Fort de Chartres, Illinois

Next weekend is a big weekend in the Illinois County. Every year for the past 44 years, on the first weekend in June, the Commandant of Fort de Chartres in the Illinois County calls re-enactors from all across the county to a Rendezvous. Far off the beaten path, about 60 miles south of St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, rests the remains of an Eighteenth Century French Colony. The population of the colony never reached more than 2000 inhabitant, but it played a significant part in the colonial expansion of the French Empire. For French outposts in the Mississippi River Valley and the Caribbean the Illinois Colony was the breadbasket. Fort de Chartres was the center of commerce and government of this colony.

There were three Forts de Chartres. The first was built in 1719 by Pierre Duque, Sieur de Boisbrant the newly appointed commander of the Illinois Country. But conditions in the Illinois Country were severe. By 1726, the flood waters of the Mississippi had destroyed much of this two bastioned wooden palisade fort. A second fort also made of wooden palisades met the same end by the end of the 1730s.

By this time the Illinois Country was becoming important to the Compagnie des Indes for its production of wheat and salt. The economy of the French in Illinois did include some fur trading and mining, but for the vast majority of the inhabitants farming was the chief occupation during most of the year.

The convoys from the Illinois country carried to the Gulf settlements, in 1748, 800,000 pounds of flour alone. Besides the flour the cargoes were made up of corn, bacon, hams from the bear as well as the hog, salt pork, buffalo meat, tallow, hides, tobacco, lead, copper, small quantities of buffalo wool, venison, bear’s oil, tongues, poultry and peltry, chiefly, however, the loads were made up of pork and flour.

In 1752 the shipment from Illinois to New Orleans was reported as “unusually large”. By the middle of the 1750s and well into the French and Indian War, Illinois supplied grain not only to Louisiana and the Caribbean but also to the outposts in the Ohio River Valley. This included Fort Ouiatenon, Massac, and Fort Duquesne.

Construction on the third Fort de Chartres began in the early 1750. Unlike its predecessors this fort was a four bastioned stone fortification. By the end of 1753 this new fort was pretty much complete. A visitor to the Fort today will see a reconstruction of this 1753 fort built atop the ruins of the original stone fort.

Location and Directions

Lewis and Clark State Memorial, Camp Dubois, Illinois

2013-04-29_11-47-55_959Arriving in St. Louis in December, 1803, Lewis and Clark were busily engaged in acquiring the final supplies needed for the voyage. It was their intention to make a winter camp at La Charrette, on the Missouri. The local Spanish authority, however, would not allow them to enter the Louisiana territory as he had not yet received official documents transferring title of the territory. The Captains were therefore forced to make camp on the east side of the Mississippi River, at the mouth of the Wood River. This camp was named Camp Dubois, and is also known as Camp Wood. The expedition spent the winter months training, preparing for the journey and running afoul of the Captains, as discipline during the first winter was lacking. The actual campsite has been destroyed by river channel migration. A monument to the camp is located in Lewis and Clark State Memorial Park.

Location and Directions

Links: Lewis and Clark State Memorial, Camp Dubois, Illinois

Lincoln Home National Historic Site

The only home Abraham Lincoln ever owned was a two-story house in Springfield, Illinois. The house was constructed in 1839 as a one-story cottage. The Lincolns added the second story during their residence there from 1844 until Mr. Lincoln’s election to the Presidency in 1861. The home, which has been restored to its 1860s appearance, stands in the midst of a four-block historic neighborhood. The National Park Service is currently restoring the neighborhood, so that it will also appear much as did in Lincoln’s time.

Address: 413 S 8th St, Springfield, IL
Phone: (217) 492-4241
Web Address:
Click here for a map showing the location of the Lincoln Home.