Thursday, February 21, 2019


Marker Details

Historical Marker:

Great Sauk Trail, The

The marker is located 0.7 miles south of Johnson Sauk Trail State Park on the northeast corner of the intersection IL 78 and County Road 1150 North.
Dedication Date:
Dedication By:
Sauk Trail Organization for Preservation and The Illinois State Historical Society

Marker Description:
This East-West road crossing Route 78 is one of the few intact segments of the Great Sauk Trail from the Mississippi River to Lake Erie. It was blazed along this glacial moraine by buffalo thousands of years ago as they traveled around Lake Wenno, meaning "place of abundant game," on their way to eastern grasslands. Many prehistoric and historic villages and campsites dotted the trail area here because it was one of the best hunting areas in North America.

The glacial lake gradually dried up, leaving the Great Willow Swamp, which extended about 600 square miles. The remnants of it were finally tiled and drained in the early 1900's. While tilling and settling the land, early farmers and their descendants uncovered hundreds of ancient artifacts and other evidence of these early residents of Kewanee Township. These settlers named the trail for the Sauks, who still used the trail regularly to collect annuities from the British at Malden, Canada, for fighting in the War of 1812. The Illinois, Mesquawki, Winnebago, and Potawatomi also used the trail. It then became the first stage coach road to pass through the area, and was used by Forty-Niners and settlers in Conestoga wagons until about 1900.

Today, visitors can still travel this trail, used for thousands of years by Native Americans and European settlers, through Kewanee Township and on through Neponset Township of Bureau County.

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