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Google isn't perfect: Mount Tabor and other oddities

Posted Thursday, July 2, 2009, at 5:58 PM

If you've ever looked at the Cape Girardeau street map on Google, you may have noticed a large green blob near Bloomfield Road and Interstate 55 labeled as Mount Tabor Park.

Google Maps is an amazing system, but it shows some features that haven't existed for over a quarter-century. Mount Tabor Park hasn't been a public park since 1983.

Mount Tabor was mentioned recently in the online Speak Out discussions about long-lost places and memories of Cape and Jackson.

Hookie98 posted, "Here is one that I almost forgot about........ Mount Tabor Park. When I was a teenager a group of us went out there one night, and waited for the headless horseman. Then someone snuck up outside of the car, and banged on the side nearly scaring us to death."

Travellin man wrote, "There was Mount Tabor park which was between Cape and jackson. I know the park closed or was bought out quite a few years ago. Anyone know the story ? Anyway, I was parked out there with friends listening to the Cardinals win the '82 World Series on KMOX. Fun place to party!"

Indeed, it seems that Mount Tabor Park was a fun place to party. That's why it was shut down.

Digging through Sharon Sander's "Out of the Past" columns, I found these newspaper clippings that explain what happened to Mount Tabor.

May 4, 1978: County authorities are considering ways of remedying problems stemming from night-time drinking parties in Mount Tabor Park on Bloomfield Road, says Sheriff James J. Below; county-owned park for some time has been popular spot for weekend beer parties.

May 5, 1978: Cape Girardeau County Court has ordered all county parks closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. in initial effort to curb problems resulting from night-time drinking parties being attended by teenagers; action was taken after Sheriff James J. Below brought to court's attention party last weekend in Mount Tabor Park which was attended by about 300 people, many of whom were under age of 21.

Aug. 1, 1983: Cape Girardeau County Court agrees to vacate the Benton Hill Road near the former Mount Tