Historical Time Line of Events at Emiquon

13,500 B.C.

Glacial dam breaches at Marseilles, Illinois. Kankakee Torrent scours floodplain into bedrock, creates river 16.15 km (26 miles) wide with water depth of some 40 km (130 feet) that probably comes within 6 m (20 feet) of overtopping Illinois River bluff.  Deposits thick sand, gravel, and sediment accumulation in its wake.

<10,000 B.C. Flag Lake paleochannel scours floodplain to bedrock, removes much of thick deposition left by  Kankakee Torrent.  Channel probably existed as a braided stream gradually in filling over next few millennia.
6,350 B.C. First Thompson Lake paleochannel cuts through in filled Flag Lake basin, again nearly to bedrock, but is much narrower than before.  Active for unknown period before in filling.
4,910 B.C. Thompson Lake paleochannel reactivated, but is narrower yet and only half as deep as before.  Flows until about 2,000 B.C. and is still in process of in filling.
1673 First Europeans Marquette and Jolliet visit Emiquon.
1687 Henri Joutel provides first description of Emiquon and difficulty in determining route of Illinois River through area.

Legardeur Delisle passes by Emiquon, briefly describing terrain.

1773 Patrick Kennedy visits area while searching for copper, describes natural environment in some detail.

Harriette Newton Eveland and family build first known log cabin at Emiquon.
First recorded birth, John Eveland, grandson of Harriette.


First recorded death, Harriette Eveland, is buried behind Coal Creek cabin.


Probable mid date for Jonathan Harn dairy operation in northwest corner of USFWS property, Section 11.


Young duck hunters William Bryant and Franklin Burgett drown in Thompson Lake, falling through ice in a boating accident.


Work begins on narrow-gauge railroad that operates until 1934, crosses three USFWS tracts.


Percel Cox killed by Albert “Bud” Bowman in drunken brawl at “The Prairie.”


First detailed scientific analyses begun by Illinois Natural History Survey.


First detailed description of environment provided by University of Illinois student Wallace Craig.

Forbes provides map depicting early wagon roads through Emiquon, as well as  other unrecorded features.


Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal diversion of water down Illinois River increases local  pool stage height by three feet, eradicates large sections of bottomland forest, rejuvenates Flag Lake, and significantly increases size of Thompson Lake.

1901 Thompson Lake purchased and Indianapolis Rod and Gun Club organized.
1902 Indianapolis Rod and Gun Club name changed to Thompson Lake Rod and Gun Club.  Clubhouse built at lake edge.
1902-1904 First contour map of area published by Woermann et al.  Contains approximate 1.95 m (6.4 foot) general contour elevation error.

Construction begins on Chicago, Peoria, and St. Louis railroad, but is aborted after only raised causeway is completed across bottomland.

Dredged channel called The Cut Road provides access to Thompson Lake from Illinois River. Pump station provides water control.
1912 Warren Crabtree killed by Willis “Slim” Miles in dispute over Crabtree daughter. 

Proposed Thompson and Flag Lake levee and drainage ditch system first appears on Atlas of Fulton County, Illinois map, with drainage system to connect with The Cut Road pump station.

Probable date that private Crabtree Drainage District levee completed, enclosing 1,440 acres of what is now North and South Globe.  1917 date is also indicated. Date of pump house construction probably coincidental with levee.


Thompson Lake Levee and Drainage District forms.


Joy Morton and wife become members of Thompson Lake Rod and Gun Club.


Construction of Thompson Lake levee begins.


First Illinois River levee finished, isolating Thompson, Flag, and Seibs Lakes from river, main pump house constructed.


Crabtree District (South Globe) levee breaks on April 14 or 15.


Thompson Lake drained, resulting in destruction of 1,800,000 pounds of fish, of which 600,000 pounds are salvaged.


First rice crop harvested from reclaimed lake ground.


Second Illinois River levee begun after disastrous flood, finished 1929.

Crabtree District levee either again breaks or is overtopped by flood.

Ancient proboscidian remains found during second Illinois River levee construction.


First Morton farm “company” houses built in bottomland.


First class in new Morton School, operates only 24 years before consolidation.

