Wednesday, May 24, 2023

2021-04-01: Cruising Route 66 Through Kansas and Oklahoma on Day 10 of Our 3400 Mile Roadtrip Adventure

Today was a very busy day. We continued to follow the historical Route 66 through the corner of Kansas and all the way down to Oklahoma City. There were many roadside attractions to see, many geocaches to find, and some new counties to get, and we tried to visit as many as we could. But we still had to put some miles behind us as our goal is to eventually get down into Texas for the next work project. So join us in the GeoJeep while we share the history and photos from "The Mother Road."

After leaving Joplin with coffee and breakfast, our first geocaching stop was in Kansas... wait no... Oklahoma... or is it Missouri? I guess it depends on where you stand, or park, or... well you get the idea. The virtual geocache (GC6F6D) technically is located in Oklahoma. The stone monument you see was erected in 1938 to mark the spot determined way back in 1857 as the Tri-State intersection. Sadly it had been vandalized, graffitied, and the original plaques stolen. Over the years it had been determined that the monument was off by 50 feet. In 2004, the Missouri Association of County Surveyors rectified the error with a "stand-in-three-states" plaque on the ground marking the correct location. I think this is my third tri-state corner marker that I've been to.

Ok, now that we've got that out of the way... back to Route 66. We stopped for three caches in Cherokee County, Kansas. A quick cemetery geocache (GC497WV) in Galena. A roadside park (GC85F4E) in Riverton highlighting the rather short stretch of Route 66 which passes through Kansas.

Then back over to the original Route 66 alignment and another old historical bridge. Built in 1923 as part of the Jefferson Highway, three years before the US-66 designation, the Rainbow Bridge is a concrete arch bridge and spans 130 feet across Bush Creek. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and is the only one like it within the entire state of Kansas.

And finally a virtual geocache (GCBBF6) at the historical marker for Baxter Springs. Also here in Baxter Springs is this restored old gas station which is now used as the Route 66 Visitors Center. Built in 1930 by The Independent Oil and Gas Company, it was purchased by Phillips 66 Petroleum Company later that year. The original brick house style was modified in the 1940's to an "L" shape adding on a garage for service repairs. The gas station was in use up until the 1970's. After restoration, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Route 66 enters Oklahoma into Ottawa County. Passing through the town of Commerce, I saw this little Marathon gas station which was built in 1927. They don't sell gas anymore. But they do sell cookies, candies, and other tasty treats. We resisted the urge to step inside and only left with a photo.

A couple of blocks to the south is the Hole-in-the-Wall gas station. This Conoco Station was built out from a wall of another business in 1929/30. It now serves as a Route 66 Gift Shop.

Following the Mother Road south through Miami, we found this rather unique older section of the original highway. With the early age of automobile travel in the 1900's, Oklahoma began improving the Ozark Trails turning them into an "Auto Trails" system of roadways connecting small rural towns. Working with very tight budgets while trying to still get the distance needed, they paved what came to be known as "Ribbon Road" or "Sidewalk Highway." (GC2ZXEE)

Kinda hard to tell from this photo, but it's basically a one lane paved road that's 9-feet wide with 5-feet wide gravel shoulders. Completed in 1922 as Federal Highway Project No. 8, four years prior to the Route 66 designation. Running from Miami to Afton, this 15.49 miles of narrow road is the only remaining 9-foot section of original pavement on the Old Route 66 system. While it was officially taken out of service in 1937, you can still drive on it today. Just be careful of oncoming traffic!

Passing through Afton, I see these rock walls and stop for a photo. No signs posted and can't find anything online about it. Old gas station? Old store? The ground out front of the sidewalk looks like there may have been gas pumps there. If you know, please leave a comment.

Taking a detour off of Route 66 for a moment, we drove down I-44 to the small Oklahoma town of Big Cabin. Back in my truck driving days passing through here and just as you exit off the interstate at US-69, there's a gigantic Indian Chief statue proudly greeting you as you enter the truck stop. I wanted to stop by here again so that Candy will get an opportunity to see it. Erected on August 9, 2001, the Tall Chief stands at 46 feet and weighs in at 15,500 pounds.

