The rich history of Alton includes debates, duels, murders, railroads and riverboats. Alton's location near the three great western rivers thrust the city into the forefront of the great issues of the early nineteenth century - slavery, commerce, western expansion and war. Alton's unique history continues to draw people today to experience the unique heritage of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.
At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War rang out. From the battlefields of the North and South to the riverbanks of small towns like Alton, Illinois, those first shots rippled across the nation. As our country commemorates the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we invite you to join us and experience Alton's story as you explore the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail.
About the Trail
Lincoln's first visits to Alton can be traced back to the early 1840s. Experience the life of young Lincoln as a lawyer, duelist and orator. It was here that the final Lincoln-Douglas Debate took place, with the issue of slavery on the minds spectators. It was here that Confederate soldiers were held captive, died and were buried. It was here that Alton resident and U.S. Senator Lyman Trumbull authored the 13th Amendment, putting an end to slavery in the United States.
The Lyman Trumbull House is a National Historic Landmark.
Walk in the footsteps of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Civil War soldiers from both North and South, as you explore the lasting legacies of Lincoln in Alton.
Exploring the Trail
The new trail connects ten historic sites in Alton relating to Lincoln's time spent here and the city's connections to the Civil War. The journey begins with Lincoln & Douglas in Lincoln-Douglas Square. Subsequent sites include: Ryder Building, Smallpox Island and Lincoln-Shields Duel sites, Lovejoy Monument, National Cemetery, Lyman Trumbull House, Confederate Cemetery, Alton Prison and Franklin House. At each of the sites, visitors will find interpretive panels that further tell the story of each site and Alton's connections to American history.
The Elijah Lovejoy Monument is the tallest man-made monument in Illinois.
Visitors can pick up the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail guide at the Alton Visitor's Center, located at 200 Piasa Street (across from Argosy Casino) in Downtown Alton. While some of the sites are within walking distance of each other, most will require some mode of transportation. The trail is self-guided, and visitors can explore the sites in any order they wish.
National Park Service Passport Program
Be sure to grab your National Park Service Passports to receive a stamp from these two sites in Alton:
Alton Visitor Center
200 Piasa Street
Hayner Genealogy & Local History Library
401 State Street
Track 1 - Lincoln-Douglas Debate
Track 2 - Simeon Ryder
Track 3 - Small Pox Island & Lincoln-Shields Duel
Track 4 - Elijah Parrish Lovejoy
Track 5 - National Cemetery
Track 6 - Lyman Trumbull
Track 7 - Confederate Cemetery
Track 8 - Alton Prison
Track 9 - The Franklin House
Track 10 - (BONUS) Alton's Reaction to Lincoln's Death
Track 11 - Looking for Lincoln
We hope that you will join us in Alton to continue to explore the lasting legacy of Lincoln in this river community. For more information, please call the Alton Visitors Center at 1-800-ALTON-IL. To explore more of the Lincoln Heritage Sites in Illinois, go to www.lookingforlincoln.com.