Travel on the King’s Road…King Louis XV of France, that is! French colonists gave this name to the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail (KCT) in the early 1700s. More than 300 years later, the road is still used today in southwestern Illinois.
In this region, the Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Kaskaskia and Meramec Rivers converge with the Mississippi, and throughout history provided reliable transportation for exploration, settlement and trade. Overland trails were used to access interior lands beyond and between the rivers.
The KCT can be traced to American Indian people around 11,000 BC, who over time built large civilizations with mound cities along the trail. When the French established permanent settlements at Kaskaskia and Cahokia, they named these villages after the native Illini people.
Other forts and settlements grew over the next 100 years along the east side of the Mississippi River Valley. This first road spawned other routes that led to Illinois becoming the 21st state in 1818, with Kaskaskia serving as the first state capital.
The 60-mile long corridor connects visitors with many opportunities to discover the region’s diverse history. Explore the evolution of native cultures, French colonial roots, Revolutionary War era settlement, early Illinois statehood, westward expansion, European immigration and agricultural significance along the Trail.
The dramatic bluffs of the scenic Mississippi River Valley shape the natural landscape of the Trail. Rolling oak-hickory forests, prairies and farmlands including quaint, historic villages and rural back roads make this 60-mile journey one you will never forget.
In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly proclaimed the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail as an Illinois Historic and Scenic Route. Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair Counties and their respective municipalities, are working together to improve and promote this historic and scenic corridor for the world to explore, appreciate and enjoy.
Call our office today (800.442.1488) to request a brochure detailing the attractions along the trail or email firstname.lastname@example.org for other inquiries.
This information originally appeared in the Fall 2015 Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!