The State of Illinois administers 73 state parks and two state marinas. The largest park is Pere Marquette State Park, which covers 3,200 hectares (8,000 acres) of wooded country near the junction of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Part of the palisades, or cliffs, that rise above the Mississippi River lie within Mississippi Palisades State Park. Starved Rock State Park is the site of Starved Rock, a high, rugged rock mass along the Illinois River. The summit of the huge rock is the site of the former Fort Saint Louis, which was built by the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in 1682 and 1683. The state’s last remaining stand of virgin white pine is preserved farther north, in White Pines Forest State Park. Giant City State Park, in southern Illinois, has been so named because of the presence of huge blocks of eroded sandstone that resemble city buildings. Between them, deeply eroded fissures appear as avenues.
Monks Mound, the largest aboriginal earthen structure in the United States, is preserved in Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site in southwestern Illinois. Located at the site of the largest Native American city north of Mexico, Monks Mound covers 6 hectares (14 acres) and rises about 30 m (about 100 ft) in four terraces (see Mound Builders). The Cave-in-Rock State Park, on the Ohio River, is also the site of Native American mounds. Other picturesque parks are Ferne Clyffe State Park, Apple River Canyon State Park, Matthiessen State Park, and Illinois Beach State Park, which borders Lake Michigan.
In Fort de Chartres State Historic Site, on the Mississippi River in southwestern Illinois, is a restoration of the chief 18th-century fortress in the Illinois country. Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site, in the southwestern part of the state, was once the site of Fort Kaskaskia, a historic fort that served the French during the middle part of the 18th century.
All that remains of the original fort built on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River are the earthworks around the perimeter. Black Hawk State Historic Site, adjoining the city of Rock Island, includes a museum of Native American artifacts. The park is named for the chief who led the Sac and Fox in the Black Hawk War in 1832. In Lowden State Park, in northern Illinois, is the famous Black Hawk Monument, a concrete statue 15 m (50 ft) high of the Native American leader designed by the noted sculptor Lorado Taft. A number of state sites preserve places associated with the life of Abraham Lincoln. One of the most picturesque monuments is in Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, which lies northwest of Springfield. Within the park is a reconstruction of the pioneer village of New Salem, where Lincoln lived between 1831 and 1837.
The village includes rustic log cabins, rail fences, a store, mills, and a reproduction of Rutledge Tavern, where Lincoln boarded. One original building remains on the site, the Onstot Cooper Shop, where Lincoln often studied in the evenings. In Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site, in eastern Illinois, is a reconstruction of the cabin of Lincoln’s father and stepmother.
There are also a number of state memorials in Illinois dedicated to Lincoln. The Lincoln Trail State Memorial marks the place where, in 1830, the Lincoln family crossed the Wabash River from Indiana into Illinois. Vandalia Statehouse, the former state capitol, where Lincoln served as a legislator, is also preserved as a state historic site. Lincoln is buried in the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site in Springfield. Several courthouses where Lincoln practiced law have been preserved or reconstructed as state historic sites, including the original brick-and-timber Metamora Courthouse just northeast of Peoria, the restored Mount Pulaski Courthouse, and a replica of the Postville Courthouse at Lincoln. Among other state memorials is Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site, which preserves the oldest public building in the state. The building dates from 1737. The frame structure that once housed the first bank in the Illinois Territory stands within Shawneetown State Historic Site. The home of Ulysses S. Grant at Galena is now a state historic site as well. The Douglas Tomb State Historic Site in Chicago contains the tomb of the famous American statesman Stephen A. Douglas. "Illinois" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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