At the edge of the small town of Metropolis, Illinois, is the 1,500 acre Fort Massac State Historic Site. The park is dominated by a reconstructed wooden fort overlooking the Ohio River put up in recent years. Over the past few hundred years, the fortÂ has been rebuilt several times.
The annual Fort Massac Encampment (October 17-18, 2009) is a huge event featuring reenacters, battles, bagpipers, vendors, fife and drum corps, puppet shows, traditional music, games, storytelling, frontier food, tours, fireworks, and a cannon salute.
British, French, and colonial American military of the era 1757-1815 are well represented by reenacters with traders in period costume as vendors.
Each day's activities begin with the posting of the colors and end with a military retreat ceremony.
More than 100,000 visitors attend the annual event. Free wagon rides are provided from the parking area.
Two History Making Clarks
In the distant past, distinguished visitors included the often overlooked George Rogers Clark and a handful of frontiersmen who landed in 1778 near the fort, then in ruins, to strike north overland and overwhelm the British garrison at French-settled Cahokia in present-day MetroEast St Louis. Clark eventually captured the Northwest Territories for the colonial cause without the loss of a single man. There is an imposing statue of Clark in the park.
Clark's brother, William, later arrived at the site with partner Captain Meriwhether Lewis, on his way to set up winter camp in the MetroEast before departing west on a cross-continent journey of exploration. The present-day reconstructed fort represents what is believed the most historically accurate to the time in 1802 when Lewis and Clark were there recruiting men for their expedition.
The museum and visitor center have also been enhanced to provide quality exhibits and facilities. The park offers picnic tables, grills, picnic shelters, playgrounds, hiking trails with one self-guided tree identification trail, and a Class A campground. The park's normal hours are 7am to 10pm daily. Admission to the park is free.
Superman and Metropolis
Neighboring Metropolis, of course, is the official home of Superman. A 15-foot statue of Superman stands next to the Massac County Courthouse downtown and an annual Superman Celebration is held the second weekend of June.Â The water tower overlooking the north-south Interstate 21 that passes the Metropolis turn-off bears the picture of the Man of Steel.Â There is the Super Museum and Gift Store right across from the Superman statue, an Americana Hollywood Museum at Third and Ferry, and Harrah's Casino at the waterfront.
For details on specific upcoming events at Fort Massac and in Massac County, consult the Southern Illinois Road Trip wesbite at http://home.midwest.net/~howes/southernillinoisroadtrip/.