Visitors Guide to the
Randolph County, Illinois
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.
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,
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.
Modoc Rock Shelter
There is no charge to visit the Modoc Rock
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.
W 90° 03.847'
Learn more about the Prairie du Rocher area.