Welcome to the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site!
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
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 Wednesdady – 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 is an officially endorsed partner of the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Currently the Fort de Chartres State Historic Site annual special events are being sponsored by Les Amis du Fort de Chartres.
Click on the following link to view our 2018 Special Events Corporate Giving Sponsors and to learn how you can support
Upcoming 2018 Summer & Fall Events at Fort de Chartres
Saturday, August 18, 9 AM-2 PM
Volunteers will be performing “spruce up tasks” such as weed-eating, cleaning buildings, site downed limb removal, outdoor facility cleaning etc. Les Amis will also be assembling school outreach educational haversacks in the Trading Post during the day for those who would like a less physical activity.
If you are able to come out and help, please join us at 9 AM on August 18th. Bring tools, and plenty of water, lunch will be provided by site staff. We would greatly appreciate your help!
Saturday, August 25, 11-2 PM
French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time Book Release & Signing Party
Les Amis du Fort de Chartres special book release event will be held at Fort de Chartres State Historic Site with author & artist Tom Willcockson available to sign French Colonial Fort de Chartres, A Journey in Time copies.
At the event:
- A special site tour will be offered by former Fort de Chartres Site Supervisor, Darrell Duensing
- Meet Dr. Margaret Kimball Brown, renowned Illinois historian
- Eighteenth century refreshments will be available.
Show your support of this educational project by preordering your specially priced copy. Merci!
Saturday, September 8, 10 AM-4 PM
Fort de Chartres Muzzle Loading Black Powder Artillery Safety School
Artillery reenactors participate in yearly safety training.
Training runs 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturday. This event is 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 & Sunday, October 13 & 14, 2018
Fort de Chartres French & Indian War Encampment
Saturday, October 13, 10 AM-4 PM
Sunday, October 14, 10 AM-2 PM
1750s historically dressed Native American, soldier, militia, and camp follower re-enactors participate in everyday camp activities and military drills.
Saturday & Sunday, November 3 & 4, 2018
Fort de Chartres Winter Rendezvous & Woodswalk
Saturday, November 3, 10 AM-5 PM
Sunday, November 4, 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 5 &6.
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.
2018 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.
The 48th Annual Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres is fast approaching! On June 2 and 3, 2018, the June Rendezvous will once again take its place as the Fort site’s signature event, attracting... Read More
For all of you interested in watching the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21 at Fort de Chartres, Site Specialist, Dr. Todd Hamilton created a Facebook event entitled Solar Eclipse 2017, with the... Read More