Prairie du Rocher Reconnaissance Survey

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A reconnaissance survey provides a preliminary evaluation of whether a site could meet the criteria for inclusion in the national park system. Reconnaissance surveys examine the issues of national significance, suitability, feasibility, and level of National Park Service management required, and determine if further evaluation through a special resource study is warranted. To be recommended as a new unit of the national park system, an area must be 1) nationally significant, 2) suitable, 3) feasible, and 4) require direct NPS management instead of protection by other public agencies or the private sector. This reconnaissance survey is a preliminary resource assessment of French Colonial historic resources in the area of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois. This survey was undertaken in response to a request from Illinois 12th District Representative Mike Bost in July 2020.

The reconnaissance survey assesses properties located across the landscape of the Middle Mississippi River region of Illinois that are related to French colonial settlement, administration, and culture, including some of the earliest European settlements in what would come to be known as the Illinois Country. The properties analyzed include buildings, standing ruins, a historic road, and archeological resources. Among these are Fort de Chartres, the center of French military and administrative power in the Illinois Country; the sites of four French villages including Kaskaskia, originally a Franco-Illinois village and later the most populous French settlement in the region; the sites of at least three Illinois Indian villages whose histories and fates were intertwined with that of the French colonists; the Pierre Menard House, a church and cemetery that represent the legacy of the French colonial parish system; and several excellent examples of French colonial architecture in the village of Prairie du Rocher.

The reconnaissance survey does not find a sufficiently compelling reason to recommend further study of the properties described in the "Resources Analyzed for this Study" section. This reconnaissance survey finds that the area may have the potential to be a national heritage area, provided that a single coordinating entity could be identified. Such a management option may better suit the large size and dispersed resources within the study area.

Please click on the "Document List" tab at left to access the reconnaissance survey and original request letter.

Contact Information

James Lange
Planning and Compliance Division
Omaha, NE