Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers,
and stretching out for approximately two miles along the Illinois
River, is the picturesque town of Grafton set that is against the
river bluffs. Highway 100, the Great River Road, becomes Main Street
as it enters Grafton and runs the length of the town just blocks off
the river. Main Street is lined with restaurants, antique and craft
shops, wine shops, and other attractions. Just five miles upriver is
Pere Marquette State Park, Illinois’ most popular park destination.
If you plan an extended stay, you can find lodging at a variety of
the area's Bed and Breakfast and Guest Houses.
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FOCUS ON HISTORY
Hamilton Primary School
In 1830, Dr. Silas Hamilton settled in Otterville with three of his former
slaves. When Dr. Hamilton died in 1834, he left provisions in his will for
the building and funding of a private school. This school became the first
free integrated school in the United States. The school was originally built
in 1835, and the present building was erected in 1873. After Dr. Hamilton's
death, one these slaves, George Washington, became a successful farmer
imbued with a strong sense of community spirit. When he died in 1864, he
left a sizable estate with provisions for a monument to Dr. Hamilton and a
trust fund for the education of "colored persons, or Americans of African
descent." The trust fund is still in existence today. Dr. Hamilton, George
Washington and Gilbert Douglas are buried in a crypt at the corner of Main
and Hamilton. This is the only instance in the United States where a master
and a slave are buried side by side.
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to the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway Area, where
the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois Rivers meet. Here you'll find
limestone bluffs, forested parks and wildlife areas, real river towns,
ferries that ply the rivers, and friendly and gracious people.
The Scenic Byway begins near the towns of Hartford and Wood River. This is
Lewis & Clark country
with a new interpretive site at the Lewis and Clark State Historic Site in
Hartford which features the Cutaway Keelboat and a replica of the Corps of
Discovery's winter camp. Just to the south in Collinsville is Cahokia Mounds
State Historical Site with an interpretative center, tours and events that
help visitors explore the giant earthen mounds and fascinating culture and
remains of a prehistoric Native American civilization that disappeared
around 1400 A.D. Alton is the metropolitan hub of the area and is rich in
history with monuments and attractions to the Civil War. Alton is a major
antique center with over fifty antique shops, most which are situated in the
riverfront district. Alton is also the site of the Alton Visitors Center
which gives visitors a wealth of information to better explore the region.
The Sam Vadalabene Bike
Trail, a twenty mile paved trail, parallels the Great River Road beneath towering limestone
bluffs and past the picturesque
towns of Elsah and Grafton. Elsah is one of only a handful of
communities in the country to be
placed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places.
Grafton, the "Winter Home of the
Bald Eagle," is becoming an attraction of its own with its
shops, restaurants, seasonal events, and river
ferries. Just north of Grafton is Pere
Marquette State Park with a wealth of recreational activities
including hiking trails, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and
interpretative programs. Farther
north travelers can cross the Illinois River on a free
ferry operated by the state of Illinois to the village of Kampsville, home
to the Center of American Archeology, which researches the remains of
Native American habitation as far back as 8,000 B.C.
region contains areas
of interest not directly adjacent to the Scenic Byway. West of Grafton and
Pere Marquette is Calhoun County. Situated on a peninsula, Calhoun County
is almost an island and has retained the unique charm of a small but
active agricultural community. Its rural villages and peach and apple
orchards are serviced by three river ferries that cross the Mississippi and
Illinois rivers. To the northeast is Jerseyville with its 19th century courthouse
and the antique shops in its historic downtown district.
Whatever your interest, you’re
sure to find it in the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway area. At greatriverroad.com
our commitment is to provide visitors with the most complete and up to date information on
the attractions, events, and things to do in the area.