Pere Marquette Cross
Route 100, Grafton, IL 62037
On June 10, 1673, French explorer Louis Joliet and Jesuit priest Father Jacques Marquette led the first French expedition down the Mississippi River in search of the Pacific Ocean. The expedition followed the Mississippi River to the mouth of the Arkansas River, at which point the Native Americans there informed them that they were only about ten days away from the Gulf of Mexico, not the Pacific Ocean. Fearing that they may be captured by the Native Americans or Spanish, they chose to turn around and begin their journey home.
Even though they never reached the Gulf, the expedition was still considered to be a success. Marquette and Joliet established relations with the Native American tribes that they met along the way, and their discoveries eventually led to the French possession of Louisiana. A large stone cross stands just east of the entrance to Pere Marquette State Park designates the spot of their historic landing.