Human sacrifice in Illinois's largest city (one thousand years ago), Civil War Ghosts by the Mississippi, and a man-eating bird? The Road Trip scares up some wild tales this week in the Southwestern Region.
From the ancient Indian Mounds of Cahokia to the hills of Alton, IL and all its history, the past is very much present in tonight's episode of the Road Trip. Who knew the Cahokia Mississippian settlement had a greater population than London in 1066? We explore the impressive visitor center, then light out for the Mounds themselves - huge human-made hills of earth, the skyscrapers of their time. Next, it's on to Alton by the River where we come face-to-belly-button with Robert Wadlow, the world's tallest man. Actually, it's his statue. He died in 1940 at 8 feet, eleven inches tall. Yet his amazing story still casts a long shadow, as we discover. Speaking of shadows, join Ben on a tour of some of Alton's most haunted sites, including a Confederate prison and a basement Underground Railroad stop. On a lighter note, we walk the narrow streets of Elsah, our state's first complete village to be listed on the National Register of Historical Places - a slice of New England by the Mississippi. Did we say slice? Yup, you gotta check out the pies at My Just Desserts.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
30 Ramey Street,
Collinsville, IL 62234
People from all over the world come here to marvel at what was once a major metropolis in ancient times. From the top of the largest mound, Monk's Mound, you can see the St. Louis skyline, eight miles away. Don't miss the visitors center too. That's where you'll learn about the human sacrifice part of the story. Read Ben's Blog.
Alton History, Legends, and Ghosts Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau
200 Piasa Street
Alton, IL 62002
(618) 465-6676 or (800) ALTON-IL
Antoinette's Haunted History Tours
Village of Elsah
Elsah, IL 62028
Robert Wadlow Statue and Room
After a restful night at the Tiffany Inn, we visit the site of the Robert Wadlow statue, actual size, all 8 feet, 11 inches of him. What we thought would be just a quick hello turned into a complete story, so fascinating did we find Mr. Wadlow. Don't forget to stop by the little historical museum across the street to learn more about this gentle giant. You'll see what it would be like to walk a mile in his size 44 shoes.
Piasa Bird Petroglyph
Ben has always been a believer in the supernatural, the fantastic. See how hard he clings to the notion that a man-eating bird might actually exist. Come on, Ben. Isn't the exciting Native American Indian story of this fantastic creature enough?
Village of Elsah
It's like being in a period piece movie set, circa 1859. Only people actually live here! We stroll the town - all two streets of it - with the Mayor and appreciate a different way of life. If you really love Elsah, you can enroll in the town's institution of higher education, Principia College. Or you can just come visit and grab a slice of one of 150 different pies baking at My Just Desserts. And for local gossip, there's the Post Office.
Haunted Alton Tour
Do you believe? Let your imagination run wild as you listen to Antoinette and her daughter Alix tell their tales of tortured souls still residing within these walls. Ghostly or not, the spots we were shown definitely conjured vivid images of Alton's ever present history, particularly the apartment building basement where slaves hid, waiting for the next leg of their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad 140 years ago.
410 East Broadway
Alton, IL 62002
While stained glass artist Lynne Ulett is creating her beautiful work downstairs you can be upstairs enjoying her taste and style as expressed in this unique, European-like three-room inn. Not all frilly Victorian and Raggedy Ann dolls, this place. Try gardening gloves, stained glass and funky antiques. And each room is named after a great painter. (Try the Monet room.) You can even catch a glimpse of the Mississippi River from the attractive backyard with the amazing mosaic mural.