Welcome to the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site!
Please note: Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is now re-open to the public after months of closure due to the closing of the Prairie du Rocher flood gates and area flooding. The site’s museum and library were evacuated as a precaution and the museum displays have not yet been returned to the site. But the remainder of the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site is now open and the saturated ground surrounding the area around the Fort continues to improve. We welcome visitors return to the site and look forward to our Fall Special Events at Fort de Chartres! For more information about scheduled Special Events please visit the event page of this website or our Facebook Special Events listings.
We thank the Levee Commissioners, federal, state and local governments and agencies, and area residents and businesses for their hard work protecting this historic area.
Located four miles west of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, the site marks the location of the last of four successive French forts named “de Chartres.” Built in 1753 by the French during their eighteenth-century colonization of the Illinois Country, the massive stone fort was preceded by three wooden forts, with the first fort erected in 1720. Fort de Chartres served as the French seat of government and its chief military installation in Upper Louisiana from 1753 until 1765 when it was occupied by the British. In 1763 France ceded much of its territory in North America, including what is now Illinois, to Great Britain. British troops occupied the fort from 1765 until 1772, when encroachment by the Mississippi River caused a collapse of the south wall. Subsequently, the remaining walls and buildings fell into ruin.
Today, the site features an imaginative reconstruction of portions of the fourth Fort de Chartres. The fort gate, built in the 1920s, has been remodeled several times. Portions of the fort’s walls were reconstructed on original foundations in 1989. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Inside the fort are the restored powder magazine, believed to be the oldest building in Illinois, two reconstructed stone buildings, and the exposed foundations of other buildings. The powder magazine is stocked with reproduction barrels and barrel racks. A combination museum and office building, built in 1928 on the foundation of an original fort building, houses exhibits depicting the history of Fort de Chartres and the Illinois Country. The large stone Guard House, reconstructed in 1936, contains a Catholic chapel furnished in the style of the 1750s, along with a priest’s room, a gunner’s room, an officer-of-the-day room, and a guard’s room. Also on the grounds are an operating bake oven, a garden shed built of upright logs in post-on-sill construction, and a kitchen garden with raised beds of produce that would have been grown in eighteenth-century Illinois.
Recreational facilities outside the reproduced fort include a day-use area with a picnic shelter and grills.
Fort de Chartres welcomes you to the heart of French Colonial Illinois! Please visit us throughout the year, whether for a wonderful day trip through the hills of southwestern Illinois or at one of our many special events held throughout the year.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site
1350 State Route 155
Prairie du Rocher, IL 62277
(618) 284-7230 or (618) 859-3741
The site is operated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. On July 1, 2017 The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency was divided into its constituents, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library and Illinois Historic Preservation, both part of the the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The state’s historic resources contribute to education, culture, and the economy include ancient burial mounds, forts, and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.
Open: Year-round. Site facilities are open Wednesday – Sunday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Site grounds are open from dawn – dusk every day.
Closed: Site facilities are closed on New Year’s Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Thanksgiving, Day After Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
Illinois Historic Preservation suggested site donation: $4 for adults, $2 for children, $10 for families.
For additional Fort de Chartres State Historic Site and staff information, please visit the Contact Us page on this website.
Fort de Chartres, The Heart of the Illinois Country website, is funded and maintained by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Les Amis was an officially endorsed partner of the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Currently the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site annual special events are being sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Upcoming 2019 Fall Special Events at Fort de Chartres
Saturday, September 7
Fort de Chartres Muzzle Loading Black Powder Artillery Safety School
Saturday, September 7, 10 AM-4 PM
Artillery Re-enactors participate in yearly safety training and demonstrate live cannon firing.
Training runs 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday. Hosted by the French Colonial Artillery from the Holy Family Militia. For more information on how to register for this event, contact (618) 284-7230 or email email@example.com.
