Kaskaskia, Illinois: Liberty Bell of the West

Older than Philadelphia's Liberty Bell, and just as cracked. No touching, but there's an audio loop that tells its story. Sign on front lawn; plaque next to the front door.

Kaskaskia Bell Memorial

Address:
1st St., Kaskaskia, IL
Directions:
Kaskaskia Bell State Historic Site. On Kaskaskia Island, take Hwy 61 to St. Mary, Missouri, south of Sainte Genevieve, to County Road U (near the grain elevator) and follow the signs to Kaskaskia State Historic Site. Push button at memorial door to get in to see the bell.
Hours:
Summer daily 9-4; off-season Su only. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
618-859-3031
Admission:
free.
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Liberty Bell of the West.

Liberty Bell of the West

This big bell is actually older than Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. It was rung to celebrate the liberation of Kaskaskia from the British in 1778, back when Kaskaskia was America's western frontier.

Illinois hung the bell in a special building in 1948. That's when its crack first appeared. A flood in 1973 knocked the bell over, widening the crack. But visitors could still tap on the bell, and Illinois continued to ring it every July 4th. Then a SECOND flood knocked the bell over in 1993, and made the crack even bigger. Now it's a hands-off bell -- like the other cracked Liberty Bell -- and visitors have to view it through a barred doorway. A brief audio program has recently been added, giving visitors a history of the bell.

[Kim Clark, 08/01/2010]

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