Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Marker Details

Historical Marker:

American Bottom, The

The marker is located on the east side of Route 3, 3.5 miles north of Ellis Grove and approximately 18 miles above Chester at a turn-out area.
Dedication Date:
Dedication By:
Illinois Department of Transportation and The Illinois State Historical Society

Marker Description:
The American Bottom is that sixty mile long strip of lowland lying between the bluffs and the east bank of the Mississippi River. Its earliest recorded history is written in the annals of France, England, and Spain. In the wars, these nations fought against each other and against native Indian tribes for dominion of the New World.

Following the discoveries of Jolliet and Marquette in 1673 and exploration of LaSalle in 1682, France claimed possession of the entire Mississippi Valley. Extending from the Appalachian Mountains in the East and the Spanish Empire in the West, here in the center of this vast expanse known as the Illinois Country, Louis XIV erected a fort and settlers from Canada and France established the village of Cahokia in 1699 and the villages of St. Philippe, Fort de Chartres, Prairie du Rocher, and Kaskaskia early in the eighteenth century.

During England’s occupation of the Illinois Country, 1765-1778, she retained the American Bottom as the center of administration for the area renamed the Illinois Province of Quebec. Virginia, likewise, established the American Bottom as headquarters for her Illinois County, 1778-1781, when George Rogers Clark drove the British from the area.

The American Bottom part of the Old Northwest Territory gained recognition under the government of the United States by being named the site of the first county established in Illinois in 1790, the capital of the Illinois Territory, 1809-1818, and the home of the first state capital.

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