Thirty members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Bradley University had an early start to their day, as they boarded a charter coach for southern Illinois.
We began with a tour of the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford, IL which started as a project to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition but became a structure that honors the courage of the two men who set west. OLLI members went high above the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, about 150 feet up to view the confluence, and listened to our guide, Mary Ann describe the background of this monument rich with history.
Our next stop was a visit to the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, located south of the majestic Clark Bridge near Alton, Illinois on the Upper Mississippi River. Our private tour took us atop the Dam, as we learned how this lock and dam system helps to control the flow of the Mississippi and is the means by which barges are able to navigate the river.
After visiting the lock and dam area we had a chance to see the Great Rivers Museum. Established in 2003, the 12,000-square-foot facility contains a large model of the bluffs of the region, an aquarium displaying the various species that inhabit the river, and exhibits explaining the mechanics of the river.
A short drive down the scenic river road we found our final stop, Père Marquette State Park. We enjoyed a delicious all-you-can eat fried chicken dinner in the lodge dining room. We then met with park naturalist Scott Isringhausen, who gave us a short presentation about the park on the veranda. We walked to the visitor's center for a brief stop before boarding the coach for the trip home.
It was a gorgeous, late summer day to be out and about in southern Illinois.