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National Great Rivers Museum

In & Outdoor Free
Science Museums, School Trip, Educational
2 Lock And Dam Way, Alton, IL
  Phone: 618-462-6979

Activity Overview

Lots of history pertaining to life on the river and a good explanation of why we need locks and what barges do in comparison to other means of transportation.

Things to See & Do

  • Melvin Price Lock and Dam - Learn how Melvin Price Locks and Dam were built and how it operates today. Watch the lock for the large barge open and close, and see the barge go through. One could look right down on the action.

Exhibit Highlights

  • Mississippi in Motion - Learn how rivers forces act on the river to change its course and character over time. See how the Mississippi flows from the source to the Gulf of Mexico and the dams control the flow maintaining high enough water levels for shipping and low enough to prevent flooding over the levees.
  • Stairway for Boats - This exhibit lets visitors control a flow of water between four stair-stepped pools, an abstraction of the Mississippi Lock and Dam System. This exhibit also describes the Upper Mississippi Lock and Dam System.
  • Steer the Barge - Come see the life-size, realistic replica of a towboat pilothouse. Try your hand at steering a virtual barge through the locks.
  • Aquarium - Jurassic Fish can be found in the museum aquarium. From longnose gar to shovelnose sturgeon see how they looked in prehistoric times.
  • Moving Water - A stream table allows visitors to see how a riverbed may change as water flows downstream.

National Great Rivers Museum Insider Tips

  • The museum is free and open to the public. Donations are greatly appreciated.
  • Public Lock Tours run daily at 10:00am., 1:00pm, and 3:00pm (tours begin promptly). Tours are free and run about 45 minutes in length. The tour let's you walk across the top of the dam.
  • Allow at least 1 1/2 hours to visit both the museum and locks and dam.
  • Visit here in the winter to watch the eagles nest.

Best for ages 12+

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