Local businessman, reenactor, and lecturer Scott Adams will describe the history, natural beauty, and history of the completion locally of the Great River Road, at Farley’s Music Hall, Elsah, Illinois, on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The lecture is the last of the Hosmer-Williams Lecture Series for 2017, described often as the area’s preeminent free lecture program. The Series is presented by Historic Elsah Foundation and sponsored by Liberty Bank, Godfrey, Illinois.
Certain sections of the Great River Road, over 2000 miles long, have national scenic byway status, including a 33-mile segment from Hartford to Grafton, Illinois. Plans for a national road along the Mississippi River go back to the late 1930s, interrupted and postponed by World War II, and revived in 1949 when Congress approved a feasibility study. Because it was deemed too expensive to build an entirely new parkway, it was recommended instead that the project be designated a scenic route.
The scenic route would consist of existing riverside roads, and new construction would be limited to connecting the existing roads so that a continuous route could be developed. The existing roads would be upgraded to parkway quality. The modified approach would save a great deal of land acquisition and new construction costs. Another consideration was that some of the most scenic locations along the river had already been preempted by existing highways, railroads, and towns and cities.
On completion, the Great River Road changed travel dramatically in the region. Once travel between Alton and Grafton was a choice between rail or steamboat. No longer. Scott Adams’ lecture will provide dramatic and graphic insights into the closing days of this project, and its dedication in September 1965.
The Hosmer-Williams lectures are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required. Parking is plentiful and nearby. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.
For additional information, contact Tim Tomlinson, Historic Elsah Foundation, 618-374-1518.