This rock bluff on the edge of the Mississippi River floodplain was undercut at its base by Ice Age floods. First inhabitants used this natural rock shelter as far back as 9,000 years ago. Archeologists excavated and studied the site in the 1950s and 60s revealing three prehistoric periods of habitation and historic uses by Native Americans and European settlers traveling on the KCT. On site exhibits interpret the history of the site.
Ste. Genevieve-Modoc Ferry
In the small community of Modoc, the road going west (follow the signs) takes you to the Modoc River Ferry on the Mississippi River. This commercial fee ferry takes you to the northern edge of the French colonial village of Ste. Genevieve, Mo. and on to HWY 61 South which will take you to the bridge to Kaskaskia Island in St. Mary, Mo. and the “new” Kaskaskia Village. This is the southern end of the KCT and its origin. The ferry operates during daylight hours, year-round except when river conditions are unsafe. for more information.
Ste. Genevieve, Missouri
Originally established in 1735 as a French colonial settlement, this is Missouri’s oldest town today. The community’s French Colonial National Landmark Historic District features many original, historic and internationally recognized French colonial architecture homes open for tours. Quaint and historic downtown shops, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and area wineries and breweries make Ste. Genevieve a great place to visit with many attractions. In 2018, the National Park Service designated Ste. Genevieve as a National Historic Park, which is currently under development.
US Army Corps of Engineers Kaskaskia River Recreation Area and the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam
The Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam provides for commercial navigation on the lower 36 miles of the Kaskaskia River with a reliable connection to the Mississippi River for waterborne shipping of bulk commodities. Visitors are welcome to the lock to view barges and tows passing through. The Corps Recreation Area offers visitor information, boat ramps, campground, picnic facilities, and the one-mile Confluence Heritage Trail where the Kaskaskia and Mississippi Rivers converge.
Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site/Garrison Hill Cemetery
First built in 1751 and further improved in 1759, Fort Kaskaskia was built on Garrison Hill bluff overlooking the original French Colonial Kaskaskia Village and the two rivers
to provide defense from the hostile British and their Native American allies leading up to, and during the French and Indian War. The fort was destroyed by the French after they lost the war in 1763 to avoid seizure by the British. A large group shelter overlooks the confluence of the Kaskaskia River, the old Kaskaskia Village area, and the section of Illinois now known as Kaskaskia Island that is isolated on the Missouri side of the river due to the historic river course change that began in April 1881. Fort Kaskaskia SHS offers camping, picnic areas, and interpretive signage.
Pierre Menard Home SHS
The historic Pierre Menard home is located nearby at the base of Garrison Hill. Menard, Illinois’ first Lt. Governor, built the home around the 1800s before llinois became a state, and Kaskaskia served as the first state capital. The home was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 1970. The Menard Home is one of the finest examples of French architecture in the Midwest and opens in May for warm-month visits.
Chester Welcome Center
The Chester Welcome Center is located at the entrance to the Chester Bridge and includes several exhibits and regional visitor information.
Governor Shadrach Bond State Memorial
in Evergreen Cemetery
In Chester’s Evergreen Cemetery, you can visit the Governor Shadrach Bond State Memorial. Bond served as Illinois’ first governor.
Randolph County Courthouse & Museum and Archives
Chester is the Randolph County seat of government. The Randolph County Courthouse complex includes the Randolph County Museum and Archives, the Plaza of Flags noting the various governments that controlled Illinois through history, and National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Monument that memorializes “Where Illinois Began”, with pictures of the “Liberty Bell of the West”. This location is on a bluff overlooking the scenic Mississippi River and Missouri and Illinois bottomlands. The fifth floor of the courthouse is a scenic outlook with a ring of windows.
Popeye Statue and Character Trail (Elzie C. Segar Park)
Chester is home to the late Elzie Segar, creator of Popeye the Sailor Man and his many associated comic characters. Chester celebrates Segar and his world famous comic characters with annual festivals, a Popeye Character Trail located throughout town, a Segar Park and gift shops selling Popeye memorabilia. 618-826-2721, chesterill.com
On the center of the island you can visit the very small and rural relocated Village of Kaskaskia. This community was established over time from the late 1890’s until the 1930’s as the river channel course change widened and eroded the banks of the Mississippi River on both sides. Eventually the original town site was used as farmland with about 20 acres of the 325 acres incoporated town site becoming part of the river. Today the island is ringed by a Federal levee. Record floods of 1973 and 1993 breached the levee and they were repaired.
Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial
This bell was forged in France and given to the colonists of the original village of Kaskaskia in 1741 by King Louis XV. The Bell has been known as the “Liberty Bell of the West” since the American Revolutionary War. On July 4, 1778, the bell was rung by Father Pierre Gibault in celebration of Colonel George Rogers Clark’s capture of Kaskaskia as part of his successful western front campaign to defeat the British and claim the western territories for America.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
Located next to the Bell Shrine is the fifth building of the historic Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. This existing church building was constructed in 1838 in the original village. In 1894, after the river course change began, the structure was moved to its current location, brick by numbered brick. This historic church was started in 1675 under the Archdiocese of Quebec and became a sanctioned parish in 1718 that has remained continuously active.
La Grande Rue
La Grande Rue (the great road) is the main road that traverses the island north-south and was a part of the original KCT, or the Kings Road as it was called in the 1700s. This road was the connection between the new Kaskaskia Village and the old 1703 village, Prairie du Rocher, and Fort de Chartres, but now disappears into the floodplain forest and river at the northeastern end of the island with little trace of the old village.