First school of archaeological technique in eastern U.S. established on Morton Ridge by University of Chicago.  Lodge on blufftop and clubhouse at lake shore serve as student dormitories and labs.

Seven burial mounds excavated by University of Chicago along Morton Ridge between 1930 and 1933.

Rare ancient musk ox skeletal remains found on Morton Ridge by University of Chicago.

1933 May 1 tornado destroys several homes.

Joy Morton dies. Sons and other investors form Morton Farms Company.

Illinois Highway 78/97 built.

Narrow gauge railroad ceases operation.


Probable date when Morton Lodge moved to bottomland.


Dickson Mounds causeway (Route 9) built.

Ancient proboscidian remains found in dredging for Dickson Mounds causeway.


Flood waters overtop Illinois River levee, highest river level on record (with 1985).

Morton properties west of highway become listed under ownership of Homewood Rod and Gun Club.


Old Crabtree Drainage District reorganized as Globe drainage district.

1947 Morton Farms Company sold to Norris Farms Fair Oaks Olympia Corporation.

Tenants move out of company houses in March.

Fifteen-acre cattle feedlot probably begun at this time.

1952 Probable date of Sister Creeks Duck Club dam construction.

Morton school closes.


Dickson Mounds causeway widened and hard-surfaced.


Approximate date of Norris Farms gravel pit operation.  Briefly opened again in 1997.

Globe District pump house burned.


Archaeological investigations begin once more under auspices of Dickson Mounds Museum.


Probable construction date of second cattle feedlot on blufftop, used until late 1970s.


Central Illinois Public Service places 5.5 miles (3.42 km) of underground gas line across property.

1973 Probable construction date of airstrip, used until 1999.
1974 West South Globe levee collapses, archaeological sites 11F677 and 11F678 receive direct initial damage and further damage from levee repair.

Italian Barilla family (a.k.a. Busoni) purchases Norris Farms.


Trenching for field tile through site 11F331 allows examination of underlying sediments.


Repair of Sister Creeks levee results in damage to archaeological site 11F2381.


Wilder Tract deforested.

Acreage of Oxbow Unit between west horseshoe slough and Spoon River deforested.

Archaeological salvage at Morton Ridge in aftermath of land development.

Irrigation system covering 3,500 acres (1,417 ha) installed in bottomland.


Upland deforested and farmed.

Norris Farms Archaeological Project begins with site reconnaissance of deforested upland.

Archaeological excavation of 11F2645.


Archaeological excavation of 11F2646.

Norris Farms attempts to permanently drain Oxbow Unit by ditching to Illinois River.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers obtains Cease and Desist Order, stopping project short of completion in early 1983.

Cleared acreage of Oxbow Unit first farmed.


Archaeological sites 11F678 and 11F679 essentially destroyed during levee repair and drainage improvements.

First crop produced on Wilder Tract after deforestation.


Archaeological excavation of 11F2 in aftermath of feedlot clearing.

Test excavation of natural loess blowout depression at 11F2.

Road grading exposes Middle Woodland house at 11F3177.

Archaeological excavation begins of 11F2 and Norris Farms 36 Cemetery 11F2698.


South Globe levee breached by flood waters, highest river level on record (with 1943). Water rises onto Dickson Mounds causeway.

Betty Herrin killed on Illinois River bank by Harold Cable during argument.


Archaeological excavation of Oneota House 7, 11F2, ahead of Illinois Bell underground telephone line.

Archaeological excavation of 11F674 after site destruction for dump site cleanup.

Archaeological excavation begins of Oneota houses exposed by heavy equipment on Area 6, 11F2.


Archaeological excavation of Houses 8 and 9, 11F2.

Archaeological survey of Illinois River bank begins.

Corporation magnate George N. Gillette, Jr. purchases Norris Farms.


Human remains exposed by heavy equipment at 11F3132, reburied on site.


Florida businessman Maurice Wilder purchases Norris Farms.


Emiquon Refuge established with Federal funding.

USFWS begins Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge property acquisition, purchases three tracts totaling 283.71 acres from Norman White.

Archaeological survey conducted for U. S. Army Corps of Engineers of eastern levee area.

Water line trench across portion of 11F2 destroys archaeological remains.

Archaeological excavation of chemical-mixing plant site, 11F2.


