Visitors Guide to Attractions
in the Alton and Godfrey Area
Madison County, Illinois
   
Alton is the largest town in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area and is rich in history. Although no Civil War troops clashed in this area, battles of a different nature occurred here with the Lovejoy Monument and Lincoln Douglas Square serving as monuments to the conflict. The Alton Museum of History and Art and the Koenig House are examples of the historic architecture that can be found throughout Alton and the surrounding area. Nature lovers can find refuge at the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area or at Gordon Moore Park. There are plenty of opportunities for cyclists including the Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail, the West Alton Bike Trail, and the Confluence Bikeway. And of course there is the Piasa Bird, the adopted symbol of the region. 
   
   
The Beall Mansion
An Elegant Bed & Breakfast Inn

407 E. 12th Street
Alton
618-474-9100
  Voted “Best of Illinois—Illinois Magazine Readers Poll. Tour the mansion built as a wedding gift. Designed by world famous architect, Lucas Pfeiffenberger, explore the history, architecture, furnishings, and artwork of this historic property. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Narrated tours by appointment.
   
Meeting of the Great Rivers
Audio Tour
  The Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau has put together a self-guided audio tour of the byway for visitors to the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway region. The audio tour contains the history of the many byway communities, as well as providing information on the historic sites and other points of interest along the way. The audio tour is available in either CD or MP3 format. A companion brochure guide is also available. The CD guide and brochure is available at the Alton Visitors Center, 200 Piasa Street in downtown Alton or by mail by calling 1-800-258-6645. The MP3 format and a map can be downloaded at www.GreatRiversByway.com. iPods and adaptors are available for loan at the Alton Visitors Center.
   
Alton Little Theater
2450 Henry Street
Alton, IL
618-462-6562
  The Alton Little Theater has been entertaining audiences with quality productions continuously, since 1934. This makes Alton Little Theater one of the oldest community theaters in the state of Illinois! This live community theater with talented, hard working actors and volunteers are ready to entertain you! Each season the audience can look forward to a variety of shows filled with comedy, drama, and music. For more information visit the Alton Little Theater website.
     
Alton Museum
of History and Art

2809 College Avenue
Alton, IL
618-462-2763
  The Alton Museum of History and Art is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the rich heritage of Alton’s past through a variety exhibits. The Wadlow Room pays tribute to Alton’s Gentle Giant, Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man on record. The Pioneer Room explores history from the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the end of the Civil War. The 19th century found Alton at the center of national events with the assassination of Elijah Lovejoy, the final Lincoln-Douglas debate, and the establishment of the Underground Railroad. Through the museum’s collection of art and artifacts the visitor will feel the impact of this pivotal time in American history. The Grace Monroe Classroom is dedicated to education but is also used as an art gallery where fine art of diverse media by local and regional artists is on display. Additional exhibits include a riverboat memorabilia dedicated to the local legend of the Piasa Bird.
Armed Forces Museum
#2 Cut Street
Alton, IL
618-462-5237
 
  The Armed Forces Museum is dedicated to the preservation of items that portray military history from all eras and nations. It has an extensive collection of tracked, wheeled and armor vehicles including a DUKW, armored personnel carriers, armored cars, fire trucks, field ambulances, jeeps and jeep prototypes. The Museum also has a collection of memorabilia including uniforms, weapons, personal items and literature. Hours by appointment only.
     
The Clark Bridge
Connecting Illinois & Missouri
via Highway 367/67
 
  Often called the "Super Bridge," the Clark Bridge crosses the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois. The bridge, which has four traffic lanes and two bike lanes, spans 4,260 feet across the river. The Clark Bridge was named after William Clark who, with Meriwether Lewis in 1804, commanded the two year 4,000 mile exploration of the Louisiana Purchase territory up the Missouri River into the Pacific Northwest. The Lewis and Clark Expedition set off just a few miles south of the bridge near Hartford, Illinois.
     
