Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Piasa and another river (the Illinois)

[Photo taken going South on the Illinois side of Mississippi River, with Sioux Power plant in view.]
In our wanderings up the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, we kept running into the word "piasa" - the Piasa creek, the Piasa Winery.
On the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, north of Alton, there is a river road with limestone bluffs on one side, and the river on the other. High on the bluffs there is a painting of a strange bird-like monster. This is the Piasa Bird (pronounced Pie – a – saw).

Father Jacques Marquette saw images of this monster on the bluff while exploring the Mississippi River in 1673. The bird is called “The Piasa” by the Illini Indians, meaning, the bird that devours men. For centuries, every Indian who passed in his canoe fired an arrow at the figure of the bird. More about the Legend of the Piasa Bird is here.

Yesterday we hiked around the Pere Marquette Illinois State Park, which is where the Illinois River dumps into the Mississippi River. This is just north of Grafton, Ill. – a very cute little river town which is not too far from us if we take the ferry. We decided to do this some day in autumn.
This Illinois River.
The Illinois River runs through Illinois, almost to Lake Michigan, and was important to Native Americans and early French traders.

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