Dad vibes at the Locks and Dam


There are two kinds of museums I really love: Museums dedicated to one person's eccentric collection (Hello to the original Space Museum in Bonne Terre, Mo.) and museums dedicated to engineering feats. Art and history museums are great, but there's something about massive infrastructure construction that really makes me feel proud.


Outside of Alton, Il. is the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, one of 29 upper Mississippi River Locks which help deliver goods up and down the river. Why do we need this? Because from the start of the Mississippi River in Minnesota to St. Louis the elevation of the river falls 420 feet! Acting like a flight of stairs, the locks and dam safely let ships and cargo get up and down the river.


The National Great Rivers Museum lets you get up close and personal with this essential part of our supply lines. Built along with the locks and dam, the museum establishes the importance of the river ecologically and lets you play with your own smaller lock and dam to get an idea of how the water flows.


Also there's a barge simulator that lets you pilot a tugboat pushing a barge through the lock, and it's not just a computer game. It has a whole boat bridge built out with all the levers and buttons you could hope for while causing millions of dollars of simulated damage when you manage to run the whole thing into the shore.


If you're in the area you should absolutely make a trip to see the museum and check out nearby Alton. It's not as flashy as the Louvre, but the Mona Lisa never delivered wheat up river, either.