The Mississippi is the river that made America. It was a corridor of culture, civilization and commerce for more than a thousand years. The Mississippi looms large in the American imagination and even larger in the factual history of our nation. The longest stretch of the river borders the state of Illinois and it is impossible to understand the development of Illinois without reference to the river. Just as “all roads lead to Rome”, so too did the Mississippi River directly and by extension inland play a preeminent role in Illinois.

The Mythic Mississippi is intended to be a major public outreach and engagement project of UIUC and UIS that will positively impact downstate Illinois communities through deployment of their cultural heritage resources for economic and social development by means of creating multiple regional-level heritage tourism trails that will link local towns. Our fundamental premise is encompassed by the slogan: I-HERITAGE: Investigate, Interpret, and Invest in Illinois.

Researchers will work collaboratively with governmental, business,  educational and community partners in the towns. In addition to material on this website, high school-level teaching materials will be produced and various traveling exhibitions and digital exhibitions about the project will be created in collaboration with local partners. The project will culminate with a national symposium that discusses the use of cultural heritage for community development and the creation of a Scalar web platform that curates the main data of the project.

This project is led by CHAMP/Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at UIUC in partnership with the Public History Program at UIS and in collaboration with the local communities. The pages on this website present the many components of this project as it evolves.


: All images on this website were either taken by the project personnel or are in the public domain. The phrase “Mythic Mississippi” is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ©© by this project (“The Mythic Mississippi Project”) and copyrighted ©. Any use of the “Mythic Mississippi” phrase must attribute it to the Project.