Alton, IL (ALN)
Located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers, Alton developed as a trade center. Limestone cliffs along the Mississippi are home to bald eagle nests.
3400 College Avenue
Alton, IL 62002
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 59,809
- Facility Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Parking Lot Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Platform Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The Alton depot is a red brick structure built by the Chicago and Alton Railroad (which later merged into the Gulf, Mobile, and Ohio) in 1928. The line from Alton to Springfield, Ill., opened in 1853, and was the first railroad to use George Pullman’s sleeping cars, which became immensely popular on lines throughout the country. The “Alton Route” nickname for the railroad has survived several owners (now Union Pacific).
The station itself is a popular place for St. Louis-area passengers to begin and end their trips, whether they are from the Illinois portion of the metro area or from the suburbs on the north side of St. Louis. Under the Federal Railroad Administration’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program, the state of Illinois received $1.2 billion to improve the Chicago-St. Louis rail corridor so passenger trains will be able to attain regular speeds of 110 mph. When completed in 2017, the upgraded line is expected to present an even stronger transportation alternative for drivers along the congested Interstate 55 corridor.
Part of the HSIPR funding awarded to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) included $7.4 million for the construction of a new station in Alton, which is one of the busiest Amtrak stops in the state. In December 2011, the HSIPR funding was augmented by $13.85 million awarded to the city of Alton and the Madison County Transit District through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program.
In September 2015, Alton Mayor Brant Walker and city leaders were joined by U.S. Representative Mike Bost, state elected officials and representatives from IDOT and Amtrak to break ground on the new Alton Regional Multimodal Transportation Center. At approximately 8,000 square feet—ten times larger than the current Amtrak station—the transportation center will include a baggage room, waiting room, electronic information signs and ticket vending machines.
The design, developed by IDOT in conjunction with the city of Alton and Madison County Transit (MCT), includes a clock tower and large expanses of glass to allow natural light to flood the interior. The station will accommodate Amtrak trains, MCT buses, bicycles and taxis. Since Alton is a popular departure point for train riders from the wider St. Louis metropolitan area, ample parking is also included in the site layout. Construction is expected to last approximately one year.
The transportation center is being constructed at the site of the former Robert Wadlow Golf Course north of the city center and about two miles northwest of the existing station. The golf course property offers easy access from Interstate 255, U.S. Route 67 and State Route 3, and according to city plans, it will be transformed into a new mixed-use center to include housing, commercial, office and cultural spaces. A portion of the site has also been designated as green space.
The city estimates that each dollar of TIGER funding will leverage more than $4 in total spending on the new town center. In all, the transportation-oriented development planned for the area around the station is estimated to generate more than $41 million in private investment—a significant achievement for a municipality that is recognized by the federal government as an “economically distressed area.”
Robert Wadlow was the world’s tallest man, a pituitary giant, someone who grows enormously due to an overactive pituitary gland. When he was born in Alton on February 22, 1918, he was a completely normal baby, 8 ½ pounds. However, by the time he was a year old he weighed twice normal, 44 pounds. By nine years he’d reached 6′, 2″, by sixteen he hit 7′, 10″, and weighed nearly 400 pounds. At the time of his death in 1940 he was 8′, 11.1″ tall and weighed 439 pounds making him the world’s tallest person in history, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Known as “Alton’s Gentle Giant,” his gravestone at the Upper Alton Cemetery simply reads “At Rest.” A life-size bronze statue of Wadlow was unveiled in 1985 on the grounds of Southern Illinois University Dental School, about ten minutes west of the current station.
The first settlers in Alton were the Illiniwek or Illinois Confederacy Native Americans. Evidence of an early Native American settlement manifests itself in the legendary Piasa bird, a petroglyph on a cliff above the Mississippi River. The painting was first seen by Father Jacques Marquette in 1673. The Piasa bird was said to have the body of a calf covered in scales, horns on its head, a lion’s beard, and red eyes. Unfortunately, the painting was destroyed in the 1960s to make way for the Great River Road, yet visitors can see a replica painting created in 1998. The Piasa bird has become the symbol of Alton.
Alton is located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and the Illinois Rivers. It was developed as a river town in 1818 by Rufus Easton, who named the town for his son. Alton was once growing faster than St. Louis due to its prime location. Mark Twain once referred to Alton as “a dismal little river town,” yet his description seems far from accurate. Today the city attracts many visitors with its numerous museums, outdoor recreational activities, and vibrant history.
The city of Alton played a large role in the abolitionist movement. On November 7, 1837, the abolitionist printer Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered by a mob of slavery supporters while trying to protect his press from being destroyed for a third time. Lovejoy became the first martyr of the movement. The Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution was drafted in Alton in his honor. Also, many of Alton’s historic Queen Anne-style homes provided assistance to the Underground Railroad. Alton was the site of the seventh and final Lincoln-Douglas debate on October 15, 1858. A statue in downtown Alton depicts Lincoln and Douglas as they would have appeared during the debates.
Alton calls itself “the wedding capital of the Midwest,” as it has become a popular venue for weddings and receptions. Attractions include the Piasa bird painting, the cable-stayed Clark Bridge, a monument to Elijah P. Lovejoy, the Franklin House (where Abraham Lincoln once dined), and a monument to the Confederate soldiers who died in the Alton Union prison. Between 150 and 450 American bald eagles nest in the limestone cliffs lining the Mississippi River around the city, making the Alton a popular spot for bird watching in the winter and spring. Alton was also the home of jazz musician Miles Davis and Robert Wadlow, the world’s tallest man and namesake of the town center development that will contain the new Regional Multimodal Transportation Center. Between 150 and 450 American bald eagles nest in the limestone cliffs lining the Mississippi River around the city, making the Alton a popular spot for bird watching in the winter and spring.
Amtrak provides limited ticketing and baggage services at this facility, which is served by 10 daily trains.
The Lincoln Service is financed primarily through funds made available by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
- 35 Long Term Parking Spaces
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- Pay Phones
- Short Term Parking Spaces
- Ticket Office
- Wheelchair Lift