In September, the Shawnee National Forest turns 80 years old and to celebrate the creation of Illinois' only national forest talks, walks and other programs are planned throughout the year.

For starters, Southern Illinois University (SIU) Archaeology Field School returns for a third summer of archaeological field investigation of the historical settlement called Miller Grove.

SIU Field School began excavation of the Wilbert McClure home site within Miller Grove on June 3.

The Miller Grove settlement is significant because it was originally established in the 1840s by freed families of color who arrived in southern Illinois from western Tennessee.

Little is known about these historical communities that once existed and are now, only evident through archaeological investigation.

To engage more public in uncovering the history beneath our feet, staff from the Shawnee National Forest and SIU will host a special archaeological program called Passport in Time (PIT).

The general public is invited to Miller Grove for an open house on Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at the excavation site.

"We're excited about hosting an open house at Miller Grove," says Mary McCorvie, archaeologist with the Shawnee National Forest, adding, "It's an opportunity for the public to visit an active archaeological site, learn about the artifacts that have been uncovered and visit with archaeologists."

The Miller Grove historical site is located off of Cedar Grove Road near Simpson.

For more details and driving directions to the site visit or the Forest's Facebook page at or call 800-My-Woods.

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