Alton was founded in 1910 or 1911 by citizens and railroad officials of Alton, Illinois. On September 21, 1989, the Alton bus crash occurred; a Dr. Pepper truck hit a Mission Consolidated Independent School District school bus and caused it to fall into a caliche pit, killing 21 students.
A city on the Mississippi River in Madison County, Illinois, United States, about 18 miles (29 km) north of St. Louis, Missouri. The population was 27,865 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Metro-East region of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. It is famous for its limestone bluffs along the river north of the city, for its role preceding and during the American Civil War. It was the site of the last Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate in October 1858. The former state penitentiary in Alton was used during the Civil War to hold up to 12,000 Confederate prisoners of war.
Although Alton once was growing faster than the nearby city of St. Louis, a coalition of St. Louis businessmen planned to build a competing town to stop Alton's expansion and bring business to St. Louis. The resulting town was Grafton, Illinois. Many blocks of housing in Alton were built in the Victorian Queen Anne style. They represent a prosperous period in the river city's history. At the top of the hill in the commercial area, several stone churches and a fine city hall also represent the city's wealth during its good times based on river traffic, manufacturing and shipping. It was a commercial center for a large agricultural area. Numerous residences on hills have sweeping views of the Mississippi River.