We continued a short drive further south in order to grab another county and a historical virtual geocache (GCFDCD). Just a few miles away in Mayes County is the County Creek Battlefield. Down the backroads through the woods to arrive on a hill with multiple historical markers creating a mental picture of this Civil War battle. On September 18, 1864, a Confederate force of 2,000, mainly General Stand Watie's Indian Brigade, intercepted a Union supply train en-route from Kansas to Fort Gibson. The convoy of 130 wagons worth $1.5 million was captured after a heavy engagement. This was the last Civil War battle in Indian Territory.

Making our way back to continue our drive down Route 66, we arrive in Rogers County. Approaching the town of Chelsea, the historical Pryor Creek Bridge (GC6F24Y) was built in 1926 and carried U.S. Highway 66 traffic from 1926 to 1932, when a new alignment of Route 66 bypassed the bridge.

Once in Chelsea you have to stop for the underground pedestrian bridge (GC6QCMW). Instead of the usual crosswalk from corner to corner, the town built this tunnel to cross Route 66. I guess it was much busier and harder to cross the street back in the day.

A little further down Route 66 and still in Rogers County, we make a stop for the World's Largest Totem Pole as well as a virtual and a traditional geocache (GC9251, GC6M4FJ). Built by Ed Galloway from 1937 to 1948, it stands at 98 feet tall. It was made with 100 tons of sand and rock, 28 tons of cement, and 6 tons of steel. There are 200 carved pictures with four 9 foot indian chiefs at the top.

Our next virtual geocache (GCH7V1) was located in the town of Foyil, just a few more miles down the road. A graduate of Foyil High School, Andrew Hartley Payne (1907-1977) won the 1928 Great Transcontinental Footrace which began in Los Angeles on 3-4-1928 and ended 3,422.3 miles later in New York City 5-26-1928.

Then a short time later we passed this bridge from the 1936 Route 66 alignment. This 24 feet wide bridge replaced the 18 feet wide version from 1925. Now it leads to Molly's Landing Restaurant. I don't think this is the original location of this bridge.

The remains of the Old Route 66 alignment go down the hill to the left from this photo and head down towards the Verdigris River. There's a geocache (GC8H9MC) at the dead end about 1500 feet away from here. There's also an old cemetery up on the hill here. The River Hill Cemetery has about 20 internments dating back to 1882.

Our last geocache for Rogers County was in Catoosa. The Blue Whale (GC4ADE) is a popular Route 66 roadside attraction built by Hugh S. Davis from 1970-72. The Blue Whale is 20 feet tall and 80 feet long and took nearly 3000 hours to build.

Arriving down in Tulsa County, we starting searching for the virtual geocaches in the area. The community of Broken Arrow was named because reeds, found in abundance along streams and riverbeds, were broken to make arrow shafts. The Arkansas Valley Townsite Company chose the site for the town along the proposed MK&T Railroad in September 1902. The first virtual geocache was at Centennial Park (GCEABB) which was dedicated in 2002.

The next virtual geocache was at the Veterans Memorial Park (GCG235). Along with this wall of local veterans, there are two statues dedicated to Major William H. (Hank) Miesner Jr (1939-2003) and Lt. Col. Ernest Childers (1918-2005).

Speaking of memorial parks, we drove a couple of miles away to the Memorial Park Cemetery. It was there we found our next virtual geocache at the gravesite of comedian Sam Kinison (GC48BE). The son of a Pentecostal Preacher, he became a preacher himself at an early age. At age 24, after his first divorce, Kinison gave up preaching and became a comedian. In 1992, he was killed in a car accident when his vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. He was 38 years old.

OK, we don't have time to get to all there is to see in Tulsa. It is already late in the afternoon. So we make our way back to Route 66 and head down into Creek County.

Upon arriving in the town of Sapulpa, our first stop is another virtual geocache at the Sapulpa Trolley and Rail Museum (GCG4JG). The trolley on display here is called the Maggie M., which was built in 1919. The Sapulpa Trolley Company went out of business in 1933. It was donated to the museum in 1997.

The next three geocaches were on the west side heading out of town. There was a letterbox cache at The Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum (GC859VG). Unfortunately, being late in the day, the museum was closed. But the HUGE gas pump outside made for a great roadside attraction and photo ops.

This was followed by the historic Rock Creek Bridge earthcache (GC6Q151). This bridge was built in 1921 to serve the Ozark Trail. It became part of Route 66 in 1926. The bridge was used by motorists traveling "The Mother Road" until a new highway was built to the south of here in 1952.

