Millstone Bluff, following the footsteps of the Woodland and Mississippian Indians

We could almost hear the voices of the early Woodland and Mississippian Indians that settled on the top of the Millstone Bluff over 1500 years ago when we visited this historical site.  Located on the edge of the Shawnee Forest near Eddyville, Illinois, my friend Rose and I ventured up the trail to the top of the bluff to see where these prehistoric Native American settlers lived so long ago.

Millstone Bluff was so named because of the quarrying activity by residents from the last century.  The USDA Forest Service wrote, “Millstone Bluff is the site of an undisturbed prehistoric Mississippian village, stonebox cemetery, and rock art site. The Bluff is itself is a unique topographical feature rising 320 feet above the surrounding comparatively flat terrain. It appears as an “island” amidst the hills.”

On top of the bluff, we followed the arrows and read the interpretative signs that explained what they knew about this village that once consisted of approximately 24 house depressions loosely clustered around a central plaza.  USDA shared, “There were probably two to six individuals per household living at Millstone Bluff, including parents, children, and perhaps grandparents.”

Besides the depressions in the soil that are visible to visitors after reaching the top of the bluff, there is also the village cemetery and some of the ancient resident’s artwork.  Overlooking the bluff, we saw traces of the rock art or petroglyphs.  We felt our mortality and this was a reminder that we are not the first nor will we be the last to leave footprints where we walk.

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