USFWS purchases 28.63 acres for refuge from Charles Nott.

USFWS purchases 4.7 acres for refuge from James Dainty.


Examination of human skeletal remains exposed on talus slope below 11F17, reburied on site.

Illinois River reaches third highest level on record, requires sandbagging of south levee of Thompson District.


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) purchases its first land within refuge–the Wilder and Oxbow tracts.

USFWS purchases combined 802.6-acre Wilder and Oxbow Unit properties from TNC.


TNC trades land in northern Fulton County for 80-acre Cantebury Tract.

USFWS purchases Cantebury Tract for refuge from TNC.

Tornado destroys mobile homes near pump house.

USFWS purchases 102.5 acres for refuge from Dorothy Proehl.


TNC purchases 7,526.57 acres, represented by 154.4-acre Butt tract, 712.4-acre South Globe tract, and 6,660.17-acre main Wilder property.

TNC purchases 77.23-acre Carl/Clark tract.

USFWS purchases 2.3 acres for refuge from Randall Peters.


Farm buildings, houses, and feedlot structures removed over next few years, farm buildings completed 2005.

USFWS purchases 712.4-acre South Globe tract from TNC.

USFWS purchases 57.607 acres for refuge from Carl Jockisch.

USFWS purchases 40 acres for refuge from Mark Lindsay.

USFWS purchases 41 acres for refuge from Albert Vaughn.

USFWS provides funding for Edwin Hajic and Michael Wiant to conduct geomorphic and geoarchaeological analyses of the Wilder Tract.


Flooding again requires sandbagging of south Thompson Drainage District levee with fourth highest water on record.


The Emiquon Archaeological Project formulated by TNC and Dickson Mounds Museum to analyze cultural resources on Conservancy property.

Comprehensive Archaeological reconnaissance begins of TNC property.

Archaeological survey in advance of berm construction on South Globe for USFWS.


Ameren/CIPS utility corporation conducts 750 excavations to place gravel-filled saddlebag anchors over 5.5 miles (3.42 km) of underground natural gas pipeline.  Unprecedented geomorphological examination of bottomland sediments results.

Archaeological excavation of historic roadway/dump site in advance of University of Illinois-Springfield research station construction.

TNC provides funding for Edwin Hajic to conduct geomorphic and geoarchaeological assessments of their bottomland  property.

Documentation of standing structures at Emiquon performed by Dickson Mounds Museum to allow enrollment of TNC property into NRCS Wetland Reserve Program.


Last remaining residential houses and outbuildings burned.


Testing of 11F2177 during NRCS training program.
Norris/Wilder farm office burned by arsonist.


Pumps turned off at Emiquon, restoration of Thompson and Flag lakes begins.

Dickson Pond restored in Butt Tract, used as propagation facility for rearing endangered fish after unusually wet years significantly increases pond size and depth.

Informal multi-institutional partnership formed between University of Illinois-Springfield, USFWS, TNC, and Dickson Mounds Museum to focus on mutually beneficial aspects provided by Emiquon restoration.

USFWS provides funding for Edwin Hajic to conduct a geomorphic and geoarchaeological assessment of the Wilder and Globe tracts.        

Multi-year archaeological field school begins at Emiquon, sponsored by Michigan State University, TNC, and Dickson Mounds Museum.

University of Illinois-Springfield Emiquon Field Station opens, renamed Alfred O. and Barbara Cordwell Thirkildsen Field Station in 2009.

Archaeological excavation at 11F27 in aftermath of waterline trenching.

TNC purchases 25.6-acre Hoover property.


USFWS purchases 400 acres of North Globe from TNC, which retains 74.56 acres of the property.

Second season multi-institutional field school at Morton site.

Archaeological shovel test excavations in advance of planned roadways in area of former farm houses at west edge of Thompson Lake documents no archaeological remains.

Archaeological machine test excavations in advance of planned roadways and infrastructure locations across 11F680-11F3176 produces no evidence of archaeological remains.  New information gained about landform substructure.


Ameren utility trench cut across 11F3122 little impacts site.

Third season of multi-institutional field school at Morton site.

Construction of roadway infrastructure exposes another archaeological site 11Fxxxx.