About Prophetstown State Park


Wa-bo-kie-shiek (White Cloud), who was of mixed Winnebago and Sauk descent, served as an advisor to the great Sauk war chief Black Hawk. In 1831, the advancement of white settlement forced Black Hawk and his followers from the Rock Island area into Iowa, with the promise that they would not return.

Under treaty, the land at Rock Island still belonged to the Native Americans until sold by the United States. The frontiersmen, however, were impatient and began to occupy the site of Black Hawk’s village. In 1832, Black Hawk denounced the encroachment of the frontiersmen upon the lands of his people and set out from Iowa to retake the ceded land.

For a time in 1832, northwestern Illinois was the scene of many skirmishes between the Native Americans, the Illinois militia and the regular army. Prophetstown, the site of Wa-bo-kie-shiek’s village, was destroyed on May 10, 1832 by troops of the state militia commanded by Gen. Samuel Whiteside.

Black Hawk was finally chased into southern Wisconsin, with his retreat culminating in a decisive defeat of the Native Americans a few miles south of Bad Axe on Aug. 2, 1832. A few days later Black Hawk was captured, and after several months captivity during which time he was taken to Washington, D.C., he was permitted to return to his people in Iowa, where he died in 1838.

Natural Features

Prophetstown State Park is a predominantly wooded area located along the south bank of the Rock River. Its terrain is relatively flat and lies within the floodplain of the river. Predominant trees are maple, cottonwood, oak, walnut and locust. Animal species often seen are squirrels, rabbits, ducks, muskrats, raccoons and deer. Coon Creek flows through the park and feeds into the Rock River, creating a natural area for fish.