The area memorialized by this park has been under the flags of three nations: France, Great Britain, and the United States. Kaskaskia, established by the French in 1703, prospered as an important outpost on the Mississippi and a source of agricultural commodities. During the French and Indian War, the French erected a palisaded fort on the hill across the Kaskaskia River. Apparently it was never attacked, and the inhabitants destroyed it themselves after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, when the British assumed control of the Illinois country.
During the American War for Independence, George Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskia. From 1809 to 1818, the town served as the first capital of Illinois Territory. When Illinois became a State in 1818, it served as the capital for 2 years, but after 1820 began to decline. A disastrous Mississippi flood in 1844 destroyed most of the town, and in 1910 another flood completely obliterated the site.
Fort Kaskaskia State Park includes the home of Pierre Menard, built in 1802, which stands just below the hill on which the fort stood. The home is an excellent example of French colonial architecture. Nearby, close to the fort site, is the Garrison Hill Cemetery, which contains the remains of many early settlers. Some of the ramparts of Fort Kaskaskia are still visible, and on Kaskaskia Island the State of Illinois has erected a memorial to the pioneer French settlement. - NPS