Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education



First Advisor

Glover, Regina


Giant City State Park in Makanda, Illinois contains graffiti created by passersby and local residents. Many deem modern graffiti in parks as a depreciative behavior. However, the inscription created by Theodore Wilson Thompson in 1862 along the Giant City Nature Trail has implications for interpretive use by park staff. This is due to the inscription being etched prior to the park's establishment and Theodore's pioneering contributions to Makanda and Carbondale, Illinois. Therefore, Theodore Thompson was the focus of this study due to his inscription and the lack of park research conducted on his life history. In 1852, as a young boy, he moved to the Makanda vicinity with his family. Theodore and his brother Albert carved their names in sandstone during the Civil War, in an area that would later become part of Giant City State Park. After owning a large fruit farm as an adult and increasing the size of the town of Makanda, Theodore moved to Carbondale where he purchased 600 acres adjoining what would become Southern Illinois University. Thompson Woods and Thompson Lake (Campus Lake) were established by Theodore and were later added to the campus of Southern Illinois University. Through the documentation and research of other names etched throughout the park, it will be possible for park staff to not only create interpretive media to help visitors better connect with the resource, but also help preserve the history of the area before it became a park.




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