Tower Rock

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Not to be confused with Grand Tower Island.
For other uses, see Tower Rock (disambiguation).
Tower Rock
Tower Rock island monument 1.jpg
Tower Rock is located in Missouri
Tower Rock
Location Brazeau Township, Perry County, Missouri
Nearest city Wittenberg, Missouri
Coordinates 37°37′54″N 89°30′53″W / 37.63167°N 89.51472°W / 37.63167; -89.51472Coordinates: 37°37′54″N 89°30′53″W / 37.63167°N 89.51472°W / 37.63167; -89.51472
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 70000344[1]
Added to NRHP February 26, 1970

Tower Rock, also known as Grand Tower, is a rock formation and landmark island in the Mississippi River, in Brazeau Township, Perry County, Missouri, near the town of Wittenberg, Missouri, and across the river from Grand Tower, Illinois.

Tower Rock has also been dubbed with many names over the centuries: Cap de Roche, Cap St. Croix la Tour, La Roche de la Croix, Rock of St. Cosme, Castle Rock and Devil's Tower.[2]

The earliest mention by Europeans of this island is by French missionary Jacques Marquette in 1673:

"...we found ourselves at a river called ouaboukigou, The mouth of which is at the 36th degree of latitude. Before reaching it, we passed by a Place that is dreaded by the Savages, because they believe that a manitou is there, — that is to say, a demon, — that devours travelers; and The savages, who wished to divert us from our undertaking, warned us against it. This is the demon: there is a small cove, surrounded by rocks 20 feet high, into which The whole Current of the river rushes; and, being pushed back against the waters following It, and checked by an Island near by, the Current is Compelled to pass through a narrow Channel. This is not done without a violent Struggle between all these waters, which force one another back, or without a great din, which inspires terror in the savages...."

Tower-Rock, view on the Mississippi (circa 1832): aquatint by Karl Bodmer from the book "Maximilian, Prince of Wied’s Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832–1834"
A view of Tower Rock

Another early mention of the rock was by French-Canadian seminarian priests: fathers Montigny, Davion and St. Cosme, who planted a cross on the rock in 1698.[3]

A ridge directly across the river from the island is named Devil's Backbone.

Meriwether Lewis mentions the island in his journals, stating that rivermen who passed the rock would celebrate in a way similar to sailors crossing the equator, by raising a drink of spirits.

Lutherans from Germany considered this island their Plymouth Rock, for here they landed, after seeking a place where they could practice religious freedom.

In a Nov. 6, 2003, article in the Southern Illinoisan newspaper, Mike Keeley, manager of the Tower Rock National Historic Site for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said that it's possible to walk out to Tower Rock every year or so because of low water levels on the river.

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