Confederate Memorials
& Prison Site

Alton, IL
 
  During the Civil War, the abandoned Alton Federal Prison reopened as a military detention camp to house Confederate prisoners of war. Many of the prisoners and some of their guards died of smallpox during an epidemic in 1862. An interpretive exhibit and the remnants of the prison are near the Visitors Center in downtown Alton. Two memorials to the Confederate prisoners who died of the smallpox epidemic are located in the Alton area.
     
Elijah P. Lovejoy
Monument
Alton Cemetery
at Monument Avenue
Alton, IL
 
  Elijah Lovejoy was a champion for freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom from slavery. He was killed by an Alton pro-slavery mob defending his printing press in 1837. Plans for a Lovejoy monument began in the 1850's but work wasn’t begun in earnest until the 1890s. The memorial centers on a 93-foot high granite column topped by a 17-foot high winged statue of Victory. The monument was dedicated November 7, 1897, the sixtieth anniversary of Lovejoy's death.
Benjamin Godfrey
Memorial Chapel

5800 Godfrey Street
Godfrey, IL
618-468-3270
  The Godfrey Memorial Chapel was built in 1854. The Illinois Department of Conservation reported in 1977 that "compared to other surviving Greek Revival churches in Illinois, the building certainly stands on its own. There is nothing like it in the state. It is one of Illinois' impressive Civil War structures." The chapel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Illinois in 1979 as "one of the six most authentic copies of New England church architecture beyond the North Eastern United States."
Gordon Moore Park
Route 140
(College Avenue)
Alton, IL
 
  This 702 acre park located on the east side of Alton is the home of the Spencer T. Olin Golf Course, a native prairie grass area, a rose garden among other things.
Haskell Playhouse
1211 Henry Street
Alton, IL
 
  This unique miniature Queen Anne style playhouse designed by prominent local architect, Lucas J. Pfeiffenberger and built in 1885 has been designated a National Register Historic Landmark.
Historic Museum of Torture Devices
301 E. Broadway
Alton, IL
618-465-3200
  This unique, privately-owned collection of fascinating, historic torture devices features over 50 exhibits from nearly every corner of the globe explores the darkest chapters of human history. This is history you never learned in schoolbooks. Saturdays and Sundays: Noon - 6 pm. Admission: $5/person.
   
Jacoby Arts Center
627 E. Broadway
Alton, IL
618-462-5222
  
  This facility in downtown Alton is located in the renovated 1899 Jacoby furniture store. The Jacoby Arts Center features an art gallery on the first floor with rotating exhibits by local artists and offers classes for adults and children.
Koenig House
829 E. 4th Street
Alton, IL
618-463-1795
 
  The Alton Museum of History and Art maintains the 1887 Koenig House. The restored Victorian home’s first floor is furnished as living quarters for a typical family with a 1890s parlor, a 1910s sitting room, and a 1930s kitchen. Exhibits at the Koenig House include the Alton Landing Room, the Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial Room, and the Lovejoy Print Shop. Tours by appointment.
     
Lincoln Douglas Square
Broadway & Market
Alton, IL
 
  The seventh and last debate between Senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas was held on October 16, 1858. Over 6,000 people, including state and national figures, gathered for the event which was held in front of the City Hall. Today Lincoln Douglas Square, with life sized statues of the debaters, is a monument to this historic event.
McPike Mansion
20th & Alby Street
Alton, IL
618-462-3348
 
  The McPike Mansion was built in 1869 by architect Lucas Pfeiffenberger for Henry Guest McPike, a horticulturist known for perfecting the McPike Grape. The McPike used the house as their country home until 1936. Today the McPike Mansion is owned by Sharyn and George Luedke who have been restoring this great house back to its original state after being abandoned. Tours of the mansion are available by appointment or by attending the periodic haunted campouts.
     
