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
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.
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.
once again were encamped here during the early years of the
Civil War, when the area was used as a training camp.
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.
envisioned by its founders, Metropolis, and its Ohio River locale,
has played an important part in American history.