National Park status for Cahokia Mounds will broaden region’s appeal
Beer, baseball and the Gateway Arch.
These seem to be the top three identifiers for the St. Louis area when talking to people outside of the Missouri and Illinois borders. I discovered it firsthand in casual conversations traveling and living in other places.
I say I’m from the St. Louis area and that’s what always got the answer.
Even during my honeymoon at Universal Studios, the actor who portrayed the famous Back to the Future character Doc Brown asked where we were from. I responded with great pride with: “St. Louis. “
“Ah, St. Louis,” he said in an intriguing tone. “The Gateway Arch and the ‘Gateway to the West’ – or the East, whichever direction you are facing.”
Then of course there is Anheuser-Busch and the Cardinals.
It’s kind of sad when you think about it. Because there is so much more in the region. Maybe it’s just me, but I want people in this space to think more than just beer, baseball, and westward expansion (including Gateway Arch).
Making Cahokia Mounds a national park with neighboring hills under the Home Office umbrella could very well broaden the identity of this area not only in terms of reference but also as a tourist destination.
How great would it be to meet a stranger and tell them you are from the St. Louis area and ask them to let you know that he came or will be in town for Cahokia Mounds alone?
If it adds to the appeal of the region for people to come and see how wonderful this metropolitan area (which includes two states) is, then I’m in the county.
The history and importance of the Cahokia Hills should and must be promoted at the national level. Needless to say, Cahokia was once New York’s Native American community, and the preservation of what can be visited today should be shared with the country and the world.
My father’s family are all from Fairmont City, and going to or even past the Cahokia Mounds has always been an amazing experience. Just getting closer to Collinsville Road is exciting in itself.
I remember driving in the passenger seat of my grandmother on the way to my aunt and uncle’s house in Collinsville to hang out with my cousins and every time we took Collinsville Road it shone massive Monk’s Mound – the heart of the country – from the ground in the distance as we approached.
There were also times when we would walk the grounds with grandpa and visit the museum to marvel at the history right in front of us. Personally, I have always enjoyed the various statues in the facility that depict Native American life. A wonderful window into the past that still lives there.
And when it came to reaching the top of Monk’s Mound, at least for a boy who wasn’t even 10 years old, it might as well have been Mount Everest because it was a daunting task to get to the top. The view there is of course incredible.
I am sure that exploring Cahokia Mounds and literally walking in history will be a real experience for visitors. I mean, how great is it to know that a thriving, densely populated Indian village was operating there as you moved from hill to hill?
Imagine the feeling of being welcomed by visitors from all over the country. Imagine someone who chooses to come to this area, our area, because they want to say they visited the Cahokia Mounds National Historic Park. Just the thought makes me proud that tourists could expand their identity in our region.
I love the Gateway Arch, beer, and especially baseball. But the time has come to bring more than three generic, obviously identifiable, traits to this region, and Cahokia Mounds will – and hopefully make people curious about more of what we have to offer.