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On The Trail: Millstone Bluff

POPE COUNTY (WSIL) — We’re heading back into the Shawnee National Forest this week to check out a guided hike through an interpreted archaeological site, Millstone Bluff. The trail is located 2 miles from Glendale and is less than a mile long.

Heather Carey, district Archaeologist for the Shawnee National Forest, says, “The reason this is called Millstone Bluff is during the 1800s this was an area that a lot of the settlers would come and quarry stone out of the side of the bluff to make Millstone… You would have two Millstones … one would be on top of each other and they would turn and that’s how you would grind your wheat or your corn.”

Carey also says that when visiting sites like this, it is important to leave what you find.

Carey explains, “It’s really important to realize when you come to Millstone Bluff to realize that you are walking on an actual archaeological site and there are still many artifacts here from when the Native Americans lived here. And it’s very important to leave those because those all help us to interpret the story of the people that lived here and what kind of activities they did here, what their daily life was like.”

The site holds remnants of two previous time periods, what’s left of a stone wall from between 600 A.D and 900 A.D. and a prehistoric Mississippian Village from between 1000 A.D. and 1500 A.D. 

Carey says, “These people had no written language but what it is is it’s suppose to take, this signifies a mythical figure that they had in their belief system called the falcon dancer.  What it is, it’s a picture of the thunder bird and then it’s a picture of a head dress it’s like a plumed head dress, and then there’s a man.”

Carey elaborates, “Now we’re up in the village area.  One of the reasons that this site is so unique is that it’s never been plowed before and a lot of the archaeological sites that we have in southern Illinois because agricultural is such a large part of our region, a lot of archaeological sites get plowed and so all of the artifacts kind of get churned up.  A lot of the features that you see here are exactly how they we’re left when people left when people left the area a thousand years ago.”

If you would like to participate on a guided hike at Millstone Bluff, the Shawnee National Forest will be hosting one on November 2nd from 10AM to 12PM.  

For more information on Millstone Bluff and hiking in the Shawnee National Forest click here.

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