Then just a few hundred feet down from the bridge was what remains of the Teepee Drive-In Theater (GCG4K2). The drive-in first opened in the 1950's and remained open until the late 90's. At the time of our visit, it was still closed. However, in preparation for writing this blog, I have discovered that the drive-in has been renovated and reopened in the Spring of 2023. And a really cool addition is that along the back row they have several retro RV trailers that can be rented out through Airbnb.

Another geocache in Creek County was at the Magnolia Memorial Gardens Cemetery (GC3AZXC) located just north of Bristow. This cemetery has almost 3,000 internments here dating back to the early 1900's. Most impressive is this 2-story chapel on the grounds.

Our last geocache in Creek County was a roadside attraction called the Route 66 Shoe Tree (GCHPFX). I'm not sure when this started, but it was just a tree along the side of the highway that people tossed their old shoes up and had them hanging from the branches.

Continuing westbound into Lincoln County, our next stop was the Seaba Station in Warwick, Oklahoma. Currently a motorcycle museum, it was originally built in 1924 as a gas station and garage. It stayed in operation serving travelers for many years until 1996. Then the building was restored and the museum opened a few years later in 2000. Unfortunately, the geocache (GC346Y6) was kept indoors and we couldn't sign the logbook after hours.

Now into Oklahoma County. Our next geocache stop (GC4759Y) was located at another historical Route 66 gas station, or what was left of it anyway.  According to the sign: supposedly built in the late teens or early 1920's, before electricity made it out to this rural area. Cold soda pop were only sold on the days when the ice man made it by. Chocolate candy was only sold during the winter when it was cold, otherwise it would melt.

Times were tough back in those days and it was hard to make an honest living. The station owners bought plates to make counterfeit ten dollar bills. A room was added to the back of the station and the only entrance was through a window. After one person was caught passing the fake bills and arrested, their identification gave the address. They were eventually traced back to the gas station. The plates were found, the crime spree terminated, and the owner taken to jail. The old station was closed, never to open again. Many years later and nothing to do with the counterfeiting, a murder victim was found in the abandoned building. The victim was never identified and the mystery never solved.

Our last stop of the day was at Pops 66 (GC162WP), an the iconic destination and must-see landmark on Route 66 in Arcadia, Oklahoma. It features a family-friendly, full-service restaurant, gas station, convenience store, tons of bottled soda, and a 66-foot-tall pop bottle outside that dazzles with multicolor LED lights when the sun sets.

Needless to say after browsing the store for about an hour, we left with a huge assortment of good and "gross" sodas!

That's the end of our LONG day. Twelve hours of driving and sightseeing the roadside attractions along the historic Route 66. Tomorrow we finish up Oklahoma and arrive at our destination in Texas.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Friday, April 7, 2023

2021-03-31: Exploring the Historic Route 66 Through Missouri on Day 9 of Our 3400 Mile Roadtrip Adventure

Winding down on Day 9 of our crazy 3400 mile geocaching and sightseeing roadtrip adventure through history, we spent the day in Missouri trying to follow the original sections of the famous Route 66 highway from St Louis to Joplin. Along the way we stopped at many of the roadside attractions that Route 66 is famous for: a super-sized rocking chair, historic gas stations, old abandoned bridges and more. Oh and let's not forget picking up new geocaching counties along the way too! So hop on board the GeoJeep and let's go for a drive...

Our first two county cache stops was in Crawford County. A travel bug hotel geocache (GCKC79) next to the Crawford County Historical Marker.

Continuing westbound on Old Route 66, we enter the town of Cuba, MO. There we spot several places that look interesting. Among them were the Missouri Hick BBQ with an old garage out building to the side. Or perhaps it was the smoker shack where they slow cooked their BBQ. Don't know but it looked pretty cool.

Next door to it is the Wagon Wheel Motel. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built in 1935 and originally called the Wagon Wheel Cabins, Cafe, and Station. Standard Oil leased the station for one year after WWII. The cabin rooms have been upgraded and modernized while still maintaining the exterior historic charm.

A couple of other noteworthy places to stop for a photo in Cuba would be the Holy Cross Catholic Church and the Crawford County Historical Museum, both made of the same stone walls as the motel.

Just a few minutes further in the town of Fanning is our next geocache (GC1G43E). The Rockin' on Route 66 cache brings you to the Fanning US 66 Outpost and the World Famous Rocker seen at the top of this blog post. After a few photos and finding the geocache, we started to drive off.

