Starved Rock State Park – The Legend

February 8, 2013

Our newest addition to our website is our Blog…we are still working on the look, but check back weekly for our newest blog post. This first post is the Legend of Starved Rock.

History of Park



Starved Rock obtained its name from a legendary incident that occurred in the 1760s when a small village of 500 Illinois Indians still lived in this area.  During this time the dominant tribe was the Ottawa Indians who controlled the Potawatomi and Fox Indians and lived up river from here.


The chief of the Ottawa Indians, Pontiac, went to the southern part of the state to for a tribal council meeting and was murdered by an Illinois Indian from this area.  When word got back to the Potawatomi and Fox, they were out to avenge their leader’s death.  They paddled down river and attacked the Illinois’ village by the great rock.  A fierce battle went on for several days.  During the battle, the Illinois tribe was reduced by half.  The Potawatomi and Fox went back to regroup and the Illinois knew that if they were to survive, they would have to abandon their village.  They decided to seek refuge on top of the great rock.


When the Potawatomi and Fox returned, they surrounded the base of the rock.  They periodically went to the top of Devil’s Nose and showered the Illinois with arrows.   As the Illinois grew more desperate, they tried to sneak off the rock at night, but all that attempted it were killed.  Eventually, all of the Illinois Indians on top of the rock starved, and ever since, the site has been called “Starved Rock”.


There are no written records to prove this event actually happened.  The story came down through the years from Indian storytellers.  However, archeological excavations have revealed numerous artifacts including skeletons and weapons used over 1,000 years ago.