Several historic sites in southern Illinois may be added to list of National Parks, Monuments

Randolph County push for new National Parks and Monuments.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 6:46 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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RANDOLPH COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - Should some Heartland historical areas be added to the list of National Parks and Monuments?

Today, local leaders discussed the impact of what a National Park designation could have on the Heartland.

Along the Mississippi River in Illinois, there are many areas filled with history.

Southern Illinois Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Senator Tammy Duckworth Jim Kirkpatrick said that these sites have just as much history as some establishments on the East coast.

“We look at historical significant areas such as Jamestown and really Kaskaskia has as much significance in the development of the western part of the United States as Jamestown,” Kirkpatrick said.

The sites include Kaskaskia Island, Fort Kaskaskia, Pierre Menard home, Creole House in Prairie du Rocher and Fort de Chartres.

Committee member Edward Weilbacher said a national park has to tell a national story--and this area does just that.

“What it’s going to be is a synergistic effect to the region,” Weilbacher said. “Because some of the sites owned by the state would be transferred to the parks service and now you have another player here that could help maintain, operate and interpret a national brand.”

Last year, leaders in Congress tried to make this a reality, but it fizzled out. The hope is to accomplish National Park and Monument status as soon as possible.

Kirkpatrick added that this status should of happened years ago.

“Why now? Because if not now, when? I mean I think it should have been done several years ago,” Kirkpatrick said.

To become a national park, the area would need to be voted on by Congress or by Presidential Declaration.