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High water forces Liberty Bell Fourth of July event to Fort Kaskaskia

  • Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site's recently rebuilt Main Shelter House.

    Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site's recently rebuilt Main Shelter House.
    Courtesy of the IDNR

Submitted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
updated: 7/3/2019 4:56 PM

The annual Liberty Bell of the West Patriotic Celebration July 4, usually held at the Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial, will instead be held this year at Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site's recently rebuilt Main Shelter House because of flooding on the Mississippi River.

"The road to the Kaskaskia Bell State Memorial has been covered with water since April due to flooding," said Site Superintendent Chester Wingerter. "The bell remains at Kaskaskia, a testament to the spirit of the first European congregation in Illinois. In the meantime, we look forward to celebrating the Fourth of July at Fort Kaskaskia's shelter."

The patriotic celebration will begin at 1 p.m. July 4 at the Fort Kaskaskia shelter, which overlooks the Mississippi River.

The Chester Municipal Band will entertain with patriotic selections, with local VFW, American Legion, and Scout troop participants presenting the colors and a salute.

Dr. Michael Fogerson, pastor of First Baptist Church, will offer an invocation and benediction.

The French Marines of Fort de Chartres will fire a salute to freedom, with all attendees invited to participate as honorary bell ringers.

Featured speaker for the celebration will be David MacDonald, discussing "The Decline of Kaskaskia, the Rise of Chester." MacDonald completed his doctorate in history at the University of Minnesota in 1972, specializing in ancient history. He taught at Illinois State University from 1971 until his retirement in 2005. He has published three books and more than 50 academic articles on ancient history.

MacDonald's new book, co-authored with Raine Waters, "Kaskaskia: The Lost Capital of Illinois" (Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale, 2019) will be available after the ceremony.

A light lunch will be offered by the Kaskaskia Church Committee at approximately 11:30 a.m.

• Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site, administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, is open year-round. To get there, turn west off Illinois Route 3 onto Shawneetown Trail, seven miles north of Chester. Follow the signs to 4372 Park Road and continue to the overlook shelter.