Southern Illinois is surrounded by history, much of that history dates back to the Civil War.
Reminders of the war can be found etched in the rocks at Giant City State Park, which was dedicated in 1927 and has 4,000 acres of land in the Shawnee National Forest.
Before becoming a state park, many cliffs and canyons were used as havens by both Confederate and Union soldiers, according to the park website.
The park’s history has brought many visitors and scientists to study the area.
According to Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA), three historic sites at Thompson, Battery Rock and Henry Angel, located on federal and state land, all consist of names and other images carved by Union soldiers during the Civil War.
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It is thought by the ESRARA that the historic markings may have been created by Union soldiers as warnings to Confederate sympathizers.
One carving is of the Fremont Body Guard in rock overhangs, another is the name of John Henry Angel of the 6th Illinois Calvary on creek bedrock. And at Battery Rock, troops presumed to be from Indiana carved the American flag and their names on a rock face, according to ESRARA.
These historic locations are the first historic period rock art sites within Illinois to be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.
Other markings on cliffs at the park have revealed evidence of human habitation in Southern Illinois from about 10,000 years ago, evidenced by ceilings blackened by fire. A Native American stone wall erected between A.D. 600-800 can also be seen near the main entrance to the park, according to the park website.
To learn more about Giant City State Park, visit www.dnr.illinois.gov.