Heights & Signal Stations

The Indians used signal fires and also established beacon fire-places, but their campfires were used as well. These could be converted into danger signals at a moments notice. J. H. De Voe in his "Sketches", quoting from J. P. McLean's "The Mound Builders" describing an ancient fortification of the mound builders near Chillicothe Ohio says: "At the five gateways are mounds or heaps which exhibit marks of intense heat. The burnt stones prove that hot fires have been kept burning for long periods of time, which most probably were beacon fires, as they were located so as to be visible in the night for many miles distant."

"Warned of the approaching armies by smoke during the day, and signal-fires at night, the Foxes foreseeing the necessity for vigorous defence had constructed upon the southern extremity of the hill, a palisaded work." (J. F. Steward, Fox Indians 1730, page 6)

The controlling of fouteen miles of the West Shore Trail by the Bowmanville Indian village is shown by the position of beacon fire-places, some of which have been found. One in Bowmanville, another at Gross Point, and the sand dune at the mouth of the river undoubtedly furnished the third. The Indian signal-fire place in Bowmanville has been known for years and ably described by Carl Dilg, was located only a few yards west of the old residence of the late Squire Dingee on the gravel knoll, the immediate spot having since been cut away for gravel.

The Gross point Indian signal-fire-place was found in 1869, by Frank Merrill on the ridge jutting into lake Michigan, in the north east quarter Section 35, town New Trier. Merrill father owned the farm. Here among the relics of a former Indian camp, while clearing the land Mr Merrill discovered what upon further investiagation proved to be an Indian fire-place built in the shape of a concave dirk four feet in diameter, paved with small waterworn boulders which upon removal were found scorched and broken from intense heat and all covered with a layer of ashes several inches in depth. This projecting bluff was a natural place for a beacon, a fire or a column of smoke here being visible for miles up and down the shore. The immediate site is between Ridge Ave and the lake shore at Linden Ave one hundred feet north of an old clustered cottonwood tree.