Showing 1-24 of 70 items found in History
National Great Rivers Museum
Located adjacent to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Mississippi River, from its colorful history to its modern-day role as a major transportation corridor. The museum features kid-friendly, interactive and computer animated exhibits. Steer a towboat through the locks and dam via simulator, measure your water consumption or come face-to-face with river fish in the aquarium.
Confederate Prison Site
Built in 1833, Alton houses Illinois' first state penitentiary. During the Civil War, the facility imprisoned thousands of Confederate soldiers. Partial remains of the structure can still be observed today.
Confederate Cemetery and Memorial
This monument remembers those who died in the infamous Alton prison. A smallpox virus spread rapidly through the Alton Prison in 1863, killing more than 1,435 incarcerated soldiers. The soldiers are laid to rest here and each of their names is commemorated at the Memorial. The Alton Prison and Confederate Cemetery are some of the rare northernmost monuments to the Confederate Soldier.
The final debate of Stephan A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln took place in front of Alton's city hall at the corner of Broadway and Market Streets. The senatorial debate drew national attention along with more that 6,000 visitors. Life-like statues of the two statesmen keep the famous series of debates in 1858 frozen forever in time.
This monument memorializes Elijah P. Lovejoy, whose work and death in Alton gave him a place in history for the abolition of slavery. During the slavery era, Elijah Lovejoy was a pastor who wrote anti-slavery editorials so controversial he became an object of hatred by slaveholders. Despite threats to his life, he continued his anti-slavery writings in the Alton Observer, even after three of his printing presses were thrown into the Mississippi River. It was this persistence that led an angry pro-slavery mob to attack and kill him in 1837.
Robert Wadlow Statue
In 1918, Alton became the famous birthplace of Robert Wadlow, "The Gentle Giant." Born a normal eight pounds in 1918, Wadlow suffered from a pituitary gland problem. He was almost nine feet tall and 500 pounds when he died of complications from a foot infection at age 22. He is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest man alive. A life-sized statue on College Avenue lifts visitors' heads in amazement. The Alton Museum of History and Art have devoted an entire room to Wadlow, including his third-grade desk and oversized grade school ring.
Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail
Walk in the footsteps of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Civil War soldiers from both North and South. 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 of 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. Experience the 11 historic sites interpreted along the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail.
Alton Museum of History and Art
Winged monsters, explorers, riverboats and a gentle giant. The Alton Museum of History & Art shows the crossroads of American history in Alton. The museum is located in the historic Loomis Hall across from the Wadlow statue. Loomis Hall is the oldest building in the state of Illinois continuously utilized for education. One of the most popular rooms, the Wadlow Room, pays tribute to Alton's "Gentle Giant" and the World's Tallest Man. The Pioneer Room explores the history of Alton from the Lewis & Clark Expedition to the Civil War with exhibits on Elijah Lovejoy, the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and the "Alton Route" on the Underground Railroad. Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sunday 1 - 4 p.m.
Alton Hauntings Tours
Based on the book Haunted Alton by Troy Taylor, Alton Hauntings Tours offers an entertaining and spine-tingling trip into the unknown, taking visitors to the most authentic haunted places in Alton. Uncover the eerie folklore, ghostly tales and documented haunted spots on a three-hour walking tour of the city’s most haunted sites. Visitors will see sites that have become nationally known, like the old Alton penitentiary, First Unitarian Church, Enos Sanitarium and many others. The tours have been proven to be popular with ghost enthusiasts and history buffs alike, and nowhere else can you learn as much about the real, haunted history of Alton. Walking tours and bus tours are offered during two touring seasons – Spring & Summer and the Haunted Fall Season. Private tours are also available for groups of 20 or more. Reservations must be made in advance for all tours.
Mineral Springs Haunted Tours
Take an eight-block tour of some of the haunted locations in downtown Alton, investigate the four floors of the Mineral Springs Hotel, be part of a seance and top the evening off with a tarot card reading. All tours begin and end at the Mineral Springs Mall. Tour options include New Moon Haunted Tours, Waking the Dead Walking Tours, Cemetery Tours and Haunted Overnights.
