Kincaid Mounds played an important role in American archaeology

By Dennis Bresnahan

I decided to stop at Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis, Ill., in August after camping with a couple of friends at Hillman Ferry Campground in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area at Kentucky Lake.  

I had been to Fort Massac several times before but it is always a nice place to visit.

Fort Massac became Illinois’ first state park in 1908. It has a reconstruction of the original fort from the 1800’s, a great view of the Ohio River right next to it, and a very nice visitor center and museum.

There are also campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, and picnic areas.

While I was in the museum looking at all of the exhibits about the history of the fort and the surrounding area, I saw an exhibit about Kincaid Mounds and the local Indians who had lived in the vicinity of the fort.  

There was also a very large collection of Indian arrowheads and other tools that archaeologists had discovered.

I am always interested in finding and visiting places that I either didn’t know about or haven’t been to before. So I asked the park ranger at the visitor center about Kincaid Mounds and where it was at.

She told me that it was on the east side of Interstate 24 about 16 miles from here. Fort Massac is on the west side of Interstate 24 about a mile away on Highway 45.

I was told to take Highway 45 east from Interstate 24 to Brookport, Ill., and follow the signs. This road is on the Ohio River Scenic Byway.

The signs are few and far between but basically you turn left on Unionville Road and go for about six miles, and then right on New Cut Road for four miles to Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site.  

An information card with directions and a map can be picked up at the Fort Massac Visitor Center.

I was told to not get discouraged on New Cut Road when the paved road becomes a gravel road after a mile. It is only gravel for less than a mile and then it becomes paved again for the rest of the way.

When you get to Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site there is a parking lot and an interpretive area and observation platform with benches that is open from dawn to dusk.  
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There are three panels that tell the story of the area and its people, including photos of artwork and everyday objects the residents created.

The mounds themselves are closed to visitors and public access is limited. This means that you can look at them but not walk or climb on them.

This state property has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places of the United States.

The earthen mounds are impressive and appear pretty much the way they looked centuries ago.

The mounds were built in stages over a period of 350 years by stacking basket loads of selected soil and clay material one on top of another.  

Visitors to the site will see flat-topped 30-foot-tall mounds surrounding a level area.

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