Tower Rock
Tower Rock

History of Tower Rock

Over the years, hundreds, maybe thousands of people have flocked to the Mississippi River to walk the narrows to the famous Tower Rock. It is legend that a person will only have this opportunity maybe three times in their life. To stand back and view this awesome rock is to say the least, breathtaking. But how many of Tower Rock’s visitors know that there were other massive rock structures in the area? Where are they? Where did they go? Why is Tower Rock the only one left?
On Feb. 24, 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant reserved Tower Rock for public purpose by executive order. Grant issued the order thinking that someday it might be used for a pier of a bridge to span the river. 
Tower Hill, as it is was named, was a larger landlocked “twin” hill just south of the narrows of Tower Rock. The original configuration of Tower Hill is relatively unknown, but it was larger than Tower Rock in diameter, and early photos from the 1920’s show that Tower Hill was taller too, with a “wall” structure at its base twenty feet tall along its north side adjoining the south side of the Tower Rock narrows. Tower Hill, in colonial times was flanked to the north and west by at least five Towers, and an equal number of small squat, flat towers resulting from joint dissections of a natural “jetty” jutting out from Tower Hill point.
Tower Hill was quarried from at least 1837 until its extinction in 1972. Parties interested in quarry work at Tower Hill stated that they needed to remove it to provide safe river navigation. Tower Hill was finally blasted down to the approximate level of standard river stage by 1972- the quarried rock being used mostly for graveling roads. Tower Hill, and all but two environs, are gone.
The next time you visit the majestic Tower Rock, take time to explore the quarry’s remains of Tower Hill. To read more about Tower Hill history, visit the research department at Perry County Historical Society Research Library and Archive. Please read: “Industrial & GeoArcheological Survey of Tower Rock Hill Quarry in the Tower Rock Nature Area” by Carl M. Wright. Mr. Wright was a resident of Perryville and we appreciate his contribution made to Perry County’s history and its preservation.