About Dixon Springs

Dixon Springs Park Brochure

History

Dixon Springs was occupied by various tribes of Algonquins who, after the Shawnee had been driven from Tennessee, had settled near the mouth of the Wabash River. It was one of their favorite camping grounds and was called “Kitchemus-ke-nee-be” or the Great Medicine Waters.

One of the better known Indian trails, which the early French called the “Grand Trace,” passed to the west of the park and south to Fort Massac, then branched out into lesser trails. Much of the “Grand Trace” is Illinois Route 145, one of the most scenic highways in the state, running nearly all of its length south from Harrisburg through the Shawnee National Forest.

This section of the state was part of an Indian reservation occupied for a time by about 6,000 Native Americans. Like the buffalo, most were gone by the early 1830s.

Dixon Springs takes its name from William Dixon, who obtained a school land warrant in 1848 from Gov. Augustus C. French. His cabin was a landmark for many years as was an old log church on the adjoining knoll. A small community grew up at Dixon Springs and featured a general store, post office, blacksmith shop, grist mill, and several churches.

In the mid-19th century, Dixon Springs became a health spa which attracted hundreds of people to its seven springs of mineral-enriched water. A bathhouse provided soft water baths year-round. Because of the topography and geology of the area, summers are mild compared to other parts of the state. This made the spa popular with tourists as far away as Nashville, TN.

Dixon Springs was eventually purchased by the state of Illinois in 1946 and became a state park shortly thereafter.

Natural Scene

Dixon Springs is home to spectacular topography not found in most of the state. Bold cliffs and crags overhang a bubbling brook, while large boulders overgrown with ferns, ivy, lichen, and moss fringe the hillside. Giant century-old trees interlock above the small creek as cliffs rise on either side. Huge boulders are scattered throughout the valley. During rainy weather, rivulets cascade down the hills in the park, forming waterfalls of varying size and height.

Equally intriguing are the names given to the numerous points of interest, including Album Rock, Wolf Pen, Lover’s Leap, Ghost Dance, Pluto’s Cave, Alligator Rock, Chain of Rocks, Devil’s Workshop, and Honey Comb Rock. The principal canyon has walls nearly 60 feet high, with a long, narrow passageway.

Deer, squirrel, rabbit, groundhog, and fox are sometimes seen among the park’s trees, which include oak, cypress, gum, pine, sycamore, walnut, persimmon, hickory, birch, and maple. Dogwood and catalpa trees blossom profusely in season. In the spring, jack-in-the-pulpit, violet, lady’s slipper, mayapple, and sweet william lend even more natural beauty.