Tower Rock

We made it out to Tower Rock, and it was worth making the trek down to the rural corner of southeast Missouri where it’s located.

Alfred R. Waud, Grand-Tower Rock, Below St. Louis, 1874, wood cut engraving, Missouri History Museum, N45809

As can be seen from the above engraving, Tower Rock has been a sight on the river for generations of travelers, and I think about all the people who have passed through St. Louis wo sailed by the rocky outcropping in steamboats, barges or flatboats.

It turns out I’ve actually photographed Tower Rock before, way back in May of 2014 from the Illinois side, from the town of Grand Tower.

Amazingly, I took these photographs on Saturday, and on Thursday–yesterday–I already received word that the waters of the Mississippi had reclaimed the land around the landmark.

I can imagine the Twain would have something amusing to say about people traveling from far and wide to gaze at the huge rocky outcropping.

It’s been worn by the flow of the Mississippi for eons, apparently, and this is the first time walking up the the tower has been possible since the late 1980s.

Climb at your own risk.

On the east side of the rock you can make it close to third of the way across the channel of the river, but it is still a long ways across.

For those with more time, there is another spit of land that is dry right now.

There is a second, smaller tower of rock left behind by erosion.

Just as interesting are the huge plates of limestone that have been heaved and thrown around under the normal water level of the Mississippi.

The weather was perfect, and the crowd was light and friendly.

You can get a sense of the scale. This used to be the bottom of a prehistoric sea, so the paleontologists tell us.

I don’t know if this layer is limestone or not.

Over on the Illinois side, you can just see the town of Grand Tower poking its head above the levee which protects it.

Here’s that gas pipeline suspension bridge. I guess I don’t know why it wouldn’t be that much more trouble to just go ahead and install a road deck after going to the trouble of sinking deep piers into the bedrock.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Cindy Rice says:

    Nice pictures Chris. So cool you were there!

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Thank you! I am glad I made it down there when I did because it was such a fleeting moment.

  2. Dan Lewis says:

    I’d like to swing a metal detector on the top looking for buried treasure.

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