Home Up


Tuesday, April 11

Land Between the Lakes, St. Louis

Don Partain was one of the helpful people we ran into at the Land Between the Lakes. This is Don in his planetarium at the Golden Pond Visitor Center.

Timing is everything.

Thomas Eads completed his masterpiece in 1874. Made of a revolutionary new material, cast steel, with three spans, the middle, 520 feet, and the other two 500 ft. each, Eads' bridge spanned the Mississippi River in St. Louis. The railroads could now cross the country using the same routes settlers had used for a hundred plus years.

St. Louis' problem was that the railroads had long since found an alternative solution. With no reasonable option for getting trains from one side of the river to another in St. Louis, the railroads selected Chicago as their hub.

St. Louis, with it's impossible to cross river, had been left behind.

The purple plant in front of Eads' bridge is called "red bud." This was explained by some helpful docents in the Visitor's center in Land between the Lakes, a beautiful national reserve between Kentucky and Tennessee. It only blooms for a few days each year, and we were able to see it from Tennessee to St. Louis. So, our timing may have been a bit better than 1870s St. Louis...

The Gateway Arch is St. Louis' centerpiece attraction. Completed in the mid-60s, it is 630 feet tall, covered in stainless steel. Small 5 passenger egg-shaped cars carry visitors inside the structure to the top in a four minute trip that is not for the claustrophobic. At the top of the arch is a small observation platform with tiny windows looking across the Mississippi on one side, and over St. Louis on the other.

Not to be missed is a period documentary (shot during construction in the 60s), which explains how the Arch was developed and built.


Last Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2006 4:38 PM