Visitors Guide to the
Modoc Rock Shelter

Bluff Road
Randolph County, Illinois

Illinois Historic Site Interpretive Information

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Approximately 2 miles southeast of Prairie du Rocher near the little village of Modoc is a rock cliff at the edge of the Mississippi River valley that was undercut by Ice Age floods. As far back as 9,000 years ago Native Americans had taken advantage of the shelter that the undercut section of the cliff provided. The site was discovered in 1951 by Irwin Peithmann, an archaeologist who was known for his self-taught craft and for living among Native Americans, becoming expert in their beliefs and customs. The museum at nearby Fort des Chartres was named in his honor.

The Modoc Rock Shelter is a highly stratified archeological site with over 28 feet of sediment containing artifacts. Archaeological investigations in the 1950’s and 1980’s and radiocarbon analysis has shown 3 periods of habitation in prehistoric times. 9,000 years ago the rock shelter was used for short-term camps by small groups of hunters. 6,000 years ago families used the site for a long-term base camp. 4,000 thousand years ago the shelter was again used by small hunting parties. In historic times European settlers also made use of the shelter as they made their way west. Many types of artifacts found at the site including projectile points, scrapers and choppers, hammer stones, and bone awls. Evidence has shown that during the three periods of prehistoric occupation the diet of the Native Americans consisted of deer, raccoon, opossum, birds, fish, freshwater mussels.

Note: Now owned by the State of Illinois, the Modoc Rock Shelter is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. The Modoc Rock Shelter is an archeological site and is fenced off. Please respect it by not disturbing the site.

Visiting the Modoc Rock Shelter
There is no charge to visit the Modoc Rock Shelter.

Directions: The Modoc Rock Shelter is a little tricky to spot and is most easily seen traveling from Prairie du Rocher to Modoc. From Praire du Rocher take Bluff Road (near the grain elevator) southeast approximately 2 miles to the shelter. From Ellis Grove take Roots Road to Bluff Road through Modoc and follow Bluff road approximately 2 miles to the shelter. From Ste. Genevieve cross the Mississippi River using the ferry to Levee Road. Take a left on Modoc Road following it into Modoc and take a left onto Bluff Road and drive approximately 2 miles towards Prairie du Rocher to the shelter.

GPS Coordinates
N  38°  03.760'
W 90°  03.847'

Learn more about the Prairie du Rocher area.

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