Saturday, November 15, 2014

I&M Canal NHC at 30: Starved Rock State Park--the Rock

Once again the Illinois & Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor at 30 series finds us on the south bank of the Illinois River, although within shouting distance of the canal.

The most-prominent feature of Starved Rock State Park is of course, the Rock itself.

As Khan said in Star Trek II--the Wrath of Khan, "There she is!" Starved Rock is a 125-feet high bluff of St. Peter sandstone.

So what's the big deal?

According to legend, in the 1760s, Pontiac, an Ottawa chief named Pontiac was slain by Illliniwek Indians, the tribe was also known as the Illini and it is from those Indians that the Illinois River and of course the state derives its name. The Ottawa of course sought vengeance, and a group of Illiniwek found temporary refuge on top of Starved Rock. But the Ottawa and their Potawatomi allies surrounded the Illiniwek. Unable to escape, they starved to death.

But they departed the planet with a commanding view of the land that was once their domain.

The first Europeans on record to see Starved Rock were Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet in 1673. Two years later Marquette returned and founded a mission among the Kaskaskia Illiniwek across from the Rock on the north bank of the Illinois. Shortly afterwards the French claimed the Illinois and Mississippi valleys. During the winter of 1682-83, they built Fort St. Louis on top of Starved Rock because of its obvious use as a vantage point and because it was only slightly downstream from the last rapids on the Illinois. The fort was abandoned in the early 1700s when the French established another one in Peoria. By 1720 nothing of Fort St. Louis remained.

Starved Rock Lock and Dam allows this part of the Illinois navigable for barges. As for the rapids, well, there are man-made ones there now.

On top of the rock is your humble blogger. On the right is Lover's Leap Overlook.

There is a stairway to the summit of Starved Rock--which is a convenient but temporary resting place for acorns, which this chipmunk surely appreciates.

To reach the top of Lover's Leap you have to walk up a trail.

According to another legend, two Native Americans who were forbidden to wed jumped to their deaths at Lover's Leap.

Some of the sandstone at Starved Rock State Park have an orange hue--and some of that color creeps into creeks.

Leopold Island awaits a rainstorm. To the north--not pictured--is the Plum Island Eagle Sanctuary.

From the north bank of the Illinois is Starved Rock and part of Leopold Island.

Next: Starved Rock's sad west end

Earlier I&M Canal NHC at 30: posts:

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