Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway Visitor's Guide













 
   
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FEATURED ATTRACTION

River Ferries
Middle Mississippi River Valley

Ferries once were common on America’s rivers. Railroads and bridges put most ferries out of business and motorized vessels replaced the earlier forms of transportation of those that survived. The Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway offers its visitors a chance to view its rivers from a unique perspective. There are four river ferries within about a half an hour’s drive of each other that cross the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. Three provide transportation to Calhoun County whose lack of industrial development and rugged hill country has allowed it to retain a unique historical charm. Ferry rates range from free to approximately $8 for a one-way trip.
 
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SPOTLIGHT ON CULTURE

Annual Elsah Photography Exhibit
Elsah, Illinois

This annual exhibit celebrates and fosters an appreciation of the beauty and unique qualities of Elsah and the immediate area in every season. This year’s theme is “Elsah: A Gem in our Midst” and the work submitted by the photographers often brings attention to overlooked aspects of the community. As in previous years, the photographers may sell their displayed photographs to the public.

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Welcome to the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway Area, where the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers meet. Here you'll find magnificent limestone bluffs, forested parks and wildlife areas, real river towns, ferries that ply the rivers, and friendly and gracious people.

The Scenic Byway begins near the towns of Hartford and Wood River. This is Lewis & Clark country with a new interpretive site at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in Hartford which features the Cutaway Keelboat and a replica of the Corps of Discovery's winter camp. Just to the south in Collinsville is Cahokia Mounds State Historical Site with an interpretative center, tours and events that help visitors explore the giant earthen mounds and fascinating culture and remains of a prehistoric Native American civilization that disappeared around 1400 A.D. Alton is the metropolitan hub of the area and is rich in history with monuments and attractions to the Civil War. Alton is a major antique center with over fifty antique shops, most which are situated in the riverfront district. Alton is also the site of the Alton Visitors Center which gives visitors a wealth of information to better explore the region.

The Sam Vadalabene Bike Trail, a twenty mile paved trail, parallels the Great River Road beneath towering limestone bluffs and past the picturesque towns of Elsah and Grafton. Elsah is one of only a handful of communities in the country to be placed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. Grafton, the "Winter Home of the Bald Eagle," is becoming an attraction of its own with its shops, restaurants, seasonal events, and river ferries. Just north of Grafton is Pere Marquette State Park with a wealth of recreational activities including hiking trails, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and interpretative programs. Farther north travelers can cross the Illinois River on a free ferry operated by the state of Illinois to the village of Kampsville, home to the Center of American Archeology, which researches the remains of Native American habitation as far back as 8,000 B.C.  

The region contains areas of interest not directly adjacent to the Scenic Byway. West of Grafton and Pere Marquette is Calhoun County. Situated on a peninsula, Calhoun County is almost an island and has retained the unique charm of a small but active agricultural community. Its rural villages and peach and apple orchards are serviced by three river ferries that cross the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. To the northeast is Jerseyville with its 19th century courthouse and the antique shops in its historic downtown district.

Whatever your interest, you’re sure to find it in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area. At greatriverroad.com our commitment is to provide visitors with the most complete and up to date information on the attractions, events, and things to do in the area.

 

 

 

  

  

FEATURED ATTRACTIONS ALONG THE GREAT RIVER ROAD
Mississippi
River Ferries
Sam Vadalabene
Bike Trail
Jacoby Arts Center
Alton, Illinois
Historic
Elsah, Illinois