J.E. Robinson Underground Railroad Tours
In the early 1800s, Alton became a safe haven for slaves escaping from the bonds of slavery. Because of the area's neighboring slave state of Missouri, runaways found refuge in the free land surrounding Alton. The tunnels of the Underground Railroad run deep beneath the streets along the "Alton Route." The area was a major stop along the Underground Railroad, hiding slaves in caves, barns and basements throughout Alton, Otterville and Jerseyville. Hear the slave's tales, feel their fear and learn about Alton's remarkable past on an Underground Railroad Tour. Tours available by appointment only.
Beall Mansion Historic Tours
Tour the mansion built as a wedding present by railroad baron and riverboat magnate Z.B. Job for his son and bride Mary Drummond, heiress to the Drummond tobacco fortune. Today this three-story mansion serves as a bed and breakfast.
This Queen Anne-style playhouse was built for Lucy J. Haskell, daughter of Dr. William A. & Florence H. Haskell. The playhouse was an exact replica of the family home. Lucy died at age nine of diphtheria and the Haskell's gave the estate to the City of Alton for educational & recreational purposes. The playhouse is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be visited in Haskell Park.
Hayner Genealogy & Local History Library
The Hayner Public Library District provides a variety of genealogy-related services to support research efforts. Information from various states in addition to Illinois and other countries is available. The digitized newspaper collection is a wonderful resource of The Hayner Public Library District for genealogy research. The collection includes the Alton Telegraph Archives dating as far back as 1836 and access NEWSPAPER ARCHIVE to locate newspaper articles in other parts of the country.
When just about any native of the Alton area thinks of a haunted house, normally one name comes to mind - the infamous McPike Mansion. Thousands of visitors and paranormal investigators have visited the grounds of the notorious McPike Mansion claiming spirits still roam this property. Some claim the haunts date back to the property before the mansion was even built, with native American ghosts and a residue from a possible Underground Railroad stop. Other mysterious stories include servants of the building, a cook in the kitchen and a strange death of a woman in the bathtub. Some even believe that Eleanor and Henry McPike still roam the corridors of their former home. All total, more than 11 different spirits have been experienced in recent years.
Historic Museum of Torture Devices
Displays of torture devices from around the world, pictures and written explanations are part of this self-guided tour. Hours: Saturday & Sunday, Noon to 6 p.m.
Mineral Springs Paranormal Research Center
Share evidence and peruse scientific research on the paranormal at one of the most haunted buildings in Alton -- the former Mineral Springs Hotel -- now the home of the Mineral Springs Paranormal Research Center. Overnight paranormal events are held at the site, in addition to meetings with other paranormal experts, investigators and researchers. Ghost hunting equipment is used in every investigation and there are over 140 EVPs obtained over the years at the hotel and at other investigation sites.
Emma Kunz House
Visitors are invited to walk through this home, considered to be the oldest Greek Revival-style home in Illinois.
Labor & Industry Museum
The Labor & Industry Museum is the only public institution devoted to the history of the labor and industry of Belleville and southwestern Illinois. The centerpiece is Jumbo, a 19th-century steam engine along with coal mining, carpentry, and stove-making exhibits.
St. Clair County Historical Society Museum
This Victorian adaptation of a Greek Revival home was built in the early 1800s. In addition to period furniture and vintage clothing, artifacts, and quilts, the museum contains an extensive research library and gift shop.
National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
The Shrine has 200 beautifully landscaped acres of gardens and devotional areas, including the Outdoor Amphitheatre, Shrine Church, Lourdes Grotto, Stations of the Cross, Millennium Spire, the Visitors Center with a restaurant and gift shop, and the Shrine Hotel.
The Holy Dormition of the Theotokos Catholicon of the Patriarchal Russian Orthodox Catholic Church
Established in 1907 by a group of Russian immigrants who lived and labored in Beneld, the group built homes and raised their families while adding their customs to the area's ever-mixing cultures.
Hot Metal Heaven Museum
This museum features a collection of letterpress printing memorabilia.
Bethalto History Museum
A log cabin originally built in 1873 is this city's history museum. The cabin is authentically furnished as it might have appeared 150 years ago. The building once housed Bethalto's water, fire and police departments. The tiny one room jail can still be seen. Open M - F 1 - 4 p.m. for tours. Call for tour appointment.