|Southernmost Illinois History||
The crescent shape of the Ohio River between Metropolis and Cairo was one of the busiest "interstate highways" as settlers on flatboats headed west. The King of France just after 1700 had sanctioned a huge buffalo hide tanning operation at Grand Chain / Mound City.
In 1800, this was the western edge of the country, with half the US military housed at the top of the crescent near Grand Chain. French, Spanish and British troops were nearby, wondering what happens next, and the US commander was considering breaking off and starting his own country in the southwest. (see impeachment of Aaron Burr)
Mound City and Cairo were staging areas, hospitals and a big cemetery for the Civil War. Cairo is at the confluence of the Ohio (below, right) and Mississippi rivers. The confluence of 200 years ago was at the southern tip of the business district, on the north side of the cultivated fields.
Pieces of Southern Illinois History