For a plethora of Civil War and Lincoln-related sites, "Walk with Lincoln" on the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail in Alton, Illinois, on the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route. The first of the Trail's ten stops is Lincoln-Douglas Square, where life-sized statues of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas stand. They depict the last debate between the two Senate-seat contenders about slavery and other controversies of our nation’s Civil War era. The Trail's third stop, nearby Riverfront Park, is a 19-acre oasis of calm in the city.
Today, its amphitheater, picnic areas, and lush grassy areas are perfect for plenty of family activities. But in 1862, a deadly smallpox epidemic broke out at the Alton Prison near here, killing hundreds of captured Confederate soldiers. A memorial, Smallpox Island Monument, stands in the Lincoln Shields Recreation Area across the river from the park, where diseased inmates were quarantined. The Trail's seventh stop is the Confederate Cemetery on Rozier Street, where a 67-foot tall granite column erected in 1907 commemorates the Confederate prisoners buried there. The eighth stop is the stone ruins of the Alton Prison itself.
At the same stop in Riverfront Park, read about a "non-duel" that took place across the river in 1842 between Illinois Auditor James Shields and Illinois State Legislator Abraham Lincoln. Shields demanded the duel after discovering the true identity of the author of satirical, criticizing letters to the local Sangamon Journal. The writer was not a local widow, as was claimed, but Lincoln himself! Arriving for the duel as per tradition, Lincoln casually swung a heavy cavalry broadsword at overhanging branches far out of reach of the shorter auditor. Shields wisely decided to settle the disagreement by less violent means.
These and other historic sites are included in a self-guided audio tour available for your cell phone or mp3 player. Planning to walk it? The entire tour is about an eight mile loop, but five sites on the list are within a few blocks of eath other in downtown Alton. For more information on attractions and events around Alton, as well as access to electronic or printable versions of the Lincoln & Civil War Legacy Trail audio tour, visit the official Alton visitors website. Come learn more about the people and places of the American Civil War by visiting Alton on the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Route.
- Copyright © 2013 Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.
- Copyright © 2013 Clark-Floyd Counties Convention-Tourism Bureau.