Friday, May 2, 2014

Burden Falls Wilderness

In our travels covering Southern Illinois I have often written of places we have seen within the Shawnee National Forest.  More than 280,000 acres of that forest lie in rough unglaciated areas of southern Illinois known as the Ozark and Shawnee hills.  John and I decided that there was still a lot of the Shawnee Forest we needed to see yet, which prompted us to take another road trip over the roads of southern Illinois yesterday.   And again we found the scenery quite spectacular with rolling hills, meadows and forests dotted with blooming dogwood and red bud trees.  Flowering azaleas, iris, and wisteria are also contributing now to the springtime beauty.  At Bell Smith Springs we saw a fairly large patch of wild flowers.
Shawnee National Forest has seven wilderness areas designated by Congress in 1990.  Yesterday we were in the Burden Falls Wilderness- Bell Smith Springs is located within that area.  We could not do any hiking whatsoever around the springs because of high water which even covered the foot paths.  At Burden Falls, however, we could do a some walking around the falls, but the paths were quite muddy.
Burden Falls is an impressive series of falls with a total drop of 100 feet.  Our last stop of the
day was at Millstone Bluff Trail.  John is pictured below standing in front of the bluff with his grandson Nathan.  The baby has been a good traveler this past week, as long as we keep the car moving!
The bluff use to be the site of an old quarry from which early settlers retrieved sandstone to make millstones.  However, the more important story at the top of the bluff is the presence of a settlement of prehistoric Native Americans 1,500 years ago.   Archeologists have found here what remains of a stone wall, community cemetery, rock carvings and village dwellings.  We hiked up the bluff to view those sites.  Pictured below are the rock formations on which we could barely discern the petroglyphs.  Wind and rain have eroded much of the carvings of the Mississippian people who once lived here.  Looters have removed many of their artifacts.

No comments:

Post a Comment