ALL AROUND ALTON | Part II: Modern Engineering

Home / ALL AROUND ALTON | Part II: Modern Engineering

Alton’s location on the Mississippi River makes for some pretty impressive feats of engineering. Two in particular: the Melvin Price Locks & Dam and the Clark Bridge.

When we pulled up to the locks and dam, we took in the attractive, sweeping landscape. It is an impressive sight to see. Prior to our tour on and inside the Dam, Roxanne showed us around the National Great Rivers Museum. We learned construction began back in 1979. The main lock opened in 1990 and the full structure was completed in 1994. The displays are a fun mix of nature and engineering.  They explain the Mississippi River’s story and how it’s played an important role in Illinois; historically, culturally, and ecologically, both for nature and us humans.

The Clark Bridge from atop the Melvin Price Locks & Dam.

The Clark Bridge from atop the Melvin Price Locks & Dam.

Interesting Facts:

  • The system stretches 1,160 feet across the Mississippi River.
  • It consists of two locks and one dam with 9 tainter gates. (View diagram)
  • The U.S. Corps of Engineers monitors the dam 24/7/365 to maintain water levels and maneuver river traffic.
  • There are 27 locks and dams along the Mississippi River; Melvin Price is #26 on the trip south.
The Melvin Price Locks and Dam and Great Rivers Museum

The Melvin Price Locks and Dam and Great Rivers Museum

The Clark Bridge is a stunning sight to see.  It’s appears delicate and light-weight from afar and adds dimension and beauty to the river skyline. The features seemed to change depending on the time of day and our proximity to the bridge. It really is like a living part of the landscape.

Impressive Facts:

  • It was completed in 1994 (just one year after the Great Flood of 1993) and connects Missouri with Illinois via Route 67.
  • The total bridge length measures 4,620 feet, while the widest span is 758 feet.Sometimes referred to as the “Super Bridge”, many innovative engineering techniques were needed to build it; such as the use of a steel-framed cable-stayed bridge design.
  • The bridge used 8,100 tons of structural steel; 44,100 cubic yards of concrete; and more than 160 miles of cable.
The Clark Bridge by night and day.

The Clark Bridge by night and day.

*#ILMileMarkers Tip* Make sure to drive across the bridge and look up! This is one of the most remarkable views.

Stay tuned for more from our adventures in Alton, Illinois.  Up next: zip lining, eagle watching & local cuisine!


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— Nick Ulivieri and Amy Larrick, Illinois Mile Markers

Thanks to our partners for making this trip possible, including the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Holiday Inn Alton. Want to follow in our Mile Markers’ footsteps? Travel the below map! 

View Illinois Mile Markers: Alton Itinerary in a larger map

Meet the Mile Markers:


Nick Ulivieri

Nick is a Chicago based photographer specializing in commercial photography with a focus on food, and commercial/residential architecture. Nick began his professional career in the advertising industry where he developed a passion for the impact branding and design have on a business.

Nick’s creativity, and affinity for working a camera naturally led to photography as a career at Nick Ulivieri Photography. With a prominent following on Instagram, Nick looks forward to spreading his love for photography throughout the Land of Lincoln!

Amy Larrick

An Illinois native, Amy was born in Bloomington, grew up Rockford and moved to Chicago 10 years ago for college. She studied Interior Design at Harrington College of Design and during school began working in the restaurant industry.

She’s worked for Phil Stefani in the restaurant business for nearly nine years. A foodie at heart, Amy loves dining out at restaurants, as well as cooking at home. She’s always been adventurous with food and enjoys trying new ingredients and flavors. The same can be said for her love of travel. A love for discovery of new places and soaking up the culture that goes with it lends itself to the adventures ahead in Illinois!

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