"Thus the role played by Kaskaskia in the great drama of history closed in tragedy."
March 30, 2007 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Kaskaskia: The western Illinois town stuck in eastern Missouri. First state capital, bustling economic center and a leading town in the state. That is, until the flood of 1881 cut a new river channel, destroying most of the town and leaving the remnants on the Missouri side of the Mississippi. Whether or not the disaster was due to a murdered lover's curse, the (remaining) residents petitioned that the state line be kept along the older riverbed. The town's population, once about 7000, now consists of a meager nine. [wiki]
posted by luftmensch (11 comments total)
posted by noble_rot at 2:05 PM on March 30, 2007

Dah, thanks noble_rot, I'd intended to link to a map in there somewhere. Note Old Kaskaskia north of the current village, which is the remains of the original town.
posted by luftmensch at 2:16 PM on March 30, 2007

Pictures (bottom). It's kind of somber to see what one branch of the former Mississippi looks like nowadays.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:25 PM on March 30, 2007

As a Missourian I offer this slight derail:

I sometimes joke that the people of the Boot Heel must've been real bad if Arkansas wanted them gerrymandered out.
posted by sourwookie at 2:52 PM on March 30, 2007

One of the interesting things about Kaskaskia is that it illustrates how early settlement in Illinois was from south to north, along the rivers, rather than east to west, as it was West of the Mississippi. Indiana and Ohio are the same way.
posted by dhartung at 3:28 PM on March 30, 2007

What I love about Google Earth is that you can see where the river channel was. It is very obvious why Kaskaskia was placed in Illinois originally.
posted by davebarnes at 3:29 PM on March 30, 2007

I went to Kaskaskia College.
posted by MapGuy at 3:31 PM on March 30, 2007

I lived in Missouri for the first 21 years of my life and never heard of Kaskaskia. But this is interesting.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:49 PM on March 30, 2007

Very interesting. There's a famous lawsuit, Kroger v. Owen Equipment, that hinges on the fact that a river had changed course, which made it so that a lawsuit couldn't be in a federal court because of lack of diversity of citizenship. The one party kept what state it was actually doing business in a secret, and sprung it on the first day of trial. (Due to the fact that a lack of subject matter jurisdiction always throws the case out of federal court, no matter how sneaky anyone was in hiding this fact, the case was in fact dismissed.)
posted by yesno at 4:07 PM on March 30, 2007

Stavros, don't get any funny ideas.
posted by Spike at 5:16 PM on March 30, 2007

This is a fascinating part of the world for the history geek. Between Ste. Genevieve and St. Louis, on either side of the river, are a surprising number of French colonial houses, forts, churches, and cemeteries. It was the site of a booming multiracial French-Indian-African society for decades before the Louisiana Purchase. Ste. Genevieve contains more French colonial buildings than any town in the U.S., and a fair few rural households spoke French as their primary language as late as the 1960s.
posted by LarryC at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2007

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