Society: 1700-1830Piggott's Ferry

Map showing historical development of the East St. Louis waterfront over 200 years. From Gateway to the Past, Illinois Department of Transportation, 1982.

James Piggott, a late eighteenth century pioneer and a territorial judge for Illinois, settled in the American Bottom region of Illinois after migrating from the Eastern United States.  Once settled in Cahokia, Piggott and his family built a log and mud road from that settlement to a point on Cahokia Creek opposite St. Louis in 1792.  During that time the area that is present day East St. Louis was swampy and uninhabited.  Goods crossing the river from the Illinois side had to travel from Cahokia, upstream to St. Louis.  Piggott's road allowed him to move goods onto Cahokia Creek, into the Mississippi, and across the river to St. Louis.  This access was more direct than shipping from Cahokia and Piggott soon had a growing business providing access to St. Louis.

Branching Out...

Before steam, coal, or diesel powered large ships, human or animal power was necessary to move goods and people across the Mississippi.  James Piggott and those that followed him used pirogues, flatboats, and keelboats for forty years before reliable steam boats plied the river.  Follow this link to learn more.

Once established Piggott refurbished the route to Cahokia Creek with a sturdy road consisting of rocks buttressed with logs through the swampy region.  Cahokia Creek, not wide or deep enough for regular use, quickly became an obstacle to Piggott.  He spanned a 150-foot wooden bridge over the creek to the river front where he built two log cabins.  Piggott's Ferry became a central point for travelers and soon the area further inland began to be developed.

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