Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville, Illinois

The Mississippians were here first!   This was a wonderful surprise that was accidently discovered when the Missouri Department of Transportation Department was surveying the area in preparations for a new highway.  Somewhere around 1970 or so.

In the museum there were photos from the 1930’s of excavations, but evidently the mounds were not well documented or common knowledge.  We were told that the mounds were almost lost to the highway project.   Farmers had been plowing over them for ages.

This is considered the Oldest City in Pre-America USA north of Mexico.   The Population is estimated to have been over 20,000 citizens.  Single family homes surround the mounds where it is assumed the elite lived high on the hill.  The mounds contained burials for the important leaders but most everyone else just got buried like the rest of us ordinary citizens.  There are layers of soil on top of previous leaders, and the view from the top is expansive. From this very old spot one can see the Arch in Saint Louis. What a contrast in time.

It appears that the people were of varied occupations and that trade was a way of commerce.  Some farmed, some were shepherds and hunters, etc.  The museum does a good job of depicting these people in a sophisticated and civilized manner.  Their artwork and use of natural materials is amazing.  They traveled south to Mexico and East over to the Rockies and Pacific from the artifacts discovered.

Neither of us had heard of this group of early folk and the length of time that they lived in one spot as a home base spans hundreds of years.

There are several mounds and we only visited the largest and did a quick stop at Woodhenge.  Woodhenge is a group of circles of tall tree trunks, debarked, trimmed, singed and put in the ground in a way that the sun might shine over different seasons.  It is thought to have been used as a Seasonal Calendar for agricultural purposes.

No one seems to know why they disappeared, but speculate that they may have just over-populated their ability to provide for their people.  Disease, dissatisfaction and internal unrest may have also led to the demise of an obviously beautiful, intelligent and sophisticated people.

Gosh, I am learning so many new things!

3 thoughts on “Cahokia Mounds, Collinsville, Illinois

  1. I’ve been enjoying your recent blog posts, especially this one about the Cahokia Mounds. Question: how have you found these great places to visit?
    We hope to be taking off on our own adventure of fulltime RV travel next year! Wish it were sooner, but it will take us the next several months to get rid of stuff and sell the house. I will be practicing a new level of patience! 🙂


    • Hi Bobbie, Thank you for reading our blog. We love comments! We have developed a system of trying to stop at the Visitor Centers when we arrive at a new place. We pick up literature on local highlights. Usually, we hit one big name attraction and hit it off with a guide or another guest and they share their favorite places. Many times, it is a place that is off the grid or not highly advertised and usually they are free or inexpensive. Sometimes, it is someone at the Laundromat or campgrounds that will share where the least crowds are and the prettiest scenery. We have found people to be our best resource!


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