Alton has been telling its story in hundreds of ways over its nearly 200 year lifetime.

It was home to the world’s tallest man and the piasa, a legendary man-eating bird. It was also the site of Abraham Lincoln’s one and only duel.

Historic picture of railroad in Alton
Alton has a rich and fascinating history.


The Alton area was home to Native Americans for thousands of years before the 1818 founding of the city by European Americans. Alton was an important river town, and at one time, it was even growing faster than nearby St. Louis. Its fluctuating wealth in the early days was largely dependent on river traffic, manufacturing and shipping, and agriculture. During the Civil War, Alton was an important base for abolitionists, with Illinois as a free state across the river from the slave state of Missouri, and it served as the site of Abraham Lincoln's last debate with Stephen Douglas in October of 1858.

Alton, Today

Today, Alton is a thriving small city, with just under 30,000 inhabitants and a picturesque location on the Mississippi River, near the mouth of the Missouri River.

Interesting facts about Alton:

  • The town has had its share of ghosts, particularly at the McPike Mansion, which according to Business Insider may be the most haunted house in the entire Midwest.
  • The world's tallest man, Robert Wadlow, was born and lived in Alton.
  • In 2021, the town elected its first black mayor, David Goins.
  • The town has quite a musical legacy and was the birthplace of Miles Davis.
Haunted McPike Mansion in Alton, Illinois
The McPike Mansion, one of Alton's many spooky sites.

Things to Do in Alton

It’s not quite the city that never sleeps, but from the time the morning sun illuminates the Mississippi River until the neon lights go… Learn More

Events in Alton

At any point in the year there’s something going on worth seeing and doing in Alton, which means there’s no excuse not to be… Learn More

Where to Eat in Alton

With more than 60 restaurants in Alton alone, there’s no excuse for going hungry. Learn More

Hotels in Alton

Lofts with breathtaking views, luxurious award-winning bed and breakfast inns, full-service hotels ... Alton has the perfect pillow to lay down your weary head. Learn More