At the same time I took a drink from my McD's iced coffee I just purchased a few miles back in Cuba. I think I only got 3 or for sips from it as it was more ICE than coffee! So I looped right around and parked back by the Outpost. We went inside to see if they had some bottled Starbucks or Dunkin coffee to pour into my cup. Yep! We ended up spending much more as we walked out with the coffee, a few novelty soda's and some homemade fudge. The proprietor was also very friendly and welcoming. I highly recommend that you be sure to take a look around inside the Outpost as well after getting your required Rocking Chair photo.

While staying on the Old Route 66 can be very interesting, it is also a slower pace and very time consuming. We still have to get to Texas for the next project before too long. Since I already had a geocache found in the next county, Phelps, I jumped back onto the parallel I-44 to quickly put some miles behind us.

Exiting back off into Pulaski County, we make a stop for our next geocache and our first ghost town in a while. "A Gathering of Hookers" geocache (GC174AZ) brings you to the only remnants of the small community that was once called Hooker, MO. Built in 1900, this church building and cemetery are the only evidence of the early pioneers. The slow curving Old Route 66 (1926-43 alignment) passed by right in front of the church. When the new and improved 4-lane US-66 was built (1943-77 alignment), it was straightened and by-passed many of these communities.

A few Route 66 curves later and we arrive at the Devil's Elbow. A small lumberjack settlement began here after the Civil War around 1870. The name derived from a tight U-shaped bend in the Big Piney River. When the lumberjacks would send their logs downstream, they often got jammed up in "a devil of an elbow," which became known as Devil's Elbow.

Also here at the Devil's Elbow are my next three geocaches (GC175JD, GC1TG2P, GC17E9W). I'm just gonna give you a brief description of my two photos below before telling you about a great web page to go look at for more. This bridge was actually built in 1923 as part of the MO-14 state road connecting the communities. Three years later it became part of the original Route 66 alignment. However with the 4-lane realignment of Route 66 in 1943, came a new bridge. This was used only for local traffic and without regular maintenance, it was eventually condemned. Route 66 enthusiasts saved, restored it in 2013, and now open for vehicular traffic once again.

Following the curve around a half-mile to higher ground you get a good look at a section of the Big Piney River where the double truss railroad bridge crosses over.

Now for more historical information and lots of old and new, before and after photos, if you really get into history like I do, take a look at this web page I found on the Devil's Elbow community. It's a quick read and along with the photos and map will give you a better understanding of the Route 66 alignments. As well as some of the businesses that came and gone, and a revealing photo of the 2017 flood.

Making my way further westbound, we arrive in the town of Waynesville, still in Pulaski County, and our next two geocaches. The "Wire Road Stop" virtual geocache (GCE7E0) brings you to an old Stagecoach Stop listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built as a complex with two log cabins in the 1850's, it was later rebuilt with wood in the antebellum style. A stagecoach stop for the Burden and Woodson Stage, also a tavern, used as a hospital during the Civil War, and a hotel after the war. Later abandoned and rundown it had been condemned by the city in 1982. Local citizens got together and saved the historical building. It is now the Old Stagecoach Stop Museum.

The other geocache was at the Talbot House (GC46FPX). One of Waynesville's oldest homes, it was constructed in 1885 by the Rev Albert Washington Davis. Dr. C.A. Talbot purchased the home in 1915 and used it as a residence for his family as well as an office for his medical practice for the next 30 years. After his death in 1945, his widow then rented rooms to boarders. Today, the current owners use it as an Antiques, Collectibles, and Gift Shop business.

Moving on down the road into Laclede County and some more geocaches along the Mother Road. The Gasconade River Bridge (GC8V6TP) is next on the list. I love these old bridges. Like the Devil's Elbow Bridge, this bridge was built during the construction of Missouri's State Highway 14 a few years before Route 66. And again with the new expanded 4-lane Route 66, the lack of maintenance and repairs led to the closure and condemnation by the state in 2014. The Route 66 enthusiasts are trying to rescue and restore this bridge as well.

My next two geocaches are in Lebanon, MO. A quick stop and find for the Graffiti Tunnel (GC8AVN3).

The other geocache has over 500 favorite points and is the second largest cache that I've ever found, with the old Space Coast Geocaching Store cache in Florida being the largest. This one is called Jolly Green Giant (GC1MDCE) and is Missouri's largest ammo can.

