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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

National Historic Landmark STARVED ROCK

Location: La Salle County, on Ill. 71, about 6 miles west of Ottawa.

Ownership and Administration. State of Illinois; Division of Parks and Memorials.

Significance. Starved Rock was the first major center of French influence in the Illinois country. La Salle, after his momentous voyage of discovery down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, in 1682, chose it as a base for his administration and development of the upper Mississippi Valley. With Henry de Tonty, in 1682-83, he constructed Fort St. Louis at Starved Rock (Le Rocher), about which La Salle concentrated thousands of Indians as part of his ambitious plan to protect and exploit the vast new territory that he claimed for France. At the lower rapids of the Illinois River, the fort controlled the strategic waterway that was a major connecting link between Canada and the Mississippi Valley. As pressure from their enemies mounted, the Illinois Indians finally deserted Starved Rock for safer territory. This ended the fort's usefulness to the French, who in 1691 abandoned it.

Starved Rock
On the summit of Starved Rock, in Illinois country, the French explorer La Salle built Fort St. Louis to secure the vast Mississippi Valley for France.

Present Appearance. Starved Rock State Park, dominated by the pinnacle of Starved Rock itself, preserves some of the sites of the Indian communities that clustered around the fort. The pinnacle is a sheer promontory rising 115 feet above the Illinois River in a beautiful natural setting. Use of the park is primarily recreational, but the setting retains much of the feeling of the wilderness as La Salle knew it. Trails give access to various natural and historical features, and plaques on the summit describe the historical significance of the site—a reminder of the great age of French exploration and settlement. [19]

NHL Designation: 10/09/60

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Last Updated: 22-Mar-2005