Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Riverfront Property

The Middle of the Mississippi

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Middle Mississippi exhibit section
Artifacts and photographs on loan from many sources, including:
~ Anheuser-Busch Inc., St. Louis MO
~ Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch IA
~ Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis MO
~ Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine IA

"I have haunted the river every night lately, where I could get a look at the bridge by moonlight. It is indeed a structure of perfection and beauty unsurpassable, and I never tire of it."
- Walt Whitman

The cultural and approximate geographic mid-point of America's largest waterway is St. Louis, located at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The perfect site for a trading post, the city became the center for fur trappers moving east and west and boatmen moving north and south.

St. Louis was eventually called the "Gateway City" to the West as millions of Americans outfitted themselves here before moving on to the California goldfields, Colorado silver mines, or homesteads on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. Germans started the foundries and breweries, while the Irish settled in to make wagons for pioneers moving west.

Although steamboat traffic dominated the Gateway City for over 50 years, America was being settled east to west, not north to south. Railroad entrepreneurs were not long deterred by the Mississippi, and the 1874 construction of the Eads Bridge continued the city's reign as the hub for all traffic across the center of the nation.

At least two other modern marvels arose in St. Louis. Local investors took a chance on a young airplane pilot named Charles Lindbergh, who had grown up along the banks of the Mississippi. His plane "The Spirit of St. Louis" was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. And since 1968, the Gateway Arch has soared 630 feet above the Mississippi, a timeless and national symbol of westward expansion.

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Did you know … ?
James Eads designed and built the Eads Bridge - the first tubular steel structure of its kind - at the exact point where he had been dragged from the river as a boy after surviving a steamboat explosion.

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This section "Riverfront Property" has the following related pages:
The Middle of the Mississippi

Continue through exhibit

2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
You are here!
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
View Selected Artifacts
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Thank You!
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