There was just one more geocache we stopped for right before leaving the county. Nothing really to see here. But it was a Challenge cache (GC41F8V) that required you to have found a cache in at least 25 states before claiming the find. Well we've found one in 49 states, so I figured I'd stop quickly and sign the log sheet.

Another chance to make up some time as we already have Webster County, I jumped onto I-44 over to Greene County. There were two geocaches (GC2ZFAA, GC2Z72F) near the intersection of I-44 and US-65 that had some favorite points because of their creativity. They were easy to get to and easy to find. Had an interesting containers. What I liked most and wasn't even mentioned on the geocaching listing, was the historical pioneer cemetery just down the short trail.

It was the Union Campground Cemetery which was established in 1840 by the Presbyterian Church for open air camp meetings. Historical research by locals and decedents put the number of burials at around 200. However, documentation has only confirmed 84 burials.

Staying on the Interstate to get through Springfield, I took the first exit into Lawrence County to once again pick up the Old Route 66. Knowing that Route 66 was being built to the west following the old stagecoach trail, Sydney Casey purchased some property in 1925 in the small community of Spencer near Johnson Creek. There he built his businesses in a row of connected buildings, kinda like a mini shopping center. There was a gas station / garage, barber shop, cafe, and grocery store.

Strategically placed on the right just past the Johnson Creek Bridge (GC7TE1D) which was built two years earlier, Casey was open for business from the Route 66 travelers crossing the bridge. Looking west through the bridge, you can just make out his shops on the right past the Jeep. Then another 1/4 mile beyond and further up the hill was the Camp Lookout Cabins for the weary travelers looking for a break from the road.

The businesses prospered until the new Route 66 alignment a couple miles to the north bypassed this section of the original roadway in 1960. Then eventually killed any thru traffic with the construction of Interstate-44. The cabins no longer exist except for a couple of the foundations can be seen in the grass. Fortunately with the historical interest and fans of Route 66, what does remain here in Spencer has been rescued and slowly restored. Along with the geocache on the bridge, there are 4 easy multi-caches going up the hill using clues gathered from the shops (GC7RPV0, GC7RPY7, GC7RPZ0, GC7RQ04).

Passing through west into the community of Phelps, I spotted this old school building. The Phelps School was a one-room school built in 1888. Classes were held there until 1952. It was later abandoned and fell into disrepair in the 1980's. Eventually the community got together and restored it.

Entering into Jasper County and approaching the town of Carthage, we arrive at our next geocache. The Jalopy (GC4QMA6) is another example of artist Lowell Davis creations, an old car driven by a hillbilly and his hound dog.

Well that's our quick tour of Route 66 through Missouri. One day in the future, probably after retirement, we'll get to take a slower and complete roadtrip stopping in all the small communities. But it's late now and we made it to Joplin. Believe it or not we found a great Greek restaurant called Mythos. Time for a bite to eat and then get some sleep! She got the grilled chicken salad and I got the sampler platter.

To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

2021-03-30: Visiting history in St Louis, Missouri via Route 66 and the Gateway Arch on Day 8 of our 3404 Roadtrip Adventure

Welcome back friends! Today we finally make it out of the State of Illinois, cross over the Mighty Mississippi River, and into St. Louis Missouri. We'll pay our respects to some notable figures buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery and I finally get a chance to stop for a visit to the St Louis Gateway Arch. So hop on board as we continue to Geocache through history...

Our first stop was a quick geocache (GC50RQ2) find in Greenville, Illinois to mark our overnight stay and getting a find for Bond County.

Then we jump onto I-70 westbound. Instead of taking it all the way into St Louis, we detour onto the northern I-270 route. This not only takes us into Madison County, IL, but also over to the Route 66 Chain of Rocks Bridge and an Earthcache (GC68M54). Over its 50 year history, Route 66 crossed the Mississippi River at five different locations: 1) McKinley Bridge, 2) MacArthur Bridge, 3) Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, 4) MLK Jr Memorial Bridge and 5) Poplar Street Bridge.

This crooked crossing spanning the Mississippi River was a memorable passage for Route 66 travelers. The privately funded bridge was built in 1929 as a toll bridge. The distinctive 22-degree bend in the middle resulted from the need to build on solid rock footings on the river floor. Eventually turned over to the city of Madison, IL, it became the US-66 Northern Bypass from 1936-1965. In 1967, the New Chain of Rocks Bridge opened just to the north replacing this one to vehicular traffic. Now it is a pedestrian / bicycle bridge. We walked out to the center where Illinois meets Missouri where there was also a virtual geocache (GC2258).

