Call (618)-251-2680, ask for the 150-foot view of where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers join, and you just might get 72-year-old Hartford Mayor Jim Hickerson as your tour guide.
The village’s finances are tight, so expenses at the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower must be cut. The $6 admission doesn’t cover costs, so village residents have contributed about $300 in taxes per person to keep it open.
Until now. Winter tours will be by appointment only, with someone from the village hall coming over to open up. Fewer lights are on at night, advertising was dropped and staff was cut.
Regular Wednesday through Sunday hours resume April 1.
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It was a great idea in 2000 to honor the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition with twin, 180-foot towers to represent the two explorers near where they made winter camp and where the two rivers meet. Starting in 1803 they trained their Corps of Discovery nearby and sent dispatches to President Thomas Jefferson before embarking in May 1804 on explorations that would open the American West.
But raising the $5 million for the tower took longer than expected. The state gave $1.58 million in grants to get it finished, and it finally opened in 2010.
The tower was pushed and pursued by some of the same people still involved. It was a noble effort, and the community owes the visionaries as well as the village residents who paid so others could take in the view from platforms 50, 100 and 150 feet up.
Here’s hoping the village finds a way forward that doesn’t cost it a cop or force the tower to close. Here’s also hoping none of our friends in Springfield decide to swoop in and rescue the tower during the 2018 election cycle.
When you can’t pay all your bills, you tighten your belt as Hartford has. You don’t offer to pay for someone else’s pants.