Cahokia Mounds

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The remains of the most sophisticated native civilization north of Pre-Columbian Mexico are just outside of St. Louis, in Collinsville, Illinois. (Give that a minute to sink in.) The 2,200-acre tract was inhabited by the Illiniwek from roughly A.D. 700 to 1400 and in its heyday had a population somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000. Cahokia Mounds was deemed a World Heritage Site in 1982—one of only 22 in the country—and you can spend an afternoon learning about the people that built the elaborately-planned community on any of the guided tours. As an added bonus, the story of Cahokia isn’t a terribly depressing one: Experts believe the tribe slowly left the area due to lack of natural resources coupled with a growing population. Entrance is free of charge, although a donation of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for children, and $15 for families is suggested. cahokiamounds.org

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