One Sunday afternoon, my group wanted to get outside and soak up the sun. It was one of those glorious winter’s days when the sun was shining and makes you think spring is on the way! We decided we wanted to go the backroads from our house to Tower Rock. So we piled in our rig and hit the county roads to get there. We got there during the “golden hour” in photographer terms, which is the hour before the sun sets. During this time, I find something magically happens with the light in my photographs. Although, Tower Rock is awe inspiring in any light!
When I think of Tower Rock, I always think of the Jim Watkin’s quote:
“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”
I think back to all of the history this magnificent rock could tell us if it could talk. Tower Rock holds a special place in my heart. I remember as a little girl looking at pictures on my grandma’s wall of when my uncle got to walk across the mighty Mississippi River to see Tower Rock up close in the 80s. I remember telling myself as a little girl, I was going to do that one day too! So far, I have been able to cross 5 times now, and once on ice!
While I love the adventure and thrill of crossing the Mississippi River when it is low by foot. I also enjoy the view of Tower Rock towering some 60 plus feet above the river in all of it’s magnificent glory. While no one doubts the mighty Mississippi is strong, I have always thought how tenacious that rock must be to hold firm while the swift current flows around it. It truly is a remarkable piece of Missouri history!
Tower Rock has been mentioned in historical journals by Father Jacques Marquette in the late 1600s and William Clark and Lewis Merriweather during their travels in the early 1800s. President Ulysses S. Grant spared Tower Rock from proposed blasting by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1871. In 1970 it was listed on the National Register of Historic places. I find it fascinating that the President of the United States deemed it important enough to spare. I am so glad he did!
Tower Rock has been the center of much folklore due to the whirlpools that surround it. Native Americans in the area warned Lewis and Clark to not go by Tower Rock due the demon in the water around it that supposedly devoured travelers. It is also said that in 1839 that a tragedy struck a wedding party there and all but one died while rowing back to the Illinois side. It was stated in a later account that a niece of the bride from the tragedy saw the ghostly wedding party rise up out of the water during her 20th birthday celebration. What a haunting sight that must have been? Whether or not you believe the ghost stories, the whirlpools around Tower Rock are no laughing matter. If you watch while you are there, you might be lucky enough to see one form in the cove where the water rushes around the rock.
While much lore and history surround Tower Rock, it is also surrounded by a raw and wild beauty. This area is not as developed as other conservation areas, which is one of many things that I love about it. It is surrounded by woods and a steep bluff. If you continue over the train tracks, there is a short trail that is less than half a mile. It climbs up a steep hill that gives you a commanding view of Tower Rock. History, spooky tales, or beautiful scenery, whatever your pull is towards visiting Tower Rock, you will not be disappointed in this amazing and beautiful piece of Missouri History!
If you are wondering how to get to this amazing piece of Missouri History, travel towards the small river town of Wittenberg on Highway A. Turn right onto Perry county road 460. You will go about 1.5 miles on this small gravel road. As the road gets closer to the river, it does get narrower. There is a small parking lot off the side of the road.
Meet our Guest Blogger, Amber Odom:
Hey everyone! I am an elementary teacher by day and a nature lover at heart. I love exploring new places in southeast Missouri, meeting new people, and being in the great outdoors! Come along with me as I explore those MO backroads adventures!
Stay Connected with Amber!
Instagram Page: @mobackroadadventures
Facebook Page: @MObackroadadventures
Check back for more from Amber and her family’s Missouri (Perry County) Back Road Adventures.