There is also one stage of a 5-part Adventure Lab Cache here. We were only able to complete the one question as the other 4 stages were back in the other direction and I'm not backtracking.

These two structures you see here are just south of the bridge and look like they're a couple of secluded castles. In reality, they are water intakes for a series of locks and dams for the Chain of Rocks Canal to the east. This 17-mile section of the Mississippi River is very treacherous to navigate with its rocky bottom. In the 1940's-50's, the Army Corp of Engineers created a straight canal on the eastside of Chouteau Island to make it easier for ships and barges to navigate and bypass the rocky rapids.

Next we looped up, around, and crossed the mighty river on the New Chain of Rocks Bridge into Missouri. Our first stop over here was in the Bellefontaine Cemetery just a few miles in. So there was one gravesite we came to see. But upon arriving, we discovered there was so much more history here to see. Such as...

... William Clark (GC7B7DX) of the Lewis and Clark explorers. Born in Caroline County Virginia, Clark moved with his family to Louisville, Kentucky in 1785. In 1789, he joined the militia. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the regular army in 1792. One of the men briefly under his command was Meriwether Lewis. Clark left the army in 1796. In 1803, Captain Meriwether Lewis invited Clark to share the leadership of a corps of exploration in an extensive journey into the vast uncharted area newly acquired by the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. Clark acted as mapmaker and artist, portraying in great detail the life they observed.

After Clark's successful return from the Pacific coast three years later, President Jefferson awarded him 1,600 acres and made him Brigadier General of militia for the Louisiana Territory as well as superintendent of Indian affairs. He held that post the rest of his life. From 1813, he served as governor of the Missouri Territory. Clark died in St. Louis where a 35-foot gray granite obelisk was erected to mark his grave.

The Wainwright Tomb is one of Bellefontaine Cemetery’s most well-known mausoleums. It was designed in 1891 by renowned architect Louis Sullivan. Entombed here is Elis Wainwright, a millionaire brewer who lived from 1850 – 1924. He’s also known for the Wainwright Building in downtown St. Louis, one of the world’s first skyscrapers. Notably, Louis Sullivan designed that too. But the tomb was originally constructed for his wife Charlotte who’d passed away at the age of 34. Wainwright would then go on the run to Paris after being indicted in a bribery scandal. Decades later, he was finally entombed next to his wife upon his death.

The grave of Herman Luyties (1871 – 1921) is among the most unique at Bellefontaine Cemetery. And it has a rather creepy backstory. Luyties, the owner of the first drug store in St. Louis, took a trip to Italy at the turn of the 20th century. There, he fell in love with a model who ultimately rejected his proposal for marriage. But Luyties couldn’t let her out of his mind, and he even commissioned a sculptor to immortalize his former lover in stone. Now, in some form at least, Luyties can lie forever with the woman who wouldn’t have him. Over time, the marble statue gradually eroded due to weather, and so it was later placed in the glass box we see it in now.

Adolphus Busch (1839 – 1913) was a well-known brewer who ran the Anheuser-Busch Company with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser. And like Anheuser, Busch was also born in Germany. As a young adult he emigrated to St. Louis which was home to a large German community at the time. And that meant that there was also a large market for beer. Following Anheuser’s death, Busch became president of the company. And thanks to his marketing expertise and innovations like refrigerated freight cars, he helped Budweiser become a nationally recognized beer brand in the 19th century.

Today at Bellefontaine, the Busch Mausoleum is one of the more notable tombs on display. It was designed by the Barnett, Haynes & Barnett architectural firm in the Bavarian Gothic style but made with local stone. It supposedly cost around $250,000 to build at the time, which equates to over a couple million dollars today!

The main reason for stopping by this cemetery was to visit the gravesite of Rush Hudson Limbaugh III. The majority of people know the name, many who listened loved him, and the others who only know what was told about him probably hated him. Rush was a radio personality, political commentator, and author. He got his start in radio in 1971 at radio station WIXZ as a DJ in Pennsylvania reporting "farm news." Within 18 months, however, he was fired due to a "personality conflict" with the program director. He went through a number of radio stations, working as a deejay and a talk show host, but it wasn't until 1984, when he became famous with his radio show on KFBK in Sacramento, California. He could voice any opinion he felt, regardless of how controversial.

