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Following the Lewis and Clark Route

The byway journey begins in Hartford at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, where Lewis and Clark’s journey west began. It was in Illinois that Lewis and Clark prepared for the journey as common men became soldiers organized for a military expedition.

Continuing the journey along the Great River Road, you will encounter the mighty Mississippi River and see it from a new point of view from eight stories in the air on top of the Melvin Price Locks and Dam No. 26. At the base of the locks and dam, visitors can connect to the river at the National Great Rivers Museum. This museum is dedicated to telling the story of life on the Mighty Mississippi River and how it has shaped the culture, history, economy, ecology and people of the region.

On the banks of the Mississippi River, Alton is one of America’s great river cities. The threads of the nation’s history run deep beneath the streets and on the banks of this quiet little river town. Alton’s new Lincoln and Civil War Legacy Trail takes you on a walk with Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Civil War soldiers from both North and South, to 10 significant historic sites throughout the city.

Stop to Explore Elsah and Grafton

Along the byway, visitors to the area are greeted by two quaint little towns, Elsah and Grafton. The entire village of Elsah is on the National Registry of Historic Places. With a population of around 100 people, the village is often referred to as the town where time stood still. Visitors to Elsah can escape back to the Americana of the early 1800s with quiet streets and 19th century stone homes. This “picture perfect” village nestled in the valley is a perfect place for photographers – amateur and professional – anxious to capture a glimpse of the past.

Just beyond the river bend, the residents of Grafton readily embrace visitors, inviting them to celebrate life on the Mississippi River. Grafton, resting under the Mississippi River bluffs, is home to several wineries, flea markets, antique shops, restaurants and views like no other along the river.

Perfect Place for Outdoor Adventures

The winding river road is the perfect backdrop for recreational activities all along the byway. Whether biking, hiking, fishing, boating, or taking in a round of golf, you’ll never run out of things to do and places to see. At the northern end of the byway, Pere Marquette State Park is the largest state park in Illinois, with more than 3,230 hectares to explore. Hiking trails, fishing docks, horseback riding or the perfect spot for a picnic can be found within the borders of the park.

Fun Fact

A Miles Davis statue
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Jazz legend Miles Davis was born in Alton and a bronze statue honors his local ties.

A haunted patch of Alton
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Alton is often called the “Most Haunted Small Town in America."

The world’s tallest man
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Robert Pershing Wadlow, the world’s tallest man at 2.71 meters, was born in Alton.

Hot Air Balloon over Asheville, North Carolina
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