Melvin Price Locks & Dam
2751 Berns Highway
East Alton, IL
877-462-6979
 
  Every year, millions of tons of commodities pass through the Melvin Price Locks and Dam. Located just south of the Clark Bridge near Alton, the Melvin Price Locks and Dam is the only facility that in the Middle Mississippi River Valley that accessible to the public. Visitors can watch river craft use the locks and free tours are conducted daily. Picnic tables and bird watching platforms are located along the entrance drive. The National Great Rivers Museum is located on the property and the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area is just across the river.
Nan Elliott
Memorial Rose Garden

South Side Rt. 140
at Gordon Moore Park
Alton, IL
618-463-3580
 
  This stunning 1 acre rose garden, a doctor's memorial to his wife, contains more than 1,800 rose bushes and is an All-America Rose Selections accredited garden.
For more on Gordon Moore Park.
     
National Great Rivers Museum
Hwy 143 at Locks & Dam Way
East Alton, IL
877-462-6979
 
  The National Great Rivers Museum is located next to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam and features state of the art interactive displays and exhibits that help visitors understand the many aspects of the Mississippi River and how it affects our lives. A large model of the bluffs provides information local flora and fauna. An aquarium displays the various species of Mississippi River fish. Exhibits display how humans have used the Mississippi as a highway and chronicle the types of vessels used from canoes to modern day barges. The Pilot House allows visitors to see what it's like to guide a 1,000-foot tow of barges. A park is along the entrance road has picnic facilities and bird watching platforms and the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area is just across the river.
The Heartland Prairie
North Side Rt. 140
at Gordon Moore Park
Alton, IL
618-467-2254
 
  27 acres of tall-grass prairie located in Gordon Moore Park. Visitors can find prairie wildflowers blooming from late March through early October.
For more on Gordon Moore Park
     
Olin Nature Preserve
S. Levis Lane
Godfrey, IL
618-467-2254
 
  Although Illinois still is known as the "Prairie State," less than 0.01% of Illinois' original 21 million acres of prairie remains. One area that is being preserved is the nearly 300-acre tract Olin Nature Preserve, one of the largest privately owned nature preserves in the state. The preserve harbors 374 native plant species and provides habitat to nearly 150 species of birds at different times of the year. Marked trails give the visitor splendid views of the Mississippi River from the hill prairie, and a view of the Mississippi flood plain.
     
Piasa Bird
1 mile north of the
Alton Visitors Center
on the Great River Road
 
  On their exploratory trip down the Mississippi River in 1673, Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet recorded seeing a Native American petroglyph (a prehistoric carving, usually pictorial, gouged into a rock surface). Legend has it that the Piasa (pronounced Pie-a-saw) was a bird-like creature of such great size that it could easily carry off humans and was killed by Ouatoga and his warriors. The modern rendition is a 48-by-22 foot painting situated on a 100-by-75 section of the Mississippi bluffs just north of Alton.
Piasa Creek Access Area
6 1/2 miles north of the
Alton Visitors Center
on the Great River Road
 
  Piasa Island Wildlife Management Area consists of two islands, Piasa and Eagles Nest, and includes the Piasa Creek Boat Access Area. This access area was completely refurbished in 1992 and offers the only free public boat access between Alton and Grafton.
     
Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary
301 Riverlands Way
West Alton, MO
636-899-2600 or
1-888-899-2602
 
  The Corps of Engineers manages this 1,200 acre wetland area that is located across Mississippi River from downtown Alton near the Clark Bridge. The Riverlands Environmental Demonstration attempts to recreate the bottomland wet prairie and marshes that existed prior to the arrival of European settlers and offers open space, walking trails, fresh air, and spectacular views. The area offers visitors the opportunity to view large numbers of resident and migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as other wildlife that live in the wetlands. The area is noted for bald eagles in the winter and the American Pelican in the spring and fall.
Sacagawea Statue
Lewis and Clark Community College Campus
US-67
Godfrey, Illinois
  The Lewis and Clark Community College is the site of a statue honoring Sacagawea, the 15-year old Shoshone Indian who joined the Corps of Discovery in the Mandan villages of what is now North Dakota. The statue was sculpted from a manganese, copper and bronze mixture by Glenna Goodacre who also crafted the design of the new Sacagawea dollar.
     
