Four Tours to take this Presidents Day

To some, President’s Day just means a longer weekend, but to all, this holiday is a day to celebrate our nation’s founders. Enjoy your President’s Day in the Meeting of the Great Rivers with the rich history of Alton and these activities for the whole family.

Courtesy, Library of Congress

1. Lincoln Trail

Walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln through the path of the past from his first visit in Alton to his last. The Lincoln Trail demonstrates the city’s links to the Civil War by connecting ten historic sites relating to Lincoln’s time here. Sites include:

•Lincoln-Douglas Square

Ryder Building & Lincoln-Shields Duel Sites

Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument

National Cemetery

Lyman Trumbull House

Confederate Cemetery

Alton Prison

•Franklin House

Visitors can download the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail guide or pick it up at the Alton Visitor Center, 200 Piasa St, Alton for more information. This trail is self-guided and most sites will require transportation.

Visit the replica of Camp River Dubois behind the museum and see how Lewis and Clark lived in the winter of 1804. Re-enactors and site interpreters are on hand at the fortified encampment to explain what life was like for the explorers as they prepared for their journey.

2. Underground Railroad Tour

Located in the free state of Illinois, Alton's riverfront location along the Mighty Mississippi played a vital role in helping slaves make connections to the freedom of the northern United States. Remnants of this period in history still exist throughout the Meeting of the Great Rivers with more than nine Underground Railroad sites, including:

•Old Rock House

College Ave. Presbyterian Church

Alton Museum of History & Art

Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument

•Lyman Trumbell House

•Enos Apartments

Rocky Fork Church

Hamilton Memorial School

•Josiah White’s Log Cabin

Lewis & Clark Community College

Commemorate the heritage and black history of the Alton region with a tour along the “Alton Route” of the Underground Railroad. The Alton Regional CVB offers guided shuttle tours of select Underground Railroad sites throughout the year.

3. Thomas Jefferson and the Lewis & Clark Expedition in 1804

Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark on a journey across North America in order to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean and to establish trade with western Native American people. Lewis and Clark’s journey west began right here in Hartford at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

In commemoration of the historic expedition, the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower stands 180-feet tall and allows visitors to view the confluence from 50, 100 or 150 feet platforms. Stories about the region’s history are told on each platform, including the Village of Hartford, the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, Lewis and Clark and the confluence of the two great rivers – the Mississippi and Missouri. The Tower is the gateway to the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway, with a visitor center located in the northern tower. At the visitor center, guests can plan their trip along the 33-mile route with interactive exhibits, videos and graphic panels that tell stories of history, wildlife and communities all along the byway.

Visitors can experience the Illinois side of the story at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, #1 Lewis & Clark Trail, Hartford, IL which features five exhibit rooms and a full-scale cut-away keelboat demonstrating how they packed for the journey.

4. The Alton Museum of History & Art

Located at 2809 College Ave., Alton, the museum explores the history of Alton from winged monsters to gentle giants. Observe exhibits from the Civil War in the Pioneer Room with displays on Elijah Lovejoy, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and the Underground Railroad. The Museum also pays tribute to the World’s Tallest Man, Robert Wadlow in one of the most popular rooms, the Wadlow Room.

For more information, call the Alton Museum of History & Art at (618) 462-2763.