Attractions in the
The Mississippi Meets the Ohio River Region
After the Mississippi River passes St. Louis it begins to change character. When the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois it is halfway on its journey to the sea. It is here that the brown muddy water of the Mississippi begins to mingle with the clearer water of the Ohio. Without the locks and dams the Mississippi begins to wind and curve so much so that the distance by water from Cape Girardeau to the Gulf of Mexico is twice the distance as a crow flies. The region where the Mississippi River meets the Ohio River is an area of transition in several respects both in terms of the flora and fauna but the culture begins to take on that of the Deep South. The Meeting the Ohio region of the Middle Mississippi River Valley offers it visitors a wide variety of options of activities to do and sites to see. Whether you’re looking for historical or cultural sites or a place to enjoy nature you’ll find it in this part of the country.
Perry County is a county that typifies rural Missouri. The history of early Missouri can be explored at such locations as the Lutheran Heritage Center, St. Mary's of the Barrens, and the Saxon Lutheran Memorial. Tower Rock Conservation Area provides a viewing platform that offers a scenic view of Tower Rock, a small landmark limestone noted by early explorers such as Marquette and Joliet and the Corps of Discovery. A day trip through Perry County in autumn will reward visitors with plenty of splashes of color amidst the rolling farmland.
Visitors to Cape Girardeau County will find an abundance of attractions of all varieties. The city of Cape Girardeau itself boasts a number of historical and cultural museums including the Crisp Museum, Cape River Heritage Museum, the Glenn House, and Lorimier's Trading Post. Bollinger Mill State Historic Site near Jackson is unusual in that it features both a workable mill and a covered bridge, side by side. The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center showcases the rich cultural history and diverse natural resources of Southeast Missouri. Trail of Tears State Park offers camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, backpacking, primitive camping and equestrian pursuits.
Culture history and nature can all be found in Scott County. The Sikeston Depot was revitalized and became the Sikeston Historical and Cultural Center containing a historic museum and an art gallery. Sikeston offers a driving tour of more than 24 magnificent homes constructed during the early 1900s. Just outside of Sikeston is the Southeast Missouri Agriculture Museum, which boasts the state´s largest collection of antique farm machinery. The General Watkins Conservation Area contains a forest type more closely resembling Appalachian than Missouri forests.
Missouri starts to take on a Deep South flavor in Mississippi County. The Moore House and a museum dedicated to former Governor Warren E. Hearnes can be found in the town of Charleston. The past can be explored by seeing what the region looked like before being drained for farmland at Big Oak Tree State Park or by visiting the site of a prehistoric Native American village at Towosahgy State Historic Site. Visitors can ride the river by crossing the Mississippi River to Kentucky on the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.
The Shawnee National Forest also dominates Jackson County and the geological landscape provides a wealth of gems for visitors to choose from. Giant City State Park with its unique Makanda sandstone features is one of Illinois’ most popular parks and offers hiking, picnicking, hunting and fishing, rock climbing and rappelling, horseback riding, camping, and lodging. Hikers and wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the Ponoma Natural Bridge and Little Grand Canyon areas. Jackson County’s three main lakes attract anglers because of their excellent fishing opportunities. History can be found at the General John A. Logan Museum in Murphysboro and the Mississippi River Museum in Grand Tower. A good view of Tower Rock, a small landmark limestone noted by early explorers such as Marquette and Joliet and the Corps of Discovery, also can be found at Grand Tower.
The Shawnee National Forest dominates Union County and provides visitors with a number of places to get in touch with nature including LaRue-Pine Hills Research Natural Area, Trail of Tears State Forest, and the Union County State Fish & Wildlife Area. The Bald Knob Cross of Peace sits atop Bald Knob Mountain, the highest point in Southern Illinois that offers wonderful scenic views, particularly in the fall. History can be explored at Lincoln Memorial Park in Jonesboro, the site on e of the 1859 Lincoln Douglas debates or at the Union County Museum in Cobden.
Alexander County is the southernmost county in Illinois and is the site of the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. The rivers played a major role in the history of Alexander County and these aspects can be explored at the Cairo Custom House Museum and Magnolia Manor. Horseshoe Lake State Fish & Wildlife Area contains a 2,400 acre shallow oxbow lake which reminds visitors of the Deep South with its abundance of bald cypress, tupelo gum, swamp cottonwood trees, and wild lotus.
Western Kentucky consists of the four rural counties of Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman, and Fulton. Visitors to this region can explore history at the Carlisle County History Museum and the Barlow House Museum. Columbus-Belmont State Park, on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, was the site of a Confederate fortification built during the Civil War. Today the park features a Civil War Museum, hiking trails, picnicking and camping opportunities. The Fort Jefferson Memorial Cross is a 95-foot memorial that stands high upon a bluff at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers that was the site of a 18th-century fort. Wickliffe Mounds is the archaeological site of a prehistoric Native American village of the Mississippian mound builders. Visitors can ride the river by crossing the Mississippi River to Missouri on the Dorena-Hickman Ferry..