Metropolis, located in Massac County on the banks of the Ohio River, has played key roles in America's history. It is believed that Native Americans originally populated this area, taking advantage of its natural benefits.

In 1757, Massac County began its documented history when the French raised Fort De L'Ascension during the French and Indian War. The fort was soon rebuilt and named Massaic in tribute to France's Minister of the Marine. The site was subjected to only one unsuccessful Cherokee attack during this time.

The French abandoned the fort after the war. When the British later arrived to take over the site, they discovered only burnt ruins; the fort had been destroyed by the Chickasaw.

During the Revolutionary War, in 1778, George Rogers Clark and his regiment of "Long Knives" successfully entered Illinois at Massac Creek and ventured 100 miles north to conquer Kaskaskia without firing a shot. This action won the entire Illinois territory for the State of Virginia and the still-growing United States.

In November of 1803, Merriweather Lewis and William Clark camped at Fort Massac as they made preparations for their Corps of Discovery expedition to the west. George Drouillard was recruited during their stay at Fort Massac.

General George Washington ordered the fort reconstructed in 1794. It served as a military post for the next 20 years. Damaged by the infamous New Madrid earthquake of 1811-12, Fort Massac was abandoned in 1814, and its timbers scavenged by local settlers, leaving behind little of its original construction.

In 1839 the town of Metropolis was platted, situated about a mile west of the fort grounds. One of the town founders was a merchant who transported goods on the Ohio River. He picked the site because it was high above the river, with the hope that it would become a major transportation hub. In 1843, the Illinois Legislature formed Massac County.

Soldiers once again were encamped here during the early years of the Civil War, when the area was used as a training camp.

The Daughters of the American Revolution rallied efforts in 1903 to purchase the 24 acres surrounding the historic location, and in 1908 Fort Massac was officially decreed as Illinois' first state park.

As envisioned by its founders, Metropolis, and its Ohio River locale, has played an important part in American history.