Devil's Backbone is an unusual limestone ridge that runs for about one-half mile along the eastern shore of the Mississippi River at Grand Tower. At the north edge of the Backbone, there is steep gap and then the Devil’s Bake Oven, a larger rock that stands on the edge of the river and rises to heights of nearly one hundred feet. These two landmarks were used by river men to signal a shallow spot in the Mississippi River.
Before the river was dammed, keelboats and barges were towed over the sandbars using mules. This bottleneck became a natural hijacking area for river pirates. The raids by river pirates became so bad that in 1803, a detachment of U.S. Cavalrymen were dispatched to drive the outlaws from the area. In the late 1800s an iron foundry was built on the hillside on Devil’s Backbone. A two-story house of the superintendant of furnaces stood nearby. The house is gone today but the legend has it that the superintendant’s daughter haunts the site. When her stubborn father refused to allow the daughter to marry the man she loved, she lost all will to live and her ghostly figure has been said to be seen floating up the path to the site. The ruins of the foundry house can be found on the eastern side of the hill below Devil’s Bake Oven.
Devil's Backbone Park is located at the northern edge of the community of Grand Tower. It offers RV camping, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and a shower house. The Park offers an excellent view of Tower Rock, a small landmark limestone island carved by the Mississippi River mentioned in the journals of both Pere Marquette in 1673 and Lewis and Clark in 1803.