Confluence Tower, Hartford Illinois
The tiny village of Hartford Illinois (population 1,429) recently built this 180 foot elevator equipped tower with three viewing platforms and visitor center. The total cost of construction was $5 million. That works out to be about $3,500 per resident of Hartford. Construction was completed in 2010. The tower was built to celebrate the Lewis and Clarke expedition which embarked from somewhere near the site of the tower in 1803. The tower is approximately where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers join together. It was built as close as possible to the river but had to be built inside the levee that protects against frequent floods. As a result the tower is about a half mile from the Mississippi. This partially explains why the tower had to be built so high. From the top of the tower you can kind of make out where the rivers join together but there are so many islands and turns in the rivers that I wasn't entirely sure what I was looking at. The confluence tower is very eye catching from Highway 3. It's one of the more interesting things on the side of the road in an dead flat area of farms and oil refineries.
I was driving from East Saint Louis to Alton when I saw it and immediately pulled over to look. It had just opened that morning so I got a personally guided tour to the top of the tower for the admission price of $4. The tower is entirely volunteer staffed and the volenteers are very friendly. I enjoyed my visit and was impressed by the view of the ConocoPhillips Wood River refinery. I still can't make any sense of it though. Hartford has no tourism industry. The area has no tourism industry nor does it have any services for tourists. A visitor would have no way to contribute to the local economy other than the $4 admission fee because there is nowhere to spend money. The few businesses in Hartford are over a mile away. Hartford actually seems fairly prosperous so this is not some desperate last effort to save a dieing town. I guess they just really really like Lewis and Clark.