This article was originally published on June 30, 2012 and has been retrieved via the Wayback Machine.
If you’re traveling on the Manchester alignment of Route 66 through St. Louis County and are in the mood for a short, easy bike ride or a walk for you or a canine companion, try the Rogers Parkway in Brentwood, Missouri. Brentwood is a small city but has a lot of little parks, most with water, some with restrooms. You’ll pass through several during the route I’m about to describe. You won’t see anything spectacular, but you’ll enjoy charming older suburban neighborhoods with large trees and pleasant shade. The trail is pet-friendly with plastic bag dispensers for waste and a water fountain with a basin at dog’s height. If you don’t know the area well you’ll want to download and print out this map to take with you.
If you’re traveling west on Manchester, start looking for the trailhead shortly after you cross over Hanley Road. The trailhead will be on the right, in between American Locksmiths and Brentwood Place Apartments. You’ll find an asphalt trail heading north that takes you to Broughton Park. Follow the trail until you reach Swim Club Road, where you’ll cross over to the other side of the street.
Continue until you get to an intersection of asphalt trails. Turn right, and you’ll pass some handball, tennis, and volleyball courts. This is Hanley Park. You’ll see some signs along the way suggesting different fitness exercises that you can do if you like. The trail splits in two, and the more interesting route is to the right. You’ll cross a creek and follow along it for awhile on the Lee Wynn Trail until you get to Oak Tree Park. If you feel like doing some hill climbing, you can continue past the park and up a ridge to explore the streets a bit. If you’re not in the mood for climbing a hill, head back the way you came until you get past Hanley Park and back to the intersection. You can turn left here and get back on the Rogers Parkway, or you can turn right and continue for a short distance into Memorial Park. If you’re hungry or thirsty, there is usually a snack stand set up here. If you care to head toward the huge American flag toward the northeast, you’ll come across a large shopping center that has a Trader Joe’s and a Target, both places where you can pick up some items for a picnic lunch. (If you turn right at the huge flag and continue for a few blocks, you’ll see some light rail tracks – turn left and there is the Brentwood I-64 Metrolink station if you want to explore more of the St. Louis area – bring your bike on board). If you don’t want anything from the shopping center, I recommend turning around in Memorial Park and heading back the way you came at this point – you’re roughly 2/3 of the way through the entire route if you’ve taken no detours.
If you’re on foot, you’re probably satisfied with the length of your excursion, but if you want a little more, you’ll notice some dirt trails on the right as you head back. Explore the small wooded area if you like.
If you’re on a bike, you might want to extend your ride considerably. If so, I recommend looking for Eulalie Ave. (this is the spot where you crossed the road previously upon reaching Swim Club Road) on the way back. It’s a little confusing because if you look left, the road is called Dorothy and if you look right, the sign is missing. Nevertheless, take a right turn and you’ll come to an intersection with Brentwood Blvd. Use the light and cross Brentwood Blvd. here with care – it’s very busy and the drivers are not necessarily attentive to cyclists or pedestrians.
Once you’ve crossed Brentwood Blvd., continue west on what is now Litzinger Rd. Look for four Lustron houses on your left. Continue for several blocks on Litzinger until you get to Tilles Park, a large park in the city of Ladue with a nice trail, more fitness stations, water, restrooms and more. There is a small lake with a shelter if you’ve brought a picnic lunch. Go around the park as many times as you like, then head back to Brentwood Blvd. on Litzinger and cross back over. Make a right when you reach Rogers Parkway and you’ll be back to the trailhead shortly.
Castlewood State Park is located along the Meramec River in the southwest portion of St. Louis County between the Manchester and I-44 alignments of Route 66. Parts of the park lay on either side of the Meramec River. The part that lies north of the Meramec River is accessible by car south of the Manchester alignment of Route 66 and includes one of the most scenic views in all of St. Louis County. The photos above were taken from the River Scene Trail.
