by Michael R. Allen
Perhaps you have seen the rough granite stone ceremoniously placed in the limestone ring at the intersection where Howard, Broadway and Seventh streets meet on the north riverfront. Know what it is? This stone once held a plaque — later stolen, perhaps to be scrapped at the metal yards up the street — commemorating the famous prehistoric Big Mound. The Big Mound stood one block north at the northeast corner of Broadway and Mound Street until 1869, when it was removed to make way for industrial construction. The iconic Big Mound was 30 feet tall and 150 feet wide, and plainly visible from the Mississippi River. That mound and others helped conjure our city’s nickname of “Mound City.”
The new Mississippi River Bridge will not impact the site of this marker, but it will claim the site of the old mound. Federal funds ensure that archaeological mitigation work will be done, so we may have a chance at making discoveries about the mound. Meanwhile, the Mounds Heritage Trail Route will connect the north riverfront mounds with those in East St. Louis and at Cahokia Mounds. That project will include permanent markers. perhaps the plaque will return.