30 Ramey Street, Collinsville
Beginning 9/3/14, Wed - Sun, 9-5 p.m.
Grounds: 8 a.m. to dusk
Watch the introductory video.
At Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is preserved the central section of the largest prehistoric Native American city north of Mexico. Occupied from 700 to 1400, the city grew to cover 4,000 acres, with a population of between ten and twenty thousand at its peak around 1100. The site is dominated by the hundred-foot-tall Monks Mound, the largest prehistoric earthen mound in the Americas, and supported a satellite village near Emerald Mound. In 1966 Cahokia Mounds was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1983 was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Cahokia Mounds preserves sixty-eight of the original 120 earthen mounds built by pre-historic Native Americans. Visitors may climb a stairway to the top of Monks Mound, where interpretive signs provide an explanation of the impressive view. Other physical features include a reconstructed stockade wall and “Woodhenge,” a circle of posts around a large central post from which the sunrise can be aligned to determine the season and time of year. Prairie grasses at several locations offer glimpses of native area vegetation. The site also has a day-use area with picnic shelters.
The Interpretive Center houses museum exhibit galleries, an orientation show theater, a public programming auditorium, museum shop, a snack-food service, public restrooms, staff offices, and a courtyard for educational programs. Programs at Cahokia Mounds are organized around the Interpretive Center. Exhibit galleries and an award-winning orientation show, “City of the Sun,” describe the Native Americans who lived there as well as the site’s historic and archeological significance. A “mural walk” booklet explaining the exhibit gallery murals is available for loan at the information desk. The visitor center is accessible to persons with disabilities.
During June, July, and August guided tours are conducted Monday through Saturday. During April, May, September and October, guided tours are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays. The site offers three trails for self-guided tours. Along the Plaza, Monks Mound, and Woodhenge trails visitors can view some of the site’s most significant historic and archeological features. Cassette tapes and guidebooks to these trails may be obtained at the Interpretive Center. Both are available in several languages, and the guidebook is also available in Braille.
A 6.2-mile Nature/Culture Trail passes through more remote areas, which include various wetland, forest, and grassland environments, and the mile-long Prairie State Nature Walk features flora and fauna of the area. Booklets relating to these trails may be obtained at the Interpretive Center.
The site hosts a number of special events, including a series of scholarly lectures, storytelling days, summer field schools, annual equinox and solstice observances, “Kids’ Day,” and a “Native Harvest Festival.” Contact the site for details. The Cahokia Mounds Museum Society supports site programs through operation of the Interpretive Center Museum Shop.
Check out the new iPod Touch tours of Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site or purchase the new Passport Commemorative Series passport booklet highlighting the twenty-one World Heritage sites located in the United States including Cahokia Mounds.