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Using New Tools for Storytelling


Alton, IL to Plainfield, IN

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We’ll be visiting the Melvin Price Lock and Dam and the accompanying National Great Rivers Musuem. Designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Melvin Price is one of the most technologically advanced locks and dams on the Mississippi River to date. Each year, it assists thousands of 15-barge tows along their journey. Today, millions of tons of commerce are transported using the Mississippi River and Melvin Price has a helping hand in the process along with the 28 other lock and dam structures on the Upper Mississippi River.

The National Great Rivers Museum; this 12,000-square-foot facility resides adjacent to Melvin Price Locks and Dam. It is the direct result of a partnership between Meeting of the Rivers Foundation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its purpose – to showcase the mighty Mississippi River and interpret its story. Through interactive exhibits, a theater, and daily public tours the facility introduces the public to the great rivers, their environments, the importance of their presence, and the interaction we have as humans with them.

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Although I was born in Danville, Indiana, I was raised in Alton, Illinois. Alton is considered to be an extension of East Saint Louis, although the city itself lies across the Mississippi River and Missouri state line. We begin our journey here in Alton; home of the Great Flood of ‘93 and an exceptionally high crime rate.

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Our next stop is in Greenville, Illinois. Specifically, Marcoot Jersey Creamery. The Marcoot family operates this farm, and the farm itself houses grass-fed cattle, which produces the cheese, meat, and ice cream that’s sold here. I’ve visited this farm many times, and while I visited I interacted with the horses and livestock on the land, as well as sampling their products. They're delicious, and not far into the trip, so this is a great destination to pick up some snacks for the road. Click this text, then pick a snack.



Farm sign

Alternate sign and livestock


Now onto Vandalia, Illinois. We’ll be visiting the Old State Capitol building. Built in 1836, it is the oldest Illinois State Capitol building. The Federal-style white building which served as the Illinois State Capitol from 1836-1839 is impressive with its high ceilings, tall windows and vintage furnishings. At the top of the broad, curving staircase are the Senate and House of Representatives chambers, where Abraham Lincoln began his historical political career for the grand sum of $4 a day. Today, the Statehouse draws more than 30,000 annual visitors. Visitors may take guided tours or they may walk through the building at their own leisure. Exhibits include display boards that have copies of documents from Illinois' early days and Lincoln's tenure as a state representative in Vandalia. Visitors will walk on the same wooden floors where President Licoln once walked. As a kid who took an interest in U.S. history, this destination holds a special place in my heart.


After Vandalia, we’ll be visiting a shop in Saint Elmo, Illinois. The shop is called Driftstone Pueblo, and it was born out of reverence and appreciation for Native American culture. Driftstone Pueblo first opened its doors in 1991 growing to be the largest Native American and Southwest decor showroom in the Midwest. From the selection of authentic Native American goods to the clothing, jewelry, stones, and more, the impressive inventory is sure to inspire your sense of adventure. The merchandise in this store is one of a kind, but you don’t have to purchase anything to have a good time. There’s plenty of decor outside on the property that can be viewed, including a tepee, a statue of two horses facing off, and also a buffalo statue.

Buffalo statue and tepee

Horse statues

Store sign

Interior of store


We’re halfway there! Our next stop is in Effingham, Illinois. We’re going to the cross at the crossroads, which used to be the largest cross in the United States until Branson, Missouri constructed a larger one years later. This cross reaches up to 198 feet into the air, with a wingspan of 113 feet. This is literally just a gigantic cross outside of a humble church. For the urban explorers and climbers in the group, this cross is impossible to scale. You’ll have to admire the view from ground level. As a kid, I enjoyed feeling like I was a small part in something bigger in the universe. Standing next to a gigantic cross sure made me feel small, and that’s something I still enjoy to this day.


Onto Casey, Illinois. We’re sticking with the theme of abnormally large things. Big things in a small city, specifically. Here in Casey, this city is home to the 12 World’s Largest Items, including the world’s largest: wind chime, golf tee, pitchfork, rocking chair, wooden shoes, mailbox, gavel, truck key, barbershop pole, teeter totter, golf driver, and swizzle/twizzle spoon… whatever that is. It’s important to note that these are allegedly the 12 World’s Largest Items, but I have no way to verify this claim. There’s also a big birdcage that sits multiple people on the inside, which is a great way to feel like a small part of a big birdcage, I guess.


Golf tee


Rocking chair


Wooden shoes


Welcome to Indiana! Right across the state line lies Terre Haute, Indiana, home to Indiana State University. As an adult, I would be visiting on campus or potentially stopping by the casino in town, but we’ve regressed back to our middle childhood age, so we’re going to the children’s museum instead. This museum is three stories high, with each story containing something that children (and myself) will enjoy! There’s a rope course, a tree house, waterworks, as well as exhibits that come and go. Just recently, they had an exhibit dedicated to the solar eclipse this year. This is an all ages type of museum, even though it’s considered a children’s museum.


Now, we’re heading to our second to last spot, Cataract, Indiana. We’re visiting Cataract Falls! This park features two sets of waterfalls, beautiful trails and views, picnic areas, Cagles Mill Lake, and an aquatic center, as well as campsites available to rent. You’ll even find one of Indiana’s iconic red covered bridges here, just like you’d see on some license plates. This is my favorite destination on the list, as I’m a big hiker and nature enjoyer. In the warmer seasons, you’re able to enjoy parts of the natural water at the park. Just be careful, as the falls can flood and the currents can be strong.


Our final destination, Plainfield, Indiana. Technically, west-side Indianapolis, because we’re going to the airport. Why? Because the only thing to do in Plainfield is go to the mall, and we’ve already been shopping once. I’m not a big fan of the motor speedway, either, and this is my trip. However, as a fan of big things, I’ve always enjoyed watching airplanes take off and land. The interior of the airport is gorgeous, in my opinion. There’s shops within the airport, so if you want to do more shopping, there’s plenty of options! Even the parking garage of the airport features some art installations, so I have tons of fun just walking around and looking at the place. With that, our trip is officially finished. If you’d like to leave the midwest and take a trip somewhere else, simply purchase a ticket at the airport. Or, click the text to start the journey again. Feel free to exit the presentation, and thanks for joining me!

Airport interior

Airport walkway

Art at the airport

Airport exterior