Nov/Dec 2012  



Don't ask I sold this great pistol a few years ago when needing $$$$



Here's an event not to be missed folks, correct site with lots and I mean lots of historical sites within short driving distance. My wife Karen hasn't much interest in my hobby, so she does her thing with the animals and those type of events around home. In 1998 a small group of us decided to go from Fort Morgan CO to Fort de Chartres IL by canoe, correct food, clothing and equipage for the late 1700's. 1260 river miles, unsupported (no one following us if needed), this was the best adventure I've experienced in over 50 years of living history. The first two weeks were terrible with muscle strains and pain, but the next two weeks got better. We finally got use to putting the paddles in the water two times a minute and pulling our guts out. A great experience that all five members will never forget.

See article about this trip by


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Fort de Chartres

Fort de Chartres was a French fortification first built in 1720 on the east bank of the Mississippi River in present-day Illinois. The Fort de Chartres name was also applied to the two successive fortifications built nearby during the 18th century in the era of French colonial control over Louisiana and the Illinois Country.

A partial reconstruction of the third and last fort, which was built of local limestone shortly before the end of French rule in the Midwest, is preserved in an Illinois state park four miles (6 km) west of Prairie du Rocher in extreme northwest Randolph County, Illinois. It is south of St Louis, Missouri. The site and its associated buildings were placed on the National Register of Historical Places and recognized as a National Historic Landmark on October 15, 1966. It is in the floodplain area that became known as the American Bottoms.

The name of the original fort honored Louis duc de Chartres, son of the Regent of France. The fort's stone magazine, which survived the gradual ruin that overtook the rest of the site, is considered the oldest building in the state of Illinois. The state park today hosts several large re-enactments at the fort of colonial-era civil and military life each summer.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Fort de Chartres

The French

On January 1, 1718, the French government granted a trade monopoly to John Law and his 'Company of the West'. Hoping to make a fortune mining precious metals, the company built a fort to protect its interests. The original wooden fort was built in 1718-1720 by a French contingent from New Orleans led by Pierre Dugué de Boisbriand. When administration of the Illinois Country was moved from Canada to New Orleans, governance was transferred to the Company of the Indies. The fort was built to be the seat of government and to control the Indians of the region, particularly the Fox. The original fort was a palisade of logs with two bastions at opposite corners.

Within five years, flooding from the Mississippi had left the original fort in bad condition. Construction of a second fort further from the river, but still on the flood plain, began in 1725. This fort was also made of logs and had a bastion at each of the four corners. By 1731 the Company of the Indies had gone defunct and returned Louisiana and its government back to the king.

The second wooden fort deteriorated somewhat less rapidly but by 1742 was in bad repair. In 1747 the French garrison moved to the region's primary settlement 18 miles (29 km) to the south at Kaskaskia. The French debated where to rebuild the fort. When rule of the area reverted to the French crown in the 1730s, officials began to discuss construction of a stone fortress. The government in New Orleans wanted to move the garrison permanently to Kaskaskia, but the local commandant argued for a location near the original site.

The government decided to rebuild a fort in stone near the first forts rather than at Kaskakia. Construction began in 1753 and was mostly completed in 1756; however, construction continued at the site for another four years. The limestone fort had walls 15-ft (3 m)-high and 3-ft (1m)-thick, enclosing an area of 4 acres (16,000 m²). The stone for construction was quarried in bluffs about two or three miles (4 km) distant and had to be ferried across a small lake.

The British

In 1763 the Treaty of Paris was signed following the Seven Year War (French & Indian War) and the French transferred control of the Illinois Country to Great Britain. The stone fort had served as center of French administration of the region for only ten years. With the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the British Crown declared almost all of the land between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River from Florida to Newfoundland an Indian Reserve.

The British had difficulty getting a regiment to their newly acquired fort, but on October 10, 1765, a small detachment of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment took control of the fort and surrounding area. The 42nd was shortly replaced by the 34th Regiment. French settlers were ordered to leave or get a special license to remain. Many French settlers moved to the more congenial culture of St. Louis. The 34th Regiment of Foot renamed the installation Fort Cavendish, after its colonel.

However, the post was known as Ft. Chartres from 1768 on, after the 34th were replaced by the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment under the command of Lt. Col. Wilkins. The British, abandoned the post in May 1772 when the majority of the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment was ordered back to Philadelphia. A small party under Capt Hugh Lord remained at Kaskaskia until May 1776.


The Mississippi continued to take its toll after the fort was abandoned. In 1772 the south wall and bastion fell into the river. The remaining walls deteriorated, and visitors noted trees growing in them by the 1820s. Locals carted away stones for construction over the years. By 1900 the walls were gone. The only part of the original fort that remained was the stone building that had served as the powder magazine.

The fort's powder magazine prior to restoration.



The fort's powder magazine, here restored, is thought to be the oldest standing building in Illinois.

The State of Illinois acquired the ruins in 1913 as a historic site and restored the powder magazine in 1917. The powder magazine is thought to be the oldest existing building in the state of Illinois. In the 1920s foundations of the fort's buildings and walls were exposed. In the late 1920s and through the 1930s, the US WPA rebuilt the gateway and two stone buildings.

A combination museum and office building, constructed in 1928 on the foundation of an original fort building, houses exhibits depicting French life at Fort de Chartres. The large stone “Guards House,” reconstructed in 1936, contains a Catholic chapel furnished in the style of the 1750s, along with a priest’s room, a gunner’s room, an officer-of-the-day room, and a guard’s room. Also on the grounds are an operating bake oven, a garden shed built of upright logs in French Colonial poteaux-sur-solle (French: post on sill) construction, and a kitchen garden with raised beds of produce typical of French 18th-century Illinois.

Partial reconstruction of the fort's walls on the original foundations followed in 1989. The frames of some additional buildings were erected as a display of the post-and-beam construction techniques used for the originals. Other buildings' foundations and cellars were exposed for educational display as well.

Today the site has a museum and small gift shop. It plays host each June to a Rendezvous that is said to be one of the largest and oldest in the country celebrating frontier French and Indian culture.

The site is protected by modern levees, but the Mississippi River is still an occasional menace.


The flood of 1993 breached the levee and sent waters fifteen feet deep to lap at the top of the walls.

Missouri River, supper time.

The flood of '93 was something to see and an event we wouldn't forget.
A small group of us (11) experienced this flood traveling from Bonnets Mill MO to Fort de Chartres IL for their '93 rendezvous. Don't let anyone tell you a refrigerator won't float (we had one pass us in seven knot water) that's fast believe me. Merchandise from washed out businesses was everywhere. A half dozen basket balls came by, we couldn't let that happen - the flintlocks took care of the problem. Talk about 'white knuckles'..... Nothing like a 40' tree coming within 20' of your canoe and your thinking 'a limb is going to tear the bottom out of us'.

Neat spot on the Missouri near Washington MO.

Thinking back we were very lucky having no major issues and having God's blessing  with us.



Each June, Fort de Chartres State Historic Site hosts the largest rendezvous in the Midwest with over a thousand participants, hundreds of encampments, and thousands of visitors joining in on the festivities. Based on the traditional French fur trapper’s rendezvous where trappers and traders would meet at a predetermined location to trade furs for necessities, the rendezvous was the highlight of the fur trapper’s year and is the highlight of Fort de Chartre’s extensive calendar of historical events and activities.

The Annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres offers participants and visitors alike a glimpse into the period from 1740-1840, a part of Illinois’ past when it was governed not only by France but by Great Britain and the United States as well. Costumed reenactors portray a variety of personas including colonial military units, mountain men, Native Americans, settlers, merchants, and more. Historical demonstrations are located at various locations on the grounds and there are periodic demonstrations that include period music, military drills, and musket and cannon competitions.


As Fort de Chartres is an Illinois Historic Preservation Agency site, there is a wide variety of interpretive activities that can be found throughout the grounds. These activities run continuously throughout both days. In the Native Crafts area, visitors can learn first hand the arts of bow and arrow making, hide tanning, basket weaving, the use of native foods and herbs, pottery, the construction of wigwams, and the history of how and why the fur trade became such an important frontier industry. There are also archery demonstrations and competitions.



Talk about being eerie ... damn fog ...


Are we there yet ....


We're dragging bottom again ....



There's a BARGE COMING AT US ....

We would run into some unusual traffic from time to time. These river men would have a great time talking to us. 'What are you guys, pirates, are you fuc...g frogs ?' (French)...

But they always had funny remarks and willing to share their comments.

There was a flood in '93 on the Mississippi River but in our passage we experienced water shortages on the Platte and Missouri Rivers.

What do you do now? Simple get out and pull your equipage and canoe. The one I'm pulling is 22' long and has close to 600 lbs of food, clothing, cook ware and misc. camp items plus the weight of the canoe for this 28 day trip. With this much gear and (3) 200 lb. guys it is a load to handle.


The Colonial Area features demonstrations that include spinning, dyeing, the use of looms, woodworking, weaving, quilting, rope making, coopering, and blacksmiths. Located in the Fort buildings themselves are a French Patron (River Boatman,) a French Marines quarters, a Jesuit missionary in the Fort's Chapel, and the Piethman Museum . A French Colonial garden, oxen, and baked goods for sale from a working stone oven can be found near the demonstration areas. Throughout the grounds are demonstrations by independent merchants illustrating their skills, and displaying and selling their creations.

Fort de Chartres began as a French military outpost. The reconstructed stone fort represents the third fort built by the French, the first two wooden forts having been destroyed by the Mississippi River . It was this stone fort that the French turned over to the British in 1765 after the end of the French and Indian War. The British abandoned this fort, moving their territorial headquarters to the nearby town of Kaskaskia . The abandoned stone fort was visited by George Rogers Clark during his expedition during the Revolutionary War. Representing this military tradition are a number of military reenactment units and marching bands representing all three colonial powers. Rifle, musket, and artillery competitions are all part of the scheduled programs.

Period music can be found at any time during the event. A center stage is set up within the fort and features various musical groups throughout the day. Many of these groups can be found entertaining visitors throughout the grounds when they are not featured on the main stage. In addition marching military bands with drums, flutes, bagpipes, and other instruments can be seen patrolling the grounds.

Hundreds of tents, teepees, and other primitive shelters become the weekend home for the over one thousand reenactors who come to Fort de Chartres from across the country. Visitors can gain a lot of insight into the life styles of the fur trapping era by exploring the Primitive Camp. The reenactors are a friendly bunch and are happy to talk about the specifics of their camp and the personas they portray. Sutlers, merchants, and trade blankets are located throughout the grounds selling many period related goods that are only available at this type of event.

Information from Fort de Chartres State Historical Website.  

Directions to the fort

Directions: Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is located 4 miles west of Prairie du Rocher, about an hours drive south of St. Louis . Take IL-3 to Ruma and then turn west on IL-155. Follow IL-155 through Prairie du Rocher to the site.

For more information call 618-284-7230.


Good luck, take care.

Aux Aliments de Pays!

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