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Thursday, February 19, 2015

George Rogers Clark Memorial in Vincennes - The Conquest of the West

I mentioned a surprise discovery after we left Turkey Run State Park in Indiana during our trip earlier this month when we were passing through the town of Vincennes. The town is on the Indiana and Illinois border, the states divided by the Wabash River and is where the British and the newly declared Americans were still fighting for territory in the late 1700's.  The George Rogers Clark National Historical Park was built on what is believed to be the site of Fort Sackville.

80 feet high and 180 feet across the base, granite from Vermont, Minnesota and Alabama

We literally saw this memorial from the road as we were driving through and pulled off to see what it was about.  Upon entering the visitor center we learned we could go out and tour the inside so of course that is what we did, even though it meant braving a frigid Midwestern winter wind.

Near the 150th anniversary of the revolution, President Calvin Coolidge designated the commission to start the design and construction of the memorial, but it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who dedicated it by the time it was finished.

I really like the bronze framing the doorway but could not find any information about its design or intended significance. The whole thing is pretty cool, but Cory liked the dragons on the heat registers under the marble rotunda seat all the way around the room the best I think.

Indiana limestone and marble from France

The rotunda has a glass ceiling that lets in plenty of natural light to view the seven murals that were painted by Ezra Winters over the course of 2 years.  If you want to know more about the murals click here.

Outside on the grounds there is still quite a bit to see, and I braved the wind and jogged across the grounds to get a better look at the Lincoln Memorial Bridge too.  It was built in 1936, the same year the GRCNHP was dedicated, and is said to mark the point where Abraham Lincoln crossed the Wabash River on his way to Illinois in 1830. The pylons caught my eye when we drove across the bridge because they have Native American chiefs carved into them by French artist Raoul Josset.

Also on the grounds are a few statues including one of Francis Vigo, who was important to the revolution because he gave Clark supplies as well as information prior to the battle at Vincennes.  After the war he stayed in Vincennes where he worked in the fur trade while serving as a colonel in the militia.

Lincoln Memorial Bridge and Wabash River in background

Vigo's will stated that he wanted a bell for the Vigo County Courthouse purchased.  We didn't see the bell, but when we stopped in Terre Haute we did see the courthouse!


  1. Well that was worth stopping off for and braveing the cold to see. Did you trry doing a panorama of the murals

  2. Oh this just kills me for I was there and didn't see this. I would have loved seeing it. I must have been on the wrong road to discover it by a drive-by as you did. I did get the great mural of their hometown boy Red Skelton. Did you see it? Like this memorial, I only found the mural by accident - a drive-by when I was momentarily confused (lost).