplies and services are located in the adjacent city of Metropolis.
The highlight of the park is a reconstruction of the American fort of 1802, which sits on top of the bluff just a few feet upstream of the archaeological site that contains the remains of the British and French forts that preceded it. A good visitor’s center explains the fort’s role in the Seven Years’ War in the Americas (1754-1763), a global conflict between the imperial powers of Great Britain and France which embraced Indian nations in the Americas into the conflict on both sides. The visitors’ center also highlights the local peoples of a different era, the native Americans from archaic to post-contact times whose stone implements are abundant in the area. Many thousands of them were collected by local residents, who gave their collections to this small museum. The explanatory text does a good job of reconciling the interests of collectors with those of archaeologists. The museum also has a small display about a vanished industry: making buttons from the mussels that formerly were abundant in the river.
Next park: Dorothy Miller Park
Field research June 2018