Fort de Chartres
1350 IL Route 155
Prairie du Rocher
The site grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week.
The Museum and display buildings are typically open Tuesday thru Sunday 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, depending on staff availability, Closed All Holidays. Self guide tours only.
The shelter is available on a first come first serve basis. Office phone number for further information is 618-284-7230.
NOTE ANDROID USERS ONLY: The donation payment processing function in the Illinois History mobile application for Android devices is currently down. Donations are still being processed through the web site at https://dnrhistoric.illinois.gov/experience/sites.html.We apologize for the inconvenience.
Teachers in Illinois schools (grades prekindergarten through 12) can apply for grant funds to visit this site on a field trip with their students. Click here for the details.
Located on Illinois Route 155, four miles west of Prairie du Rocher, the site marks the location of the last of three successive forts named “de Chartres” built by the French during their eighteenth-century colonial occupation of what is today Illinois. The first two forts were erected in the 1720s and were square palisaded wooden structures with corner bastions. The third fort, erected in the 1750s, was a massive square stone structure enclosing six buildings, including a still-standing powder magazine that may be the oldest building in Illinois. This fort served as the French seat of government and its chief military installation in the Illinois Country. In 1763 France ceded much of its territory in North America, including Illinois, to Great Britain. British troops occupied the fort from 1765 until 1772, when encroachment by the Mississippi River caused a collapse of the south wall. Subsequently, the remaining walls and buildings fell into ruin.
The site features an imaginative reconstruction of portions of the third Fort de Chartres. The fort gate, built in the 1920s, has been remodeled several times. Portions of the fort's walls were reconstructed on original foundations in 1989. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Inside the fort are the “restored” powder magazine (portions of which are original), several reconstructed stone buildings, and the exposed foundations of other buildings, which have been “ghosted” in wood. The powder magazine is stocked with reproduction barrels and barrel racks. A combination museum and office building, built in 1928 on the foundation of an original fort building, houses exhibits depicting French life at Fort de Chartres. The large stone “Guards House,” built in 1936, contains a Catholic chapel furnished in the style of the 1750s, along with a priest’s room, a gunner’s room, an officer-of-the-day room, and a guard’s room. Also on the grounds are an operating bake oven, a garden shed built of upright logs in “post-on-sill” construction, and a kitchen garden with raised beds of produce that would have been grown in eighteenth-century Illinois.
Interpretive signs at various locations guide visitors around the site, and every weekend at least one costumed interpreter offers information on the history of the three forts. The museum is open daily. A trading post, housed in a structure resembling the fort’s reproduced stone buildings, offers souvenirs, snack foods, and reproductions of items that might have been found in eighteenth-century Illinois. Recreational facilities outside the reproduced fort include a day-use area with a picnic shelter and horseshoe pits.
The site hosts a number of special events, including the “Fort de Chartres Rendezvous” held in June, the “French and Indian War Winter Encampment” in February, “Kids Days” in May, the “French and Indian War Assemblage” in September, “French Colonial Crafts and Trades” in October, and “La Guianne” in December. Contact the site for details.
Fort de Chartres is located about 4 miles west of the village of Prairie Du Rocher. There are two parking lots to access the site and one maintenance road / staff parking lot entrance, all entrances are NE of state route 155. The first parking lot (#1) is asphalt has four accessible spots and from this parking lot a visitor can access the fort via the pea gravel walkway / path that leads to the rear Landgate entrance that is about 150 yards. Also, from this parking lot disabled visitors can access a concrete sidewalk that leads to the only shelter on site. Walking through the shelter the concrete sidewalk continues and leads to two accessible pit privies.
The second parking lot (#2) which is right next to and connected to parking lot #1 has no accessible parking spots, it is asphalt. There is a sidewalk from this parking lot that is accessible and leads to the sites only shelter. Going thought he shelter to the right is the sidewalk leading to the handicap accessible pit privies.
The Maintenance road / staff parking lot has two accessible parking spots, it is also asphalt and from these parking spots visitors can access the pea gravel maintenance road that leads to the fort museum / office, various walk paths inside the fort partial walls and garden, about a 120-yard walk.
Once inside the fort whether from the Rear Landgate (SE), side or the maintenance road(SW), side of the fort visitors can walk to the various display building and the museum. None of the display building are accessible, all have at least one step or more. The museum does have a wheelchair ramp on the SW side of the museum / office building that is close to the maintenance road. It is made of wood and can be slippery when weather conditions are wet. Walking all the paths to every building and to the museum one can expect to walk close to 300 yards on a pea gravel walk path that is sometimes spongy depending on weather conditions. ALL WALK PATHS ARE PEA GRAVEL. In the museum are two accessible bathrooms and past the garden trade store area is a walk path that leads SE to two accessible pit privies SE of the fort.
Self-guided tours only and visitors are free to explore the site at their leisure. The Les Amis Fort de Chartres friends' group will dress in period clothing and give interpretive tours. Request can be made for a tour, but consideration is on a case-by-case basis usually for large groups only, (normally school children / class), and depending on volunteer availability. Unfortunately, we do not have the staff or time to accommodate every request of every visitor.
There are a few picnic tables in the shelter and a few near the maintenance road that are accessible to a disabled visitor to sit at.