The fort was named in honor of the Marquis de Massiac, a French naval minister. The end of the French and Indian War in 1763 marked the fort passing into British hands.
In 1778 as a prelude to his march on Kaskaskia, George Rogers Clark and his men landed at the mouth of Massac Creek and advanced to the fort which they found abandoned. Under orders from President Washington, the fort was rebuilt in 1794 and garrisoned to guard American interests on the lower Ohio River. A customs port was opened as was a post office. Zebulon Pike, for whom Pike's Peak is named, served here as a Lieutenant.
After the War of 1812 the post was no longer needed and it was again abandoned.
In 1908, in recognition of its historical importance, the site was dedicated as Illinois' first state park. Archaeological excavations in the 1930's, 1960's and 1970's provided information which ultimately resulted in a reconstructed fort from the American period. Dedicated in 1973, the reconstructed fort was not placed on the original location to the west in order to preserve the site's integrity.