ALTON — People will tell you photographs are some of their most treasured keepsakes. Pictures of nature, scenery and landmarks recall feelings and memories shared with friends and loved ones long after they are captured.
The relatively recent advent of phone cameras and pocket digital cameras gives almost anyone the opportunity to photograph the world around them. Everywhere you go, you see people capturing images to post on social media, send to relatives or save in family photo albums.
Residents of the Alton area have the unique good fortune to be within minutes of some of the most spectacular photo opportunities anywhere. While many people travel the country or the globe in search of images reflecting the beauty and the grandeur of life, local residents have world class scenery in their own back yard.
Nature and wildlife make for some of the greatest photographs and nowhere are there better opportunities for this type of photography than the Great River Road.
From January through March, the migration of eagles from the northern regions offers chances to capture no end of inspiring pictures of these magnificent creatures. In the autumn, the changing colors splashed over the commanding bluffs create an awe-inspiring tableau unparalleled anywhere else.
Any time of the year, the mighty Mississippi River provides an unequaled scenic backdrop. Whether it is sailboats glistening in the summer sunlight or powerful barges plying the craggy ice flows, the Mississippi is a spectacular setting just waiting to be captured.
Alton’s rich national historical significance brings with it a wealth of architectural scenes. Structures dating back to the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates demonstrate an originality and creativity our founders brought to life in the buildings they erected.
The Christian Hill area of Alton just west of Alton’s main business district has churches and homes reflecting the old-world craftsmanship of the 1800s. Victorian architecture like that of the Wise-Olin house on State Street presents photo opportunities of which anyone can take advantage. Magnificent Gothic architecture like that found in many of the churches there overwhelm the senses and make for pictures that almost fall into the camera on their own.
The Middletown part of Alton around Henry and East 12th streets holds equally dramatic structures that are perfect photo targets. The Watson Mansion on Alby Street is just one of many breathtaking Victorian architectures in the area. The Bruch-Guertler House on Blair Avenue dates back to 1854 and is almost otherworldly in the presence it brings to photographs.
Other areas of town offer equally splendid buildings and structures. One could spend an entire week just capturing the beauty of the architectural variety within the town.
The photo opportunities most unique to the area are the result of the important significance this region has played in our nation’s history.
The statue of Robert Wadlow in Upper Alton is a favorite to snap with family members. The Lincoln-Douglas debate monument downtown makes for inspiring images with unequaled historical context. The Lovejoy Monument rises high into the sky, greeting visitors as they cross into the town over the Clark Bridge.
The Clark Bridge itself is spectacular beyond description. People have been taking pictures of it for more than 20 years and still find a new or unique angle or composition for it every day.
Many spend thousands of dollars and countless hours attempting to find and capture memorable photographic opportunities. Alton area residents have the remarkable good fortune to live in an area where they need only look nearby to find great opportunities for photography everywhere.