Robert P. Wadlow
World's Tallest Man
Memorial Statue

Across from Loomis Hall
2809 College Avenue
Alton, IL
 
  Alton's "Gentle Giant," Robert P. Wadlow, grew to an enormous height due to an overactive pituitary gland. At the time of his death in 1940 he was 8', 11.1" tall making him the world’s tallest person in history, according to the Guinness Book of Records. A life-size bronze statue of Wadlow was unveiled in 1985 on the grounds of SIUE’s Dental School across the street from the Alton Museum of History and Art.
    The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail
The Vadalabene Trail is approximately 20 miles of level paved trail that parallels the Great River Road and the center portion of the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway. The trail is named after Sam M. Vadalabene, an Illinois State Senator and proponent of the trail and begins in Alton, travels through the river towns of Elsah and Grafton, and ends at Pere Marquette State Park. Riders, walkers, and joggers will see prairie wildflowers along the trail as well as flowering trees during the spring. Brilliant reds, yellows and oranges compliment the scenery in the fall. For those willing to brave the elements in the winter months should be able to see Bald Eagles soaring over the river and bluffs, or floating down the river on chunks of ice.
West Alton Bike Trail
West Alton, MO
 
  Two mile long paved trail links Missouri's KATY trail with Illinois biking routes. 
Argosy Casino
Alton, IL
 
  #1 Front Street
1-800-711--4263
Alton Marina
Alton, IL
 
  1 Henry Street
618-462-9860
Antoinette's
Haunted History Tours
Alton, IL
 
  PO Box 10
618-462-4009
Bluff City Tours
Alton, IL
 
  3002 Godfrey Road
618-466-8693
J.E. Robinson Tours
Alton, IL
 
  618-462-5590
     
Nearby Attractions

Wood River Area
  Southeast of Alton, along the Great River Road, is Lewis & Clark country. These great explorers made camp in the Wood River/Hartford area in the winter of 1803-1804. There are numerous projects scheduled for completion before the expedition's Bicentennial. Before you get to Wood River and Hartford is the town of East Alton, home of the Melvin Price Locks and Dam and the National Great Rivers Museum. Visitors will also find several local history museums telling the tales of their communities.

Elsah and Grafton
  Northwest of Alton, the Scenic Byway travels to the river towns of Elsah and Grafton. The entire town of Elsah has been designated a historic district and is home to a number of Bed and Breakfasts. Grafton is situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and is known as "The Winter Home of The Bald Eagle" due to the number of good eagle watching sites in its proximity. Just west of Grafton is Pere Marquette State Park.
     
For Travelers Heading Across the River
  Meeting the Missouri River
The two longest rivers of the United States, the Missouri and the Mississippi, meet at St. Charles County, Missouri. The Historic St. Charles downtown area offers visitors a variety of attractions including the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center, The Foundry Art Centre, and Missouri’s First State Capitol. Nearby is Confluence State Park and the Daniel Boone Home.
  St. Louis Area
Metropolitan St. Louis has a lot to offer its visitors. The area's most prominent attraction is the Gateway Arch, which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial complex that also includes the Museum of Westward Expansion. St. Louis has a number of outstanding public institutions that are free to visit including the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, and the Science Center. The St. Louis region has a number of green spaces for nature and outdoor enthusiasts. Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Faust County Park, in St. Louis County, is home to many historical and cultural attractions including the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, a historical village, and the St. Louis Carousel. The county is also home to Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, the Powder Valley Conservation Area..
   
FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Fort de Chartres
State Historic Site
U.S. Grant
National Historic Site
Victorian Festival
Labor Day Weekend
Foundry Art Centre
St. Charles, MO
     







 
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   Meeting the Missouri
Historic St. Charles County
The Lincoln Hills Region
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