Finely executed view of a Tower Rock on the Mississippi River, from Maximilian, Prince of Wied's Travels in the Interior of North America, during the years 1832-1834.
Tower Rock, also known as Grand Tower, is a rock formation and landmark island in the Mississippi River, in Perry County, Missouri, near the town of Wittenberg, Missouri, and across the river from Grand Tower, Illinois. The earliest European mention of this island is by Jacques Marquette in 1673. Meriwether Lewis mentions the island in his journals, stating that rivermen who passed the rock would celebrate in a way similar to sailors crossing the equator, by raising a drink of spirits.
Karl Bodmer was engaged by Prince Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied to provide a record of his travels in North America, with his final destination being time spent among the Plains Indians. Along with Davide Dreidoppel (Prince Maximilian's servant and hunting companion), the the trio travelled 1832 to 1834. They arrived in Boston in July 1832, traveled on to Philadelphia, where they stayed with Napoleon Bonaparte's elder brother Joseph. From here they headed west across Pennsylvania across the Alleghenies to Pittsburgh and the Ohio country, visiting all the important German settlements en route.
The most important stop on their route west was at the utopian colony of New Harmony in Indiana. The Prince spent five months there in the company of some of the country's leading scientific men, and studying all the relevant literature on backcountry America. The trip into the Plains region commenced in March 1833.