Commemorate the heritage and black history of the Alton region with a tour along the "Alton Route" of the Underground Railroad.
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 U.S. with the help of conductors and safe houses along the famed Underground Railroad. Remnants of this period in history still exist throughout the region. There are more than nine Underground Railroad sites located throughout the area.
The Great Rivers & Routes Tourism Bureau offers guided shuttle tours of select Underground Railroad sites throughout the year.
Click here to see full shuttle tour schedule & to make reservations.
Underground Railroad Sites
The Alton Museum of History and Art, located on College Avenue in Alton, also pays tribute to the past African-American church, school and community leaders who lived and did remarkable things all around Alton, Illinois. Actual photos of the Railroad's basement hideaways are preserved in glass cases.
The Old Rock House was the site of the Anti-Slavery Society and a station on the railroad. At the Enos Apartments underground tunnels exist 15 feet below 3rd Street and resemble Roman catacombs. The building played a crucial role during the Civil War as an Underground Railroad stop. The basement contains a sealed tunnel that reportedly was the passageway to hidden rooms where slaves rested during the day before traveling at night to the next safe house.
MORE: LEARN ABOUT ALTON'S TIES TO THE CIVIL WAR & LINCOLN
Rocky Fork Church, which is located in Godfrey, originated before the Civil War when free people and slaves crossed the Mississippi River to begin life in Illinois, which was a free state. According to the National Park Service, as early as 1816, Rocky Fork Church was one of the first Free State stops for slaves escaping Missouri. In the 1830s, a more organized Underground Railroad route was established through the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This area continued to serve as both a way stop and escapee community after the Missouri Emancipation Proclamation of 1865.
Click here to request a FREE visitor guide and our Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail brochure!
For information on other guided tours of the Underground Railroad sites, please contact the Alton Visitor's Center at (800) 258-6645. We will provide you with names of experienced tour guides. Advanced reservations must be made for all tours.
MORE: LIST OF TOUR GUIDES & OPPORTUNITIES
UNDERGROUND RAILROAD SITES
Old Rock House
Site of the Anti-Slavery Society and a station on the railroad.
College Avenue Presbyterian Church
Abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy served as its first minister.
Alton Museum of History & Art
Black Pioneer Room with Underground Railroad artifacts.
Elijah P. Lovejoy Monument
Dedicated to martyred publisher and the tallest monument in the state of Illinois.
Lyman Trumbull House
The U.S. Senator who wrote the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in America.
Underground tunnels exist 15 feet below Third Street and resemble Roman catacombs.
Rocky Fork Church
Church originated before the Civil War, when free people and slaves crossed the Mississippi river to begin life in the free state of Illinois
Hamilton Primary School
One of the earliest integrated schools in the state, it was funded through the legacy of Dr. Silas Hamilton. Free slave George Washington built a memorial in Hamilton's honor and left a sizable estate for the education of black youth.
Josiah White's Log Cabin
The remains of this once-spacious two-story cabin sheltered runaway slaves on their journey northward.
Lewis & Clark Community College
Site of the former Monticello Women's Seminary.