Grand Tower, Illinois

Grand Tower is a city in Jackson County, Illinois, United States. The population was 605 at the 2010 census.[3] The town gets its name from Tower Rock, a landmark island in the Mississippi River.[4]

Grand Tower, Illinois
Front Street
Front Street
Location of Grand Tower in Jackson County, Illinois
Location of Grand Tower in Jackson County, Illinois
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 37°37′57″N 89°30′7″W / 37.63250°N 89.50194°W / 37.63250; -89.50194Coordinates: 37°37′57″N 89°30′7″W / 37.63250°N 89.50194°W / 37.63250; -89.50194
CountryUnited States
TownshipGrand Tower
 • Total1.25 sq mi (3.24 km2)
 • Land1.25 sq mi (3.23 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.01 km2)
 • Total605
 • Estimate 
 • Density451.92/sq mi (174.45/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s)618
FIPS code17-30770
Wikimedia CommonsGrand Tower, Illinois


Former names of this town include La Tour ("The Tower"), Jenkins Landing, Cochran's Woodyard Landing, and Evans' Landing.[5][6]

The earliest inhabitants were a band of river pirates, who settled here after being driven off Spanish soil west of the Mississippi River, near the pirate ambush spot of Tower Rock. This outlaw settlement was destroyed by the United States Army dragoons in 1803. A subsequent settler was a man named Walker, who is the namesake of Walker Hill.[7][8]

Severe flooding struck the town in 1947.[9]


Grand Tower is located in southwestern Jackson County at 37°37′57″N 89°30′7″W / 37.63250°N 89.50194°W / 37.63250; -89.50194 (37.632599, -89.501944).[10] The city is bordered to the west by the Mississippi River, which forms the Missouri–Illinois boundary. The northern edge of the city borders Shawnee National Forest.

Illinois Route 3 runs through an eastern extension of the city limits, leading north (upriver) 32 miles (51 km) to Chester, where the Chester Bridge crosses the Mississippi, and south 25 miles (40 km) to Illinois Route 146, which crosses the Mississippi to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. There are no other road bridges over the Mississippi closer to Grand Tower.

According to the 2010 census, Grand Tower has a total area of 1.253 square miles (3.25 km2), of which 1.25 square miles (3.24 km2) (or 99.76%) is land and 0.003 square miles (0.01 km2) (or 0.24%) is water.[11]

Grand Tower Natural Gas Pipeline Bridge

Immediately to the south of the city is a small portion of Perry County, Missouri, which is known as "Grand Tower Island". The island's sole road connection terminates in Grand Tower.[12] The Grand Tower Pipeline Bridge connects a natural gas pipeline across the Mississippi River between Wittenberg, Missouri and Grand Tower.


The Grand Tower Energy Center is a 478 megawatt combined cycle gas-fired facility which produces power for the region. It is owned by Ameren Energy Generating Company, or Genco.[13]

Grand Tower Energy Center


Devil's Backbone Park sign

Shawnee Elementary School, North - Once a public school, now (since 2015) a private residence.

A local post office with zip code 62942 provides mail service.[14] Four churches, the First United Presbyterian Church, the Grand Tower United Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, and Light House Christian Assembly Church offer religious services.[15] A work of levees protects the community from flooding when the Mississippi River water levels rise.[16] The Devil's Backbone Park, named after a limestone ridge which created a natural bottleneck in the Mississippi River, provided easy opportunity for river pirates to attack keelboats and barges. This park provides RV camping, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and a shower house.[17]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2019564[2]−6.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[18]

As of the census[19] of 2000, there were 624 people, 268 households, and 169 families residing in the city. The population density was 496.0 people per square mile (191.2/km2). There were 309 housing units at an average density of 245.6 per square mile (94.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.24% White, 0.16% African American, 0.32% Native American, 0.64% from other races, and 0.64% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.96% of the population.

There were 268 households out of which 32.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.9% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the city, the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $27,135, and the median income for a family was $40,000. Males had a median income of $34,375 versus $23,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,525. About 11.3% of families and 20.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.4% of those under age 18 and 16.1% of those age 65 or over.

Notable peopleEdit

Popular cultureEdit

  • The novel The River Between Us, written by Richard Peck, was set in Grand Tower.



  1. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  3. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 (G001): Grand Tower city, Illinois". American Factfinder. U.S. Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 141.
  5. ^ "Visitors Guide to Grand Tower Jackson County, Illinois". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  6. ^ "Tower Rock: Sentinel of the Mississippi". 1994. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  7. ^ "Visitors Guide to the Mississippi River Museum". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  8. ^ "DROUGHT PUTS LEGENDARY ROCK WITHIN REACH". 1988-08-14. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  9. ^ "The Unluckiest Town in America". Time. 2015-07-15. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  10. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  11. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2020-02-13. Retrieved 2015-12-27.
  12. ^ DeLorme. Illinois Atlas & Gazetteer. 6th ed. Yarmouth: DeLorme, 2010, 88. ISBN 978-0-89933-321-2.
  13. ^ "Ameren Corporation Receives Approval from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Divest Its Merchant Generation Business". Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  14. ^ "GRAND TOWER POST OFFICE". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  15. ^ "CHURCHES IN GRAND TOWER IL". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  16. ^ Murray, Josh (2015-02-15). "Grand Tower: Living in the shadow of crumbling levees". The Southern.
  17. ^ "Visitors Guide to the Devil's Backbone Park". Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  18. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  19. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.

External linksEdit