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Great River Road
The Great River Road in Illinois
A wonderful day trip from St. Louis is to follow the Great River Road from Alton, Illinois to Grafton, Illinois. The Great River road is a series of roads that follow the Mississippi river through 10 states cutting a path through the center of the United States.
On a recent holiday weekend my husband and I joined some friends for a day of exploring a portion of the Great River Road. We started out in the morning and headed across the Clark Bridge to Alton, Illinois. Alton is a Mississippi river town that was discovered in the early 1800's. It started out as a heavy industrial town but in recent years has reinvented itself as a popular tourist area.
In this lens, I will take you through our travels past Alton and north on The Great River road. I will share my photographs of our journey to see the Piasa, the charming 19th century town of Elsah, the river town and port of Grafton and finally a stop at Pere Marquette state park.
photos by mbgphoto.
Legend of the Piasa
I had recently read a book entitled The Flight of the Piasa and this peaked my interest in visiting the drawing that the book was based upon. I had heard the legend before but had never actually visited the site so I was anxious to take some photos.
The drawing is on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi just about 1 mile past the downtown Alton area. There is a nice little park area with plenty of parking for anyone wanting to get out and take photos or walk on the nearby trails.
Flight of the Piasa - Dr. Raymond Edge
Here is the book that I had read on the Piasa. The author, Raymond Edge, attended one of our book club meetings and I really enjoyed hearing him talk about his book and how he came to write the story.
I highly recommend this book.
As you visit the town of Elsah you feel that you have stepped back into an earlier time. It is a very small town, but everything is well maintained from the small stone cottage type homes to the lovely gardens surrounding the homes.
I thought this church in charming looked really in character for a 19th century looking town.
Gardens in Elsah
I had heard there was a faux lighthouse in Grafton so it was one of the stops that I did not want to miss. Grafton's lighthouse is not a navigational aid, but rather a symbol to mark the rise of Grafton from The Great Flood. In 1993 the city of Grafton was nearly destroyed by the flood and in 2007 this symbolic lighthouse was dedicated to the people of Grafton and their hope for the future.
Piasa Winery - Grafton, IL
There were several wineries in Grafton. It seems that the grapes are grown not far from this small river town. The Piasa Winery was recommended to us by a friend so we stopped to taste some of their wines. They had a nice variety of red and white wines and offered free tasting to those that stopped by.
The winery also offered food and various beers and the atmosphere was great. They had both indoor and outdoor seating and the view from their back deck was looking out onto the river. It was a nice relaxing place to spend some time. Oh...and the people who worked their were very friendly
Pere Marquette Park
mississippi river scene
Pere Marquette park is located off the Great River Road just north of Grafton, Illinois. The park has a campground, a great lodge, picnic grounds, lots of trails and a wonderful scenic drive. This photo was taken at one of the overlooks for the Mississippi river during the scenic drive.