(At the time of our visit, Rush's headstone had yet to be installed.)

His show was picked up by ABC-Radio in 1988, now being broadcast all over the country for what would be over three decades. It eventually rose to 600 stations and 27 million weekly listeners. Limbaugh was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998. Additionally, he was a five-time winner of the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for Excellence in Syndicated and Network Broadcasting. Limbaugh's unabashed love of country and belief in American Exceptionalism caused detractors to seek controversy in every broadcast.

He was well liked for his charity work, using his show for the annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Telethon and the Marine Corps–Law Enforcement Foundation. He also was not afraid of poking fun of himself, voicing himself in cameos for three episodes of Family Guy.

Limbaugh, a cigar and former cigarette smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer, eight days after his 69th birthday. On February 4th, during President Donald Trump's State of the Union Address, he awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom. After his lung cancer diagnosis, he continued working on his radio show as much as he could. "I told the staff that I have a deeply personal relationship with God." Limbaugh died on February 17, 2021, at the age of 70.

(A more recent photo with the headstone.)

Continuing south for several miles along the banks of the Mississippi River into St Louis, we finally found a parking spot a few blocks away from the Gateway Arch (GC7ED). Along the way we spot the Tom Sawyer River Boat getting ready to pass underneath the historic Eads Bridge. This was the first bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis. It was a major engineering feat, the largest bridge built at that time and the very first steel bridge. Completed in 1874, it is the oldest bridge standing on the Mississippi River. It was designed and built by James Buchanan Eads, an engineer famous for his ironclad gunboats built for the Union in the Civil War.

Nearing the Arch, we pass by this statue of Lewis and Clark and their dog coming ashore after crossing the river during their expedition.

During my days as a truck driver, I used to pass through St Louis on Interstate 40 often and could only get a view of the Gateway Arch out my window. I had always wanted to stop for a closer look, but parking a 70' long 18-wheeler within walking distance in downtown St Louis is probably not an easy task. Now, finally, we are able to get an up-close look at this monument.

Now for some history and facts. The St Louis Gateway Arch (GC7ED) is 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide at it base. The idea for a memorial to commemorate the western expansion of the United States began to take shape in 1933. On June 15, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law, instituting the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. In December 1934, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association discussed organizing an architectural competition to determine the design of the monument. Local architect Louis LeBeaume had drawn up competition guidelines by January 1935. On December 21, 1935, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7253 to approve the memorial and 82-acre National Historic Site.

On February 18, 1948, Eero Saarinen's design was chosen from among the initial 172 entries in the design contest. After much deliberation and planning, the official groundbreaking ceremony finally occurred on June 23, 1959 at 10:30 AM. The first order of business was to build a tunnel and reroute the railroad tracks. In 1961, the foundation of the structure was laid and construction of the Arch itself began on February 12, 1963 as the first steel triangle of the south leg was set in place. The arch's visitor center opened on June 10, 1967, and the tram began operating on July 24. Upon it's competition, the arch became the tallest memorial in the United States and the tallest stainless steel monument in the world. The official dedication ceremony was finally held on May 25, 1968 by then Vice-President Hubert Humphrey.

Because of its tight quarters inside and limited exits, the Secret Service has forbidden all Presidents from ascending the Gateway Arch due to security concerns. The only exception was made in 1967 when he was 77 years old, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower was in town to give a speech. He had signed the order for the construction of the Arch in 1954. He paid a visit to the site after it had already closed to the public and insisted he get a ride on the tram to the top.

One more stop in St Louis before leaving the downtown traffic. I've played the game of chess since I was a kid. I taught my two sons when they were young. And when they started in a private Christian School, I formed and hosted the Chess Club for 2 years. So when I saw this virtual geocache at the World Chess Hall of Fame, we just had to stop. Outside they have the Guinness Record World's Largest Chess Piece (GC890GN) at 20 feet tall and a 9'2" diameter base and weighing in at 10,860 pounds!

Now to get out of the city to the rural open roads, find something to eat, and get some rest. To follow along on our travels and keep up with my latest blogs, you may do so here of course by clicking the "Follow" button to the right. But also by using one or more of your favorite of these social media platforms: FacebookMeWeGabRedditParlorTwitterGETTRInstagram, and TruthSocial. These all link directly to my profiles. Again, please feel free to comment and / or share.