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West Alton, Missouri: Smallpox Island Memorial

Nearly 300 soldiers and 16 civilians were buried near this site after smallpox swept a nearby Confederate POW prison.

Lincoln Shields Recreation Area

Riverlands Way, West Alton, MO
Lincoln Shields Recreation Area, across the Mississippi River from Alton, Illinois. From US-67 take the first/last exit in Missouri (after/before crossing the Clark Bridge) onto Riverlands Way (look for the Phillips 66 station) and then turn left at the Bird Sanctuary sign. Follow the road under US-67 to the Recreation Area. The memorial is at the far end of the parking lot. Note: this area is often flooded and inaccessible in the Spring.
Gated after hours. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Smallpox Island Memorial Monument.

Smallpox Island Memorial Monument

When a smallpox epidemic hit the Civil War Military Prison in Alton, Illinois, the dying Confederate POWs were sent to a small island in the middle of the Mississippi River. They were minimally cared for and eventually buried there. The island is long gone, although skeletal remains were discovered during the building of a lock and dam system in the 1930s. This granite monument was dedicated at water's edge in 2002 and has the name, rank, and company of nearly 300 soldiers, as well as 16 civilians. Five pointed concrete slabs form a perfect star pointing directly north. The original plaza area was paved with cobblestones, but yearly flooding has washed them all away, leaving behind a rather patchy grassy knoll.

[Mike Gassmann, 09/17/2019]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Ruins of Civil War Military PrisonRuins of Civil War Military Prison, Alton, IL - < 1 mi.
Miles Davis StatueMiles Davis Statue, Alton, IL - < 1 mi.
Lincoln-Douglas Debate StatuesLincoln-Douglas Debate Statues, Alton, IL - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Old Chain of Rocks Route 66 Bridge, Granite City, IL - 9 mi.

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