Exploring Fort Massac State Park And Visitor Center
On November 5, 1908, Fort Massac was officially declared Illinois’ first state park.
Because of its extensive history, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
In 1757, during the French and Indian War, the French built a fort on the site named Fort De L’Ascension. The fort was rebuilt in 1759 and renamed Massiac in honor of the current French Minister of Colonial Affairs.
After the war, the French abandoned the fort and it was burnt down by local Native Americans.
The fort was rebuilt in 1794, by order of President George Washington, and renamed Fort Massac.
Over the years it sat on the banks of the Ohio River protecting the nation through the Northwest Indian War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War.
The fort was rebuilt multiple times due to destruction from locals and even an earthquake.
In 2002 a replica of the 1802 American fort was constructed and is what visitors have the opportunity to explore today. While you can’t go inside any of the buildings you are free to walk around the encampment and take pictures.
The outlines of the original fort can still be seen next to the George Rogers Clark statue located next to the replica fort.
Each October reenactors gather for the Fort Massac Encampment Festival.
Presentations and demonstrations recreate 18th-century life in Illinois during the festival. Visitors encounter military drills and mock battles and have the opportunity to eat food from the period.
The park has multiple shelters, picnic areas, and playgrounds scattered around the grounds for visitors to enjoy every day of the week.
There are a couple of hiking trails and since it’s right on the Ohio river it’s a popular spot for fishermen.
While visiting the park be sure to stop at the visitor center as well.
The center has many great displays on the history of the fort and surrounding region as well as a number of amazing Native American artifacts.
There is a small gift shop and if you have time you can watch a video about the history of Fort Massac.
If you need a place to stay they also have a small campground that we stayed at multiple times and really enjoyed. You can learn more about the campground here.
Fort Massac State Park is located in the town of Metropolis which just happens to be the “Home of Superman” and has a lot of great little attractions and a casino.
Learn more about the town here.
If you’re in this section of Illinois I would recommend checking out Fort Massac. It’s a neat little park teeming with history.