DescriptionJust north of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Alton was founded in the early 19th century. Col. Rufus Easton obtained the land and named the town for his son. The Eagle Packet line of boats, once built in Alton, contributed to local river traffic on the Mississippi. Riverfront Park offers a vantage point for viewing the river.
The issue of slavery found volatile expression in Alton when abolitionist editor Elijah Lovejoy was killed by a proslavery mob in 1837. The Alton Cemetery on Monument Avenue contains Lovejoy's tomb and a monument in his honor. In 1858 the last Lincoln-Douglas debate took place in town. The city's history and river heritage are among themes addressed at the Alton Museum of History and Art, 2809 College Ave.; phone (618) 462-2763.
Perhaps Alton's most renowned native son was Robert Pershing Wadlow; at 8 feet, 11.1 inches he remains the world's tallest known person. A life-size statue of Wadlow can be seen on the campus of Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine across the street from the Alton Museum of History and Art. Near the intersection of Broadway and William are the remnants of Alton Prison, where more than 1,300 Confederate soldiers died of various diseases. A portion of the cellblock wall remains.
Alton's Victorian, Federal and Greek Revival 19th-century houses draw attention, particularly in autumn when the trees cloaking the surrounding bluffs are ablaze with fall foliage colors. The Great River Road, which runs north along the Mississippi River, has a bicycle path offering views of the river and bluffs.
Visitor InfoAlton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau 200 Piasa St. ALTON, IL 62002. Phone:(618)465-6676 or (800)258-6645
ShoppingAlton's historic downtown antique district, along Broadway between Langdon and Alton streets, contains more than 20 shops housed in buildings dating from the 1800s.
Self-guiding toursBrochures and information about walking and driving tours can be obtained at the convention and visitors bureau.