In the days before air conditioning, one way people used to cope with the heat was by visiting swimming beaches at the numerous rivers in the region. Caves were popular too. Route 66 fans will recognize the names of the fun places “Times Beach”, “Sylvan Beach”, Meramec Caverns”, “Stonydell” and Joplin’s “Lakeside Park”. Fort Bellefontaine County Park was formerly such a destination – the area that is now Castlewood State Park was another.
According to the book “Walks & Rambles in and around St. Louis” by Robert Rubright, the heyday of Castlewood as a resort was from 1915-1950. The swimming beach was washed away by the river in 1945. Some other amenities such as clubhouses, nightclubs and taverns persisted a bit longer. The state of Missouri converted the land to a park in 1979. Signs at the park indicate that while swimming in the Meramec River is not forbidden, it’s not encouraged either and is something to undertake at one’s own risk. Drownings do occur here so be careful.
The River Scene trail is so nice that I have explored very few other areas of the park despite many visits. I need to correct that oversight! There is a steep climb to the top of the bluff but after that the trail is not too difficult because it is mostly flat or downhill. You will have to watch your footing because the trail is rocky in spots and it’s possible to trip on tree roots. Sturdy hiking boots and a walking stick are helpful for safety and comfort. There are multiple scenic overlooks, historic ruins from the resort days and a well-traveled railroad corridor to see along the way. Rail fans will normally get a chance to see a train or two while hiking here and a portion of the trail even goes under the railroad bed in a cool tunnel.
As you can see from this map, the portion of the park that is South of the Meramec River is accessible only by hiking, biking or by horseback. You can take a trail to Castlewood from either West Tyson County Park or Lone Elk County Park.
It’s not shown on this map how it connects but if you take the Stinging Nettle Loop at the base of the bluff, you can follow that trail westward to a portion of the Meramec Greenway, Sherman Beach County Park and the Al Foster Trail which begins in Glencoe. You can also take a side trip on the Rock Hollow Trail, also known as the “Zombie Road”. The Stinging Nettle Loop is great for mountain bikers like me who are pretty much at the beginner level. There are some hills but they are not too high and if you fall you’ll probably land on dirt most of the time. I took a minor fall and didn’t get hurt. More challenging trails that I have not worked up to trying on a bike yet are in the area if you’re up for it. If you are getting the impression that you can spend days or weeks here exploring all the trails that connect near here you are probably right! Bring maps because it can get confusing!
The Interstate 44 / Historic Route 66 corridor southwest of the St. Louis, Missouri metro area is an embarrassment of riches for outdoor enthusiasts. Opportunities for bicycling, hiking, boating, camping, fishing, bird watching and many other outdoor activities are easily available to Route 66 enthusiasts who want to take a healthy break from driving a motorized vehicle. Route 66 State Park is a must-see for the Route 66 fan but there are abundant other interesting choices for outdoor recreation in the area, many with historic connections to Route 66. Route 66 State Park is a great choice for flat walking and biking trails. If you’re in the mood for some hills, take a look at West Tyson County Park. You’ll see the entrance to this park on the way to Route 66 State Park if you take the Lewis Road exit (#266) off of Interstate 44.
Last weekend I parked at the trailhead for the Flint Quarry Trail loop and started my hike. It was supposed to be about three miles, but there are lots of connector trails to other trails and other parks in the area and I was on another trail for some of the time and ended up hiking just under five miles. All the connectors make this trail kind of confusing, so be sure to have a map with you when you set out. Some of the twists and turns on this trail are extreme which makes it pretty easy to see where you are on the map. Without a map I would have felt apprehensive and it’s possible I would have gotten lost. While the trail is hilly and rocky, the switchbacks are really well done and the climbs tend to be broken up into short segments so I didn’t find it overly strenuous. Besides a map and your normal hiking safety gear, I recommend at least two bottles of water – more if you have room, in case you get off the trail – hiking boots with ankle support and a walking stick to make this hike comfortable and safe. The trails in this area are used by mountain bikers and horseback riders, so be alert and give them room to pass.
