Sunday, March 23, 2014

A St. Louis Fort Night

We've been working diligently on St. Louis Magazine's "101 Things Every St. Louisan Must Do". We've gotten to the point where they are becoming more difficult to cross off our list because they are farther away or time restrictive (Skip Work for Opening Day is #1, which is on my calendar!).

Today after work I got home a little later than planned, but I wasn't about to miss a chance to follow the path of the perfect St. Louisan. No sir. To the Mystery Mobile!

By the time we arrived at Fort Belle Fontaine the daylight was fading fast. We'd burned valuable time finding the place, as it's a bit remote.


As we entered the grounds there was a guard station with a stop sign, and a guard came out of it. She curtly handed me a clip board with a visitor sign in sheet through my car window. "We have to sign in?" I asked. A weird "Yeah" was the only response. Ok... Signed in and continued. There were lots of little buildings spread around, one labeled "school", "administration", and several little living quarter buildings. What the heck was this place?

The place had a mysterious dearth of signage. Was some sort of training camp? Insane asylum? Weird religious organization compound? I saw a sign that read DYS but with no explanation as to what the heck that meant. Well DYS stands for Division of Youth Services. Turns out we were cruising around the grounds of a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation center. So weird.

We finally got to our destination after successfully navigating the winding roads of the Hamlet of the Flies. Well it turns out the fort was made of wood in the early 1800s, and so doesn't strictly... exist. There were a couple of historical signs that I took pictures of but it was too dark and so their contents will remain a mystery, except that the fort was the first west of the Mississippi. What is worth seeing is large stoneworks which struck me as pretty fort-like to the point I was confused that it wasn't the fort itself. There were a whole lot of stairs, and some spots where fountains at least used to be. It seemed a bit opulent for a spot in the middle of nowhere facing a river.

These giant cakes are hidden like Easter eggs all over important St. Louis area sites to celebrate the 250th anniversary of St. Louis.

The fancy stone part was build in the 1930s as one of those quasi make-work projects created by the WPA.

Eleanor Roosevelt visited the site in November, 1939 and wrote about her visit in her six-a-week newspaper column My Day (here).

No comments:

Post a Comment