Black Hawk State Historic Site


Who Was Black Hawk
Mini Documentary with Beth Carvey

Sauk &  
Meskwaki (Fox)

   Black Hawk

Watch Tower Amusement Park

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

Dickson (Pioneer) Cemetery

Treaty of 1804

War of 1812

History Corner
John H. Hauberg

David Sears House

Twelve Moons: A Year with the Sauk and Meskwaki

Lodge History


The 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.

For 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.

From 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.