The main natural attractions on this trail are scenic views from the ridge tops, beautiful forest and intriguing rocky outcrops which were once mined by Native Americans to make stone tools. If you’re into the hobby of letterboxing, there are some man-made attractions here too for you to try to find. I searched for four letterboxes during my hike and actually found one. That’s typical of my usual ratio I must admit!
On the restroom / shower building at the trailhead is mounted this commemorative plaque which marks the transfer of ownership of a portion of the park land from the Federal government to St. Louis County. Like many parks in the St. Louis area, West Tyson’s history includes military use in WWII. The tract known as Tyson Valley Park was reclaimed by the U.S. Military in 1951 for use in the Korean War effort and repurchased by St. Louis County in 1963. The article “The Tyson Valley Area” by Conor Watkins helps explain who owned what when and is a great overview of the history and recreational opportunities in the area surrounding West Tyson.
The Henry Shaw Gardenway has its origin in the founding of the Missouri Botanical Garden Arboretum, popularly known as “Shaw’s Arboretum” as the garden itself is popularly known as “Shaw’s Garden”. In 1923 Missouri Botanical Garden purchased land in Gray Summit, MO to house plants that were in danger from St. Louis city pollution. In 2000, this land was renamed “Shaw Nature Reserve” and is a great place to hike and view nature.
In 1935, a portion of Route 66 from the St. Louis city limits to the arboretum in Gray Summit was dedicated as the Henry Shaw Gardenway. The well-known Route 66 landmark Jensen’s Point in Pacific was named after Lars Peter Jensen, president of the Henry Shaw Gardenway Association. It’s difficult to find much more information about the Henry Shaw Gardenway other than it existed and another remnant, a stone bus stop, is now located in the Shaw Nature Reserve. The CCC participated in highway beautification programs throughout the country in the 1930’s and the Henry Shaw Gardenway was one of the roads enhanced by their efforts. Blackburn Park in Pacific is another landmark extant on the Gardenway that I know of. It’s an intriguing part of Route 66 history that I want to know more about.
The Henry Shaw Ozark Gardenway was/is a modern-era organization with the mission of preserving the Ozark foothills along Interstate 44 and promoting maintenance and expansion of the Ozark Corridor series of parks. Their web site is not currently functioning and I don’t know if it’s still in existence. There is a great map of natural resources along the corridor here – Henry Shaw Ozark Corridor.
In my tutorial “Scrapbooking My Way on the Highway” I explained why I chose an 8.5 x 11 inch page format for my Route 66 scrapbooks and described how 3-ring binders help me to arrange my photographs by geographic order rather than time order. I’ve taken a lot of Route 66 trips and plan to do more in the future, so I like to be able to insert pages from the same area next to pages from an earlier trip. This practice helps me to learn the geography of the road and to document how it changes over time.
When you mount standard-sized photos on an 8.5 x 11 inch page, you are left with a lot of empty areas to fill. This is not necessarily a bad thing because as a result there is ample room on the pages for journaling and small ephemera. Lately I’ve been experimenting with another way to fill those empty spots – with small photos.
There are online companies that specialize in printing 2 x 2 inch photos from your social media accounts. I decided to try out the services of Social Print Studio to see how such photos look in my existing albums.
In the image at the top of this article, I have mixed the white-bordered 2 x 2 prints from Social Print Studio with standard sized-photos on two scrapbook pages that show places and events in the Lebanon, Missouri area. I’m really happy with the results – these small photos really help me use the space more efficiently and the white borders look terrific on colored cardstock.
I also tried using Photoshop to make montages of photos for printing in a 4 x 6 format. This is a great way to print photos from social media that are not of a high enough resolution to print in a standard size. The tiny photo at the lower left was taken from Facebook. Yes it’s small but it’s better than not having it at all! This is a great way to obtain a bunch of small photos to fill in gaps for a very reasonable price! Just cut the montage prints apart and fit the tiny photos in among the larger photos.
