The Curse of Kaskaskia


The legend of Kaskaskia centers around a young Indian named Ampakaya, who, in 1735, had run off with a French woman named Marie Bernard. Marie’s father caught up with them and bound Ampakaya to a log and sent him down the river. As he floated down the river, Ampakaya cursed the Frenchman and his village which flooded a short time later. Marie was put into a convent where she ultimately died. Small portions of the old village remain in Randolph County, Illinois. The rest of the village, now known as Kaskaskia Island, lies west of the Mississippi River and can only be accessed from Missouri.

Most of the town was destroyed in April 1881 by flooding, as the Mississippi River shifted eastward to a new channel, taking over the lower 10 miles (16 km) of the Kaskaskia River. This resulted from deforestation of the river banks during the 19th century, due to the need for wood fuel to feed the steamboat traffic. The river now passes east rather than west of the town. The state boundary line, however, remained in its original location. Accordingly, if the Mississippi River is considered to be a
break in physical continuity, Kaskaskia is an exclave of Illinois, lying west of the Mississippi and only reachable from Missouri. A bridge crosses the old riverbed, a creek that is sometimes filled with water, and sometimes not. Kaskaskia has Missouri
telephone area code and a Missouri zip code. Its roads,however, are maintained by IDOT and its few residents vote in the Illinois elections.

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