Starved Rock Foundation

The Newell Fort

In the Starved Rock Visitor Center is a display called the Newell Fort Exhibit. The exhibit contains eighteenth century artifacts of European manufacture that were said to have been uncovered at a site south of Starved Rock by Frank and Jack Newell during the Great Depression. The exhibit includes musket balls, musket parts, gun flints, trade beads, and other items. Although the display is a wonderful collection of historic artifacts, there is some controversy pertaining to what the so-called Newell Fort may have been.

The Newells were not trained archaeologists and the items they unearthed were not the product of an excavation directed by a qualified university trained professional. Making the finds from the Newell Fort site more problematic is the absence of period documentation attesting to a French or English fort, trade post, or other facility located south of Starved Rock.

Some people have speculated that the Newell site may have been the actual location of La Salle's Fort Saint Louis, a proposition that has no support whatsoever in the well-documented historical record. Others have suggested that the site may have been a small outpost established by Pierre Deliette in the early eighteenth-century.

Whatever the Newell Fort site may have been will likely remain a mystery until credible evidence becomes available. The destruction of the site has rendered the Newell Fort a historical enigma. What is interesting, however, is the wonderful collection of eighteenth century artifacts that can be viewed by the public at the Starved Rock Visitor Center.

Newell Fort


Newell Fort Exhibit