Feature 2000, East St. Louis Mound Center
In the summer of 2011, ISAS archaeologists unexpectedly encountered the lower levels of a mound in the I-70 alignment under what was the National City Stockyards. Although some 50 mounds were associated with the ancient city of East St. Louis, this mound, designated as Feature 2000 by ISAS researchers, was not previously recorded. The upper part of the mound was removed in the 1870s when the stockyards were originally constructed.
About three feet of the mound base remain, and in some places, the mound was constructed atop ancient reclaimed (filled in) borrow pits. ISAS crews conducted exploratory excavations and recorded detailed information about the construction and age of the earthen layers that make up the mound. The mound was built around A.D. 1050-1100, and while it was not built primarily to contain burials, human remains were discovered in a number of locations in and near the mound. Even though it was badly damaged by stockyard construction, Feature 2000 is a significant discovery, especially to native groups.
The discovery of this unusual set of deposits and remains prompted intensive consultation between IDOT, FHWA, Illinois State Historic Preservation Officer, Illinois State Burial Law Coordinator, and federally recognized Tribes, in particular the Osage Nation. To preserve the mound and related burials, IDOT engineers modified ditch construction plans along the east side of I-70 and moved a proposed waterline to create a permanent archaeological preserve that covers about one acre and is known as the “Feature 2000 Preservation Area.”
Before five to ten feet of protective earth was placed over the mound and related burials, ISAS archaeologists documented and sampled the complex earthen layers that make up the mound and underlying borrow pits. During I-70 construction, protective concrete barriers were placed around the perimeter of the preservation area. Fencing and other protective actions have been taken by IDOT to ensure that no disturbances occur within the Feature 2000 Preservation Area in perpetuity. The coordinated effort to preserve the remnants of this ancient monument is a testament of IDOT’s commitment to historic preservation and to good-faith consultation with native Tribes.
Chad Sanders (IDOT D8 Project Engineer), Patrick Durst (ISAS Project Archaeologist), Brad Koldehoff (IDOT Cultural Resources Specialist), Scott BigHorse (Assistant Chief Osage Nation), Norman Stoner (Division Administrator FHWA), Janis Piland (Environmental Engineer FHWA), Jon-Paul Kohler (Program Manager FHWA)