The History of Upper Alton High School
Alton (population 30,496) is located in southwestern Illinois about 15 miles north of St. Louis, Mo. Alton sits in the northwest corner of Madison County. U.S. Route 67 and the Illinois Routes of 143, 111, and 3 all lead to and from Alton. Alton is a true river town, being platted on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. Several railroad lines including the Southern Pacific, Burlington Northern, and Gateway Western all travel through Alton.
Alton was established in 1837 according to the town’s official website address of http://alton-il.com/. According to the website address of http://www.villageprofile.com/illinois/alton/alton2.html Alton has an incredibly historic past. It was the site of where Lewis and Clark left for their journey to explore the west. It was also home to Illinois’ first state penitentiary.
In the early 1800s there were two towns baring the name of Alton. Along the Mississippi River sat the town of Alton, known then by some as “Lower” Alton. On the hills to the northeast was laid a town named Upper Alton. Upper Alton had a post office in 1818 however was not officially recognized as a town until it was chartered as such in the 1821. The following information was found on the web address of http://www.4sullivans.com/jtsgeneralstore/where.html :
“Upper Alton was once a separate town from Rufus Easton’s “Lower Alton.” It was laid out in 1816 and 1817 by Joseph Meacham and was incorporated as a village in 1821.
Throughout much of the nineteenth century, Upper Alton was synonymous with Shurtleff College, and the area had the flavor of a college town. Upper Alton was annexed by the city of Alton in 1911.”
At one time it was Upper Alton that had the promise of being the larger and more influential area of Alton. The town had a college and Western Military Academy both within its limits. However “Lower” Alton quickly became an industrial port and important shipping center for the midwest. As stated above, the decision was to combine the towns in to one city with the name of Alton.
We believe that the original high school in town was located in Upper Alton. In records kept by the Collinsville High School and Hillsboro High School basketball programs, according to research provided by Mark Jurenga, both schools competed with Upper Alton High School in the early 1900s. It is shown that beginning in 1911 this competition was simply against Alton High School.
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Upper Alton High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800s
Year became Alton High School: between 1909 and 1911
Upper Alton HS team nickname: unavailable (may be same as Alton HS – “Redbirds”)
Upper Alton HS team colors: unavailable (may be same as Alton HS – Red & Gray)
School Fight Song: unavailable – may not have been utilized at the time