Explore stories of the 1850s St. Louis Riverfront Era in Virtual Reality

Cobblestones & Courage, an exciting 3D movie at
Gateway Arch National Park.

Learn More
Black and white image of Anna Hormann a German immigrant women in her 40's.
Image of John Parker an enslaved African American dock worker, who was saving for his freedom license.
Image of James Eads, age 22, standing on the St. Louis levee in the 1850s.

Anna Hormann

Anna and her family arrived in St. Louis as immigrants from Bremen, Germany.

John Parker

John was an enslaved dock worker who loaded and unloaded steamboats to make money to buy his freedom.

James B. Eads

James designed a ‘submarine’ to salvage cargo from sunken steamboats at the bottom of the Mississippi River.

Book Your Virtual Reality Movie Ticket

When you’re seated in our Virtual Reality Theater, your 3D headset will transport you to a 360° depiction of the St. Louis riverfront in the 1850s. You’ll be immersed in the sights and sounds of the bustling levee, and will learn the stories of some of the diverse people who crossed paths there.

Pricing: Adults: $10
Children (3-15): $8

Purchase Tickets

Deciption of 1850's St. Louis riverfront, with boats on the Mississippi River levee, people standing and talking while men are work hauling cargo from the boats.
Depiction of the 1850's era St. Louis riverfront. Scene contains four ships docked on the Mississippi River levee, with cargo and people standing on the cobblestones of the levee. On the far right of the screen is a row non-descript buildings.

Travel back in time to the St. Louis Mississippi River levee of the 1850s.

In Cobblestones & Courage, you’ll witness how the St. Louis riverfront served as an important crossroads for America’s westward migration. Watch as steamboats deliver travelers and goods from around the world. And hear the stories of courage, struggle, and hopes of some of the real people who crossed paths there.

Virtual reality image of John Parker, a 42 year old African American man against a brick wall in a white shirt and denim overalls.

John Parker

John Parker is a 42-year-old African American who has worked as a steamboat hand since he was a boy. Although his wife and children are free, he remains enslaved. His enslaver hires him out and John manages to keep a portion of his earnings that he plans to use to buy his freedom.

Anna Horman, a 4o year old women in a brown and white checkered dress and a yellow and red bonnet is reaching behin her with her hand out to her daughter as they are walking the ramp off a steamboat on the Mississippi River.

Anna Hormann

Anna, age 40, her husband and their two children are immigrants from the town of Bremen, Germany. They came to St. Louis to stay with Anna's family who arrived several years earlier. Anna didn't expect St. Louis to be such a big city and is worried her children will get lost.

A group of men, including Jame B. Eads are standing on the Mississippi River Levee in St. Louis, MO talking.

James B. Eads

James B. Eads was born in Indiana in 1820, and came to St. Louis when he was 13. He was brilliant and curious, and at 22 started his own salvage company on the Mississippi River.

What to Expect

Our 10-minute virtual reality movie will transport visitors to the 1850s where they will find themselves immersed in a simulated visual and auditory environment. During the experience each visitor will remain seated in our Virtual Reality Theater located in the tram lobby outside the Arch Store.

The Cobblestones & Courage experience is designed for ages 5 and older.

Pricing: Adults: $10
Children (3-15): $8
Advance reservations are encouraged as tickets sell out early and often.

For information about tickets for groups of 20 or more please contact, [email protected].

Buy Tickets Buy a Combo Ticket

Plan Your Visit

Ready to explore the sights above and stories below at Gateway Arch National Park? Here are some helpful pointers to make the most of your visit.

  • Before You Go

    Book Tram, Virtual Reality Theater, and Movie Tickets in Advance

    While you are visiting the free museum, take a Tram Ride to the Top, experience the 1850s riverfront in virtual reality, and watch the award-winning documentary about the building of the Gateway Arch. Tram tickets sell out early and often, so buy your tickets ahead of time. The time listed on your ticket is when you need to be at the tram or theatre entrance.

  • Example Day at the Gateway Arch

    8:30 AM Park Your Car

    Our preferred parking lot is open at the Stadium East Parking Garage. Give yourself enough time to select a spot and make your way to Gateway Arch National Park. Pre-paid parking may also be purchased in advance.

  • 9:00 AM Head to the Security Screen Line

    As a National Park Service site, Gateway Arch National Park requires all visitors to enter through security. Give yourself and your guests at least 30 minutes to get through security screening at the entrance. The Gateway Arch entrance faces Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse.

  • 9:30 AM Visit the Free Museum

    The stories below are just as magnificent as the sights above! Before you make your way to your scheduled tram ride or documentary viewing, set aside an hour or more to browse the free world-class museum, featuring six interactive galleries detailing over 200 years of St. Louis and American history and how the Gateway Arch came to be.

  • 11:00 AM Experience the 1850s Riverfront in our Virtual Reality Theater

    Find yourself immersed in multiple perspectives of what it was like in the 1850s on the St. Louis Riverfront in our virtual reality theater, located just outside the Arch Store in the tram lobby.

  • 11:30 AM Grab Lunch at the Arch Café

    Enjoy lunch during your visit. The Arch Café offers everything from St. Louis ribs, burgers, paninis and toasted ravioli to vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as a coffee bar. The Café is open during regular hours.

  • 12:00 PM Watch an Award-Winning Documentary

    Share in the triumphs and struggles of the making of the Gateway to the West with the "Monument to the Dream" documentary located in Tucker Theater. The 35-minute film describes the details behind Eero Saarinen’s design, compelling stories from the builders and the lasting impact the Gateway Arch leaves on the St. Louis community today.

  • 12:50 PM Take the Tram to the Top

    Make your way to the tram entrance just past the museum to make your journey to the top of the Gateway Arch. A tour guide will assist you through interactive, pre-boarding exhibits before you take your trip to the top and take in all the breath-taking views 630 feet above the city.

  • 1:30 PM Shop at the Arch Store

    Stop by the Arch Store on your way out. Pick up a souvenir to remember your visit or choose from a unique collection of gifts, apparel, books and more.

  • 1:45 PM Take a Walk Through the Park

    The sights continue after your ride to the top. Extend your day at Gateway Arch National Park by spending time in our 91-acre park along the Mississippi River or learn about the Old Courthouse.

    Please Note: The Old Courthouse is temporarily unavailable due to renovations.

Riverboat on the Mississippi River with the St. Louis skyline and Gateway Arch in the background.

Have more time to Explore the St. Louis Riverfront?

Enjoy some of the best views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis’ working riverfront on a riverboat cruise. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic dinner, a relaxing tour, or a floating party with live music and dancing, we have a cruise to suit your interests.

Find A Cruise

The Virtual Reality Theater is operated by Jefferson National Parks Association (JNPA), a non-profit partner of Gateway Arch National Park. JNPA helps people enjoy, learn about, and support their national parks and public lands. As a non-profit organization, JNPA provides for engaging and educational experiences at the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse. JNPA also operates The Arch Store within the Arch visitor center, where visitors can purchase items relating to the Arch and to the historical themes presented in the museum.