The image below shows two more pages that utilize the 2 x 2 photos from Social Print Studio. I like to mix emphemera in my albums and I have a lot of brochures and brochure-sized items displayed in pockets. On an 8 x 11 inch page, after I install the pocket there is no room for a standard sized photo but as you can see there is room for 6 small photos!
Here is a press release about an endangered historic bridge on Route 66 in Missouri:
“Hazelgreen, MO: Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world will gather at 3:00 p.m. at the west end of the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, MO on Saturday, March 14 to voice their support for a Missouri Route 66 and Ozarks icon, that being the bridge across the Gasconade River in Laclede County, Missouri. This ever-growing group of organizations and concerned individuals has worked tirelessly to save this bridge, including, at this point, seeking to have the bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over 200 people are expected to attend the rally. Having recently received notification that the bridge is indeed eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society (LL66), a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has come forward as this group’s supporting organization moving forward.
Following the 3:00 p.m. rally, attendees will meet with other activists, historic preservationists, members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, Laclede County Government Officials and officials from the state to discuss the Gasconade River Bridge and what can be done to save this historic structure. This meeting will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, located at 915 S. Jefferson St. Everyone with questions, specific interests, or desired involvement in the bridge is welcome to attend. The intent of the meeting is to discuss plans of action, forming of a committee, and discussion of any developments or findings since the last rally in December 2014.
Despite the fact that it was relatively short-lived as a highway, US Highway 66 (Route 66) is, without a doubt, the most famous road in America. It is important in the history of US transportation as the first national highway linking Chicago and Los Angeles, but its significance in American history is much more far-reaching. Route 66 is symbolic of the major changes in American life during the first half of the 20th Century. These changes included the proliferation of automobiles, the development of roadside culture, and the westward migration of Americans during the depression and post-war years. However, more than anything else, Route 66, the Main Street of America, the Mother Road, has become an icon of progress, hope, opportunity and adventure in America.
One of the reasons Route 66 is such a strong visual and physical experience is because of the way it was designed and engineered. Unlike new interstate highways, which are more efficient and meant to handle thousands of cars at high speeds, Route 66 has a more human scale, and as a result, people feel more physically connected to it. It is narrower, tends to have grassy shoulders (which means less pavement) and motorists can drive it more slowly without slowing the flow of traffic. As a result, the landscape unfolds instead of whisks past.
Scenic Byway Routes like Missouri Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but also as a way to promote desirable forms of tourism and increase income in regions. Foreign and domestic tourists alike are interested in visiting the various points of interest, and the natural wonders of the physical and cultural environment offered along the Missouri Route 66 Corridor. Economic development opportunities in the Laclede County Route 66 Corridor are greatly based on corridor travel experience, as well as land uses and infill opportunities in the various communities.
Intact bridges may be contributing features of large historic landscapes, or may be considered as individual resources. Intact bridges and individual sections of roadway may be representative of early engineering, workmanship and changes in road-building techniques during the period of significance, and of common patterns of use. These resources are important as tangible links with specific events and emerging technologies, such as completion of the first stretch of 4-lane highway Route 66 in Missouri, as well as for their overall role in the development of the highway system. The presence of intact historic roadways and bridges can also serve to strengthen connections between other types of resources, such as landscapes and groups of buildings.
The Gasconade River Bridge is significant because of its actual experience of the road, the kinesthetic experience that is dependent upon a sense of place created by intact landscapes as a contributing property along Route 66.
The Gasconade River Bridge has the ability to evoke a sense of place and experience. This historic structure, dating to 1924, is fully intact and reflects its period of significance, making it a perfect candidate for the National Register of Historic Places. The goal of this group of concerned citizens, passionate Route 66 enthusiasts/preservationists is to ensure the restoration and preservation of this historic Route 66 Bridge.
