ALTON – Sit back and relax during a narrated tour of the many significant sites and beautifully restored homes of Alton, a historic city that will turn 177 years old this July.
The Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau and Bluff City Tours have formed a partnership to offer Historic Alton and Mansions of Middletown shuttle tours in April and May.
Tours are scheduled for April 5 and 19 and May 3 and 17. The Historic Alton tours are 10 a.m. to noon while the Mansions of Middletown are 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on those four dates. Cost is $25 per person for either tour.
“These tours offer the public a chance to step back in time to see and hear about the era when the nation was in the midst of its Civil War and prisoners of the Confederacy were locked up at the old Alton prison,” said Brett Stawar, CEO/President of the Alton Regional CVB. “Over 1,300 Confederate soldiers would die, mostly from smallpox, while held captive in Alton.”
One of the stops on the Historic Alton tour is where a couple of walls from the old prison site have been erected as a reminder of the city’s ties to the bloodiest war in American history. A few of the other stops include the Lovejoy Monument, dedicated to our nation's first free-press martyr; the quaint Christian Hill Historic District, with its spectacular views of the Mighty Mississippi, the Robert Wadlow statue, erected in honor of the world's tallest person at 8-foot, 11.1 inches.
During the Mansions of Middletown Alton tour, guests will have their own chance to step back into the 1800s as they enter the front doors of some of Alton's splendid mansions in the Middletown District. Life was good and business was booming for many of Alton's philanthropic industrialists and the homes they and their families lived in showed it. Also included in the tour is the Lucy Haskell Playhouse. This Queen Anne-style playhouse was built for Lucy J. Haskell, daughter of Dr. William A. and Florence H. Haskell. The playhouse was an exact replica of the family home. Lucy died at age 9 of diphtheria and the Haskells gave the estate to the city of Alton for educational and recreational purposes. The playhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be visited in Haskell Park.
“This shuttle tour of Alton’s finest, historic homes on or near Millionaires Row in the Middletown District will give people an idea of how important the city was as a river port in the 1800s,” Stawar said. “Many of the affluent families made their money in steamboats and transportation.”
Boarding for the shuttles will be at the Alton Visitor Center, 200 Piasa St., Alton, Ill., 62002, and the shuttle will return passengers to the visitor center at the conclusion of the tour.
The CVB also added two more Underground Railroad tours for March 29 at 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. due to high demand as the other four in March sold out quickly.
For more information or to make reservations for any of the shuttle tours, go to www.VisitAlton.com/Shuttle or call (800) 258-6645.