Alton and the Mississippi River

Local historian Donald Huber wrote this story of his hometown of Alton and the influence of the Mississippi River. Alton was founded in 1818 by Rufus Alton who named the town for his son, Alton Easton.  The river brought prosperity to the town, despite periodic floods that caused financial setbacks. This article tells the story of Alton’s founding, development and personalities. It tells of the history of flooding, the establishment of the first Illinois State prison, which would later be used as a Confederate prison, the advent of the railroad connecting Alton to Springfield in 1852 and construction of a lock and dam at Alton and how it changed the geography of the Mississippi River in Alton. And of course, the story would not be complete without telling the stories of Abraham Lincoln’s visits to Alton.