“This bridge personifies Route 66 through the Ozark region,” states Roamin’ Rich Dinkela. “Even if you’ve never heard of Route 66 you know when you see this bridge that you’re seeing a living part of history. Much like the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, this structure reels in people from all over the world. I know it sounds crazy, but people young and old have a hunger for history. What will they learn about if this bridge and others like it are replaced with homogenized, sterilized, lifeless concrete structures? Nothing! They’ll see it in a book and wish they could have experienced it. As they thirst for more knowledge about our historical byways, they will gravitate toward the regions that make preservation a priority. We can do this; we can save this bridge.”
Tens of thousands of tourists, mostly traveling abroad from other continents, descend upon the Mother Road ANNUALLY to live and experience the past. To these tourists, it’s the dream of a lifetime. Replacing the bridge with a modern structure would alter the canvas of Route 66 through the Ozarks, consequently interrupting that dream. According to a Rutgers University study released in 2012, more than 5 million people live and work along Route 66, more than 85% of Route 66 tourists visit historic places and spend over $38 million a year in Route 66 communities! Route 66 tourism boasts annual gains of $262 million in overall output. Our historic landmarks and pieces of infrastructure such as the Gasconade River Bridge should be kept available for tourists to experience.
Samples of testimony from around the world:
Anja and Wolfgang Werz (Germany): “Several thousand tourists from Germany traveled each year the Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. An important reason for them is to ride on the trail of American history, including historic bridges such as the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen, MO. If all the historic attractions of Route 66 are gradually removed, it is for the tourists no longer interesting to come to the U.S. and travel The Route 66.”
Monique and Willem Bor (Netherlands): “Many tourists from the Netherlands like to drive the Route 66 and see all the old buildings, bridges and stretches off Route 66. Please be careful with the remaining attractions because else tourist will no longer be interested in Route 66. Lately many old motels are disappearing, they were demolished or they burned down. Preservation is very important so… preserve the historic Gasconade Bridge!! Be proud of what’s still there!”
Publicity is the most instrument force we can ask for. We want to make sure our community is seen and heard. Missouri’s historic infrastructure is important, and right now it’s in the most critical condition. Our leaders need to recognize the need for maintenance and preservation of our aging highway system. While we still have these historical structures around, it’s imperative we preserve them for the sake of our growing communities. It’s not just a bridge, it’s not just a road, it’s a landmark. People tell stories about it, pay thousands of dollars, fly thousands of miles to see it, and they marvel over it. What will we leave behind for our children? Help us fix our historic structures. Help us get the attention of Jefferson City and Washington DC. We look forward to seeing you at the rally!
Laumeier Sculpture Park is located just off the Watson Road alignment of Route 66 in South St. Louis County. If you’re heading west, make a right turn on Geyer Road just before you reach Interstate 270 and you’ll see the park entrance shortly. If you’re looking for a place to pull of the road for a little while for a walk or a picnic, this park is ideal.
You can stroll on nature trails and open grassy areas while viewing a variety of outdoor sculpture. Bring the kids, because there are many art works that are meant to be climbed on or interacted with in some way, some designed specifically for younger visitors. Also bring your dogs – there is a series of six sculptures that is designed partly to make you think about the relationship between dogs and humans, and partly to provide an interactive activity area for dogs. There are even special sights and sounds to appeal to canine senses!
On a recent visit I spent about an hour and a half exploring the park on foot at a fairly leisurely pace and saw many but not all of the sculptures. I think Route 66 fans, who are usually partial to ruins, will especially enjoy “Pool Complex: Orchard Valley” by Mary Miss. This site-specific work consists of wood add-ons surrounding the ruins of a large swimming pool which incorporates the type of regional native rock work that Missouri Route 66 aficionados are so familiar with. See a short video about the work here. There is also a historic spring house in the park which is an unaltered example of the same type of beautiful stone construction.
I’m the editor and co-owner of the web site Sell66stuff.com, which was created to help increase commerce on Historic Route 66 by bringing the right products together with the right buyers.
I did a lot of updating on the Sell66stuff.com vendor guide over the last few days. Any businesses with Route 66 related merchandise you want to find an outlet for, check it out! http://www.sell66stuff.com/vendor_guide.html