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Special Event-100th Anniversary of Fort de Chartres State Park
Saturday, October 5, 2019
10 AM-4 PM
100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF FORT DE CHARTRES AS A STATE PARK AND RE-DEDICATION OF BRONZE PLAQUE PRESENTED TO FORT DE CHARTRES ON OCT 10 1919 BY ILLINOIS CHAPTER OF COLONIAL DAMES.
Saturday’s event activities include a re-dedication ceremony of the original bronze plaque being presented to the State. Other event activities will feature 1920s era music, an antique automobile demonstration, a collection of vintage material, photos and documents from the first 100 years of the park’s history will be on display, with some reenactors dressed in early 20th century era clothing.
There were efforts to purchase and restore the site of Fort de Chartres as early as 1911, but the property wasn’t purchased by the State of Illinois until the years of 1914 and 1915, recorded in two separate transactions. Work was undertaken in following years to prepare the site for public use and the best documented date for the site’s official opening as a State Park is October, 1919. At that time, a bronze plaque was dedicated and placed on the powder magazine.
Please join us in celebrating this important event in the preservation of the history of Fort de Chartres State Historic Site.
Saturday & Sunday, October 12 & 13, 2019
Fort de Chartres French & Indian War Encampmentand Competition
Saturday, October 12, 10 AM-4 PM
Sunday, October 13, 10 AM-2 PM
1750s historically dressed Native American, soldier, militia, and camp follower re-enactors participate in everyday camp activities and military drills. This event is presented by the Sainte Anne Militia, The Milice du Sante Famille, and Les Amis du Fort de Chartres. 2018 event information is available here on Downloadable F & I Flyer.
Saturday & Sunday, November 2 & 3, 2019
Fort de Chartres Winter Rendezvous & Woodswalk
Saturday, November 2, 10 AM-5 PM
Sunday, November 3, 10 AM-3 PM
This event features 18th and early 19th century camp life and re-enactors who participate in a muzzleloader woods walk shooting competition.
Fort de Chartres State Historic Site presents a weekend of colorful clothing, hand-made crafts, period music and delicious food when the annual Winter Rendezvous returns November 2 & 3.
Soldiers, trappers, traders and Native Americans (as portrayed by historic re-enactors) will gather at the rendezvous. They’ll trade goods, buy supplies, and some will take part in a shooting contest that requires them to walk through the woods and fire flintlocks at pop-up targets.
The rendezvous is fun both for the participants demonstrating frontier life from 1700 to1820 and for visitors spending an autumn day wandering among the tents, campfires and historic French colonial fort. The event is open and free to the general public. This event is hosted by Les Coureurs des Bois de Fort de Chartres and sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
La Guiannee at Fort de Chartres
Tuesday, December 31, 7 PM-9 PM
The Prairie du Rocher La Guiannee visits the site to play period music and sing.
In a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration dating back to 1722, the La Guiannee singers will visit houses and Fort de Chartres in the early French town of Prairie du Rocher and sing for the residents. As part of the tradition, the residents provide refreshments for the singers at each stop. It is cosponsored by Fort de Chartres, Les Amis, and the Prairie du Rocher La Guiannee Society. The event is open and free to the general public.
French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres’ new line art book publication by author & artist Tom Willcockson is now available. The French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time publication was made possible through the support of the members of Les Amis du Fort de Chartres, the general public, and through the Illinois Humanities Council “Forgotten Illinois” grant award.
Show your support of this educational project by ordering your copy. Merci!
2019 Special Events Schedule is available on the Events page of this website!
For other regional information:
Photo credits on this website: Ericha Johanning, Thang Ho Photography, Maddog Michael, Carol Kuntz, Jennifer Duensing, Carl Esperman, James Cheyenne Trambley, and Dave & Deb Horne’s Fort de Chartres Store Facebook page.
Thank you to Scott Irvin for supporting the Fort de Chartres website. The site is maintained by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres volunteers and for any website questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All words in blue offer informational links.
Thank you to Mitch Lopata, of Lopata Design, for the donated graphic art creations for Fort de Chartres Special Events, including our new Les Amis logo.
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