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Starved Rock State Park is an Illinoismarker state park located in Utica, Illinoismarker, in rural LaSalle County, Illinoismarker, about 75 miles (120 km) west-southwest of downtown Chicagomarker. The park is 2,630 acres (10 kmĀ²) in size and includes 13 miles (21 km) of hiking trails, numerous waterfalls (ice falls in winter) and other landforms. The park contains 18 sandstone canyons carved over the last 12,000 years by a combination of surface water runoff and groundwater outflow. Starved Rockmarker is a large eroded butte overlooking the Illinois River. Starved Rock was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960.

This area has been inhabited by humans since 8000 B.C.E. Hopewellian, Woodland and Mississippian Native American cultures thrived here. The most recent, and probably the most numerous, group of Native Americans to live here were the Illiniwek, from the 1500s to the 1700s. Approximately 5,000 to 7,000 Kaskaskias, a group of the Illinois Confederacy, had a village extending along the bank of the Illinois River across from the current park.

Frenchmarker explorers built a fort called Fort St. Louis atop the rock in 1682 but because of pressure from the Illiniwek, they abandoned it by the early 1700s.

The rock derives its name from a story of Illiniwek history. A band of Illiniwek was reportedly trapped in the 1760s on the rock by a band of Potawatomi trying to avenge the death of the Ottawa Chief Pontiac. The Illiniwek scrambled to the top of the rock, where the Ottawa and allied Potawatomi laid siege until their enemies had starved to death.


Wildcat Canyon Waterfall
Camping, boating and fishing are popular activities in the park. On the property is the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center, a 1930s lodge built of full timbers by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), one of numerous public works projects commissioned by the Federal government during the Great Depression. It is in National Park Service Rustic style. Overnight accommodations and restaurant are available at the park and in nearby communities of LaSalle, Oglesby, Ottawa, Peru and Utica.

Starved Rock State Park is one of the busiest State Parks in Illinois, with yearly attendance over 1 million visitors each year. While the natural areas show definite signs of great use (erosion is one of the biggest problems the park faces), a great deal of botanical diversity is found there. As an example, 18 species of ferns have been identified in the forest, wetland, and canyon habitats.

Visitors are advised to stay on the trail for their safety. Typically, at least one or two individuals fall off a cliff each year. There were four deaths from falls between 1999 and 2006.[70523] No venomous or dangerous animals have been identified within the park. Nearby Matthiessen State Park had a very unusual sighting of a timber rattlesnake in the 1980s. Experts do not know what to make of the sighting.

Recent history

Sandstone cliff
On March 14, 1960, three women were murdered in St. Louis Canyon. A lodge employee named Chester Weger confessed to robbing and killing the three victims, but later recanted, alleging that his confession had been coerced. He was convicted, based chiefly on his confession. He is serving a life sentence. Due to controversy over his confession and alleged police mishandling of evidence, some activists have tried to have the case retried. Wager's confession was taken before the court case establishing the right of prisoners to remain silent when being questioned by police (the Miranda v. Arizona US Supreme Courtmarker case).

See also

Starved Rockmarker


  • Steve Stout, The Starved Rock Murders


Starved Rock is in close proximity to both I-39 (Exit 54) and I-80 (Exit 81). Both Illinois Routes 71 and 178 run through the park.

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