Dixon Springs Park Brochure
The area around the park 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. Dixon Springs 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.
Dixon Springs become a 19th century health spa which attracted hundreds of people to its seven springs of mineral-enriched water. A bathhouse provided mineral or soft water baths, hot or cold, available at any time. The natural beauty of the area and its interesting stone formations helped to give the park valley a more equable temperature in the summer than most of southern Illinois. This made the resort so popular that people come by steamboat excursions from as far away as Paducah, KY, Evansville, IN, and Cairo to Golconda. They then traveled by train to within a couple of miles of the park.
The entire county is hilly and during rainy weather, rivulets cascade down the hills in the park, forming waterfalls of varying size and height. 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. Equally intriguing are the names give numerous points of interest, including Album Rock, Wolf Pen, Lover’s Leap, Ghost Dance, Pluto’s Cave, Alligator Rock, the 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 the Jack-in-the-pulpit, violet, lady’s slipper, May apple and sweet William lend even more natural beauty. An open forest a short distance north of the park was used by General John A. Logan as a meeting place when he organized a company of soldiers to serve in the Union army.