Saturday was a beautiful day in Illinois. It was much too pretty to stay inside, so we decided to take a road trip to Cahokia Mounds. We have talked about going for years, but we always seem to put it off. Cahokia Mounds is the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico. I always thought it was all burial mounds, but actually it was once a large city and the mounds had a variety of purposes. The Late Woodland Indians settled here around 700 AD. The Mississippians arrived between 800-1000 AD and created a large community that after 1050 AD became a regional center with a population of 10-20,000 people. The community centered around Monks Mound (above) and a huge Grand Plaza where public gatherings took place.
Some of the mounds were used as final resting places, but others had buildings on top and were used for other things. There are several walking paths that you can take and each mound has a name/number. Some have be excavated, others have not.
Above you see a an example of what they have found to be one of the Stockade walls that once formed a boundary around the central part of the city. Excavation showed the deep holes where the posts had once been and they reconstructed a segment of the wall.
Monks Mound is the one mound that you can actually climb to the top of. It is the largest prehistoric earthen construction in the New World. The base covers over 14 acres and it rises in four terraces to a height of 100 feet. The front of the mound is called the South Ramp. They found indentations in the South Ramp that they believe came from wooden steps that were once placed there. Thankfully, they have added new steps so that you can climb in the same place the Prehistoric Indians did, in a slightly easier way (although it is quite a climb).
Above you can see the people on top of Monks Mound and below, you can see our view from about halfway up the stairs.
The view from the top is amazing. You can see the St. Louis Arch in the distance as well as the buildings in the city. From the other side you can see another Stockade reconstruction.
There is a lovely Interpretive Center at Cahokia Mounds with a gift shop, displays, restrooms and vending machines. It has a walk through museum type area that explains more about the history of the site. Cahokia Mounds is free, but they do have donation boxes around to collect money to continue research and maintenance.
The Interpretive Center
A mural that shows how the city once looked.
Part of the exhibit showing how the Indians lived.
After all the exercise we decided to have lunch. I had done a little research and found a place called the Oatman House Tea Room. It was a cute little house with tables inside and out. We sat outside because it was such a gorgeous day. It will be much prettier when things are actually in bloom in the back garden area, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.
We were greeted with strawberry muffins. We also ordered their specialty cinnamon iced tea, which was so good we bought some and brought it home.
My husband had the Cobb Salad and I had their Quiche of the Day, which was bacon and spinach. Our food was delicious and the service was as if we were in someone's private home. We would certainly go back.
From crazy cows years ago in Chicago, to Peanuts in Georgia, Mickey Mouse in Kansas City and Pigs, Alligators and Cars...we have seen decorated "things" in many cities during the past decade. As St. Louis celebrates 250 years, there are 250 decorated birthday cakes all over the area. Below is the one placed at Cahokia Mounds! How fun! If you want to read more about the cakes, click here.