Watch Tower Amusement Park
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)
Dickson (Pioneer) Cemetery
Treaty of 1804
John H. Hauberg
David Sears House
Twelve Moons: A Year with the
Sauk and Meskwaki
Black Hawk site was first occupied by Indians as long as 12,000 years ago, and
it was continuously inhabited through the Hopewell period, ca. 100 BC to AD
250. Villagers lived within the bounds of the present historic site, and they
built burial mounds along the bluffs above the river.
nearly a century beginning about 1730 the Sauk and Meskwaki (Fox) Indians made
their home here. Saukenuk, the capitol of the Sauk Nation and one of the largest
Indian centers in North America, stood adjacent to the site. The Sauk and the
Meskwaki farmed the land along the river and relied upon the fur trade for
their livelihood. At the height of their power they controlled parts of Illinois,
Wisconsin, Missouri and most of Iowa.
From 1882 to 1927 the Watch Tower Amusement Park occupied the
area that would become Black Hawk State Historic Site. Local
businessman Bailey Davenport, president and superintendent of the
Rock Island and Milan Steam Railway, developed the Watch Tower as a
destination for his rail line.
1933 to 1935 a camp of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was located at
Black Hawk. The CCC was the first and longest lasting of President Franklin
Roosevelt's Depression-era government work programs. Camp Black Hawk employed
more than two hundred veterans of the First World War. In exchange for clothing,
room, board and a dollar a day, the CCC men created much of the site as it appears
today. During the eighteen months they were stationed at the site, they built
six miles of hiking trails, trail structures,
parking lots and two picnic shelters; planted thousands of trees and wildflowers;
and constructed two-thirds of the present-day lodge.
In 1979 recognizing the importance of Native
American presence in Rock Island, the State of Illinois changed the
designation from Park to Historic Site. In 1984 the
north section of Black Hawk was declared a Nature Preserve.