Saturday, May 29, 2010

And More St. Louis-Union Station, The Arch, St. Charles, Melvin Price Lock and Dam and Jefferson Barracks

Union Station opened in 1894 and closed in 1978. When it opened it was the world's largest and busiest train station and its trainshed had the largest roof span in the world. The clock tower is over 200 feet tall.

The gold-leafed Grand Hall with its Romanesque Arches and 65 ft ceiling still looks elegant and has been restored to what it was when it was built.

Below the Grand Hall there were 41 tracks and at one time over 22 different railroad companies who used this station. This is a picture of what the passenger terminal was like in its hey dey. In the 1940s it could handle 100,000 passengers a day, but passenger service started declining in the 1950s and 1960s, and after Amtrak took over all passenger service there were only 3 trains who serviced St. Louis. In the 1970s this was not enough to maintain the buildings and the station was closed. It was reopened in 1985 with a hotel, shopping mall, restaurants and food court.


A few blocks further east is the Mississippi River. The river front road was closed due to high water.

Eads Bridge was built in 1874 and at the time was the longest bridge in the world. The designer and builder, James Eads, was the first bridge builder to use the cantilever design. The bridge, still in use today, was important for providing transportation, other than boat, across the Mississippi River.

That small, black tip sticking above the water is actually the top of a statue of Lewis and Clark.

Here is what the statue looks like when it isn't under water. Even this photo, taken several years ago, has water lapping at the foot of the statue. Does it always flood in St. Louis?

Here Max and I are in the egg (as I call it), heading to the top of the arch.

Looking down 630 feet to the river. The Arch is 630 feet wide at the base, as well as 630 feet tall, making it the tallest monument in the U.S. Note what looks like a small platform in the water on the right side.

It is actually a viewing platform next to the river with the road between it and the arch. As you could see from the previous picture, it was all under water. This photo is from several years earlier.

This is taken from the west side of the historical court house, looking east towards the arch. The court house is now a museum.

A bronze tribute to St. Louis jazz.

A few blocks a way is the old historic district, now comprised mostly restaurants and small shops.

About 15 miles NW is St. Charles, on the Missouri River. It was where Meriweather Lewis joined up with William Clark for the Corps of Discovery.

This is a replica of the keelboat Lewis and Clark used to venture up river. Every few years they put it in the water and take the boat up river a ways.

I think their garden got washed out.

The driftwood hit this walkway while we were standing close by. You can see it shattered the first few boards. I wouldn't want to be out in any kind of boat in that flooding water.

St. Charles was celebrating the anniversary of Lewis and Clarks departure, which was 206 years ago, on May 16, 1804. Luckily we were visiting on May 16 and got to participate in the festivities.

Old downtown St. Charles. In 1804, when Lewis and Clark were there, only about 20 families actually lived in the town. But by 1820 blocks of buildings like these had sprung up and the town was flourishing.

On another day we visited the Melvin Price Lock and Dam on the Missouri River. It was opened in 1994, after replacing a previous dam demolished in 1990.

I am standing, several stories up, next to the high water mark of the 1993 flood.

Here is a photo of the dam in 1993, still not completed, mostly underwater.

Jefferson Barracks is now a city park in south St. Louis. Originally established in 1826 as an infantry school of practice, it was a major military installation until 1946. It served as a gathering point for troops and supplies for the Mexican War, Civil War, various Indian conflicts, the Spanish-American War, Philippine War, World War I and World War II. There is now a museum, a memorial and a National Cemetary. Some of the older buildings are still being used as an Army Guard Base. But most of the location is now a city park.

Although I took lots more pictures and I'm sure I haven't mentioned everything I did while in St. Louis, I think you probably got a feel for how busy I was. Remember I was only there one week. It was a great stop and I would love to go back and do more exploring.

More St. Louis-Forest Park, Fast Eddy's, Confluence Park and Chain of Rocks

Forest Park was the site of the 1904 World's Fair. It is now a city park housing the zoo, an art museum, a history museum, a science museum, a golf course and city park.
This is the Museum of Art today. It is said to be the only building still standing from the World's Fair of 1904.

Here is a picture of what the World's Fair looked like in 1904. Driving around the grounds today it is hard to imagine what it would have been like with all the luxurious buildings which were built for the World's Fair.

The St. Louis Zoo is free and is a very good zoo. I'm sure we did not see all of it and we spent several hours there. This leopard was just enjoying the sun and watching the people as we were watching him.

I didn't know camels lost their hair in the spring. This one looks like something out of one of Steven Spielburg's animated movies. Maybe this is where he gets his inspiration.

I guess the leaves up higher are more tender.

At first no one could figure out what the orangutangs were eating, but it was popsicles, frozen in water bottles.

Fast Eddy's is an eatery where you have to experience to understand. Even on a rainy day it was standing room only, even outside. Although it really is a bar, and you have to be 21 to enter, they do serve food. Half pound hamburgers are $.99. Shrimp are $.25 each. And their drinks are even reasonable. They believe quantity is better than high prices.

About 30 of us descended on the place one rainy afternoon.

From the outside it doesn't look like much...

More of our group.

But is really quite spacious. This is outside with a canopy. They have live music in the afternoons and evenings. I would hate to be there when it was crowded.

Confluence Point is where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi. This picture is how it should look normally.

But with all the rains, this is how it looked the day we were there. Both rivers were above flood stage. The point is actually out beyond the trees.

When it is not flooded, you can walk right out to the point. This picture was taken by Max several years ago.

Chain of Rocks Bridge is the old Route 66 Highway. Today it is a pedestrian and biking trail only. It is called Chain of Rocks because of the limestone ridge which runs across the river. Because it kept boats from traversing upstream, this is one of the first places where a canal was built for ships to go around.

Again, much of the area was underwater because of the flooding.

On one side of the river you are in Missouri and the other side of the bridge you are in Illinois.

Some memorabilia along the mile long bridge.

That is supposed to be a parking lot, but now it is underwater.

These were built about 1910 and were used for water intake for the city of St. Louis.

St. Louis

Although I was only in St. Louis a week, looking back at all I did, I feel like I was there for a month. So, I am breaking my blog into several pieces. This one will cover a cathedral, a Lewis and Clark historical site, Cahokia Mounds and a brewery.
Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

For 70 years they created these beautiful mosiacs

The cathedral was completed in 1914, although the mosiac was started in 1912 and not completed until 1988. Over 41.5 million pieces of glass and 83,000 square feet are covered in mosaics, making this one of the largest mosaic collections in the world.

The cathedral itself was impressive in its design, ornate beauty and decoration.

But the intricate mosaic work was spectacular. Friends that have been to Rome say this easily compares with what they saw.

Outside St. Louis is a replica of Camp Dubois. This is supposed to be the site Lewis and Clark spent the winter of 1804 preparing for their epic journey north along the Missouri river on their way to the Pacific coast. Although never having found actual remains of a fort, from the journals it is believed to have been located in this area. The Lewis and Clark museum was quite good, too. It is from this place they left on May 16, 1804, on their Corps of Discovery.

Cahokia Mounds, east of St. Louis just across the river into Illinois, was once the largest city in America, north of Mexico. From about 700-1200 it was a bustling, thriving community, which at its height, had possibly up to 40,000 people. The mound above was the largest and on it lived the ruler, the elite and some ceremonial buildings. In 1250 A.D., Cahokia was larger than London, England.

Surrounding this main mound, which was 10 stories high and 4 levels, was a walled compound comprising 150 acres. But most of the common people lived outside the walls. It was a complex society where people specialized in jobs, trade and barter were common, and farming was a way of life. Off in the distance you can see another mound. So far they have identified over 120 mounds in about a 7000 acre area. Some mounds were burial mounds, others ceremonial mounds, and some were just community buildings.

Here is a view of how the mound looked during its use.

Climbing up to the top. The base of this mound covers 14 acres. All the dirt needed to build up this mound was hauled in. I'm glad I didn't have to be on that labor gang.

You can even see the St. Louis Arch in the distance.

Anheuser Busch started in St. Louis in 1852. Even during prohibition they continued to operate, producing a non-alcoholic beverage and some other products. They have been in continuous operation since.

Famous for their Clydesdales, I enjoyed watching these nibble at the tree leaves.

Some of St. Louis' oldest buildings are found right here at the brewery.

I liked this since Michelob is my favorite beer. Before prohibition brewerys were allowed to own and operate their own taverns, so the Michelob Tavern was opened in the late 1890s. Originally available only in draft and made with the finest ingredients, Michelob was the brewery's finest beer. Michelob was not available in bottles until 1961.

I kept seeing this picture throughout the plant. Still don't know exactly who she was or what she represents.

This is Bevo, the mascot and trademark for their non-alcoholic drinks.
Busch was the first brewer to use artificial refrigeration, freeing him from the limitation of storing his beer in caves. The brewer was also the first to implement a national transportation system by shipping their beer in refrigerated cars and establishing railside ice houses.