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Where to Find Arrowheads in Illinois

Where to Find Arrowheads in Illinois: A Guide for Enthusiasts

Arrowhead hunting has been a popular pastime for many years, allowing enthusiasts to connect with the rich history of indigenous peoples who once inhabited the land. Illinois, with its diverse geography and archaeological significance, offers ample opportunities for arrowhead hunting. In this article, we will explore where to find arrowheads in Illinois, along with some frequently asked questions to help you get started on your own archaeological adventure.

1. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site:
Located in Collinsville, Illinois, the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers visitors a chance to explore the remnants of the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico. With over 70 mounds and a fascinating visitor center, this site is a treasure trove for arrowhead hunters. The best time to visit is after heavy rains, as the artifacts tend to surface due to erosion.

2. Mississippi Riverbanks:
The Mississippi River and its surrounding banks have witnessed centuries of human settlement, making them prime locations for finding arrowheads. Areas near the river, such as Grafton and Alton, are popular among collectors due to their historical significance. Be sure to obtain the necessary permits and follow all regulations when searching for artifacts in these areas.

3. Starved Rock State Park:
Nestled along the Illinois River in Utica, Starved Rock State Park is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also for its archaeological significance. This region was once home to Native American tribes who left behind a wealth of artifacts, including arrowheads. Explore the trails, riverbanks, and creek beds in the park for a chance to discover these hidden treasures.

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4. Shawnee National Forest:
Stretching across southern Illinois, the Shawnee National Forest offers a diverse landscape that is rich in archaeological sites. The forest’s rugged terrain, coupled with its proximity to the Ohio River, makes it an ideal area for arrowhead hunting. Areas such as the Garden of the Gods and the Rim Rock Recreational Area are known to yield a high number of artifacts.

5. Plowed Fields:
One of the most accessible and fruitful places to search for arrowheads in Illinois is in plowed fields. The act of plowing turns over the soil, bringing buried artifacts closer to the surface. However, always seek permission from landowners before entering private property and be respectful of cultivated fields.


Q: Are there any legal restrictions on arrowhead hunting in Illinois?
A: Yes, there are regulations that govern the collection of artifacts on public and private land. It is essential to obtain permission from landowners, follow state laws, and adhere to ethical guidelines when engaging in arrowhead hunting. Contact local authorities or archaeological societies for specific information.

Q: What should I bring with me when searching for arrowheads?
A: Some essential items to bring include a small shovel or trowel, a bucket or bag to collect artifacts, gloves, sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water. It is also advisable to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, as you may be walking through rough terrain.

Q: How can I identify an arrowhead?
A: Arrowheads come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, depending on the time period and culture they belong to. Researching different types of arrowheads and attending workshops or local archaeological society meetings can help you develop your identification skills. It is crucial to handle artifacts carefully and avoid cleaning them excessively, as this can damage their integrity.

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Q: Can I keep the arrowheads I find?
A: The ownership and preservation of artifacts found on public and private land can vary. It is best to consult with local authorities, landowners, or archaeological societies to understand the guidelines surrounding the collection and possession of arrowheads.

In conclusion, arrowhead hunting in Illinois offers a unique opportunity to connect with the ancient history of the region’s indigenous peoples. From the Cahokia Mounds to the Mississippi Riverbanks and the Shawnee National Forest, there are numerous locations to explore. Remember to always obtain permission, follow regulations, and respect the historical and cultural significance of these artifacts. Happy hunting!

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