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One of the major Interpretive Centers along the Great River Road is located at Columbus-Belmont State Park, a 156-acre site that sits on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The story is one that illustrates the strategic significance of Kentucky during the Civil War, a state which switched hands several times and in which counties selected their allegiance. The fort was christened “Fort DeRussey” and referred to by General Polk as the “Gibraltar of the West.” He equipped it with a massive chain that was stretched across the Mississippi to Belmont, Missouri, to block the passage of Union gunboats and supply vessels in the western theater of the war. It was the location of General Grant’s first active engagement in the Civil War, the General who would ultimately become the President of the United States. The giant chain resides in the park.


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