Soon, road signs marking the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail will be posted across the area as part of the ongoing effort to showcase its history and hopefully attract tourists.
The first sample sign was on display last week inside the Monroe County Highway Department office at the courthouse.
Retired Columbia educator Dennis Patton conducted extensive research on the trail and its importance to the area, presenting his findings to the general public during city, county and local organizational meetings.
“We plan to make 50 to start,” Patton said of the signs. “The counties and cities will decide where to place them between Cahokia and the Kaskaskia Lock and Dam that is located right where the old trail ran to Kaskaskia before the Mississippi separated it.”
He said the Peoria Tribe of Illiniwek in Oklahoma is coming to the area next spring and will visit Columbia and Waterloo, as well as Cahokia Mounds and some burial grounds recently discovered in East St. Louis where the old stockyards were.
In October, Patton and the Columbia Heritage Preservation Commission received the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for this research work during a ceremony in Chicago.
Patton said the goal of the trail project is to make certain the Kaskaskia-Cahokia Trail, one of oldest known roads in Illinois, gets the same recognition as the National Road, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Lincoln Heritage Trail, and Route 66.
Patton is available to give his presentation to any organization that is interested. Call 281-7463 for more information.