Gateway Arch National Park: The Mississippi

Saint Louis

Gateway Arch National Park commemorates Saint Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the United States. Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Saint Louis was the ideal location from which to explore America’s new territories.

The French founded Saint Louis in 1764. They developed trade with the Osage Indians. The city grew into a successful fur trading post.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana purchase. The new territory doubled the size of the United States. Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a mission to explore the new lands. Lewis and Clark set out from Camp Dubois in May of 1804 to establish a route up the Missouri River to the Pacific. They returned to St. Louis in 1806.

Mississippi Riverboats

I visited the Arch with the National Park Travelers Club. We started our tour with the movie, “Monument to the Dream.” From there, we rode the tram up to the viewing platform at the top. While we were waiting for our Mississippi Steamboat ride, we had time to explore the museum on ranger-led tours.

Steamboats lined the Mississippi for miles in the mid 1800s. Saint Louis was the third busiest port in the United States at that time. After the Civil War, Chicago supplanted St. Louis as the chief Midwest port due to the railroad.

The St. Louis riverfront offers two 19th-century replica steamboats, the Tom Sawyer and the Becky Thatcher, for cruising the Mississippi River. Our group boarded the Tom Sawyer for a one-hour riverboat tour.

These boats arrived in St. Louis in 1964 to afford tourists a close look at the Gateway Arch while it was under construction. They have ferried passengers up and down the Mississippi for over 50 years. Our ride was part of our Gateway Arch tour package.

St. Louis Posts


Location: 11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: February 22, 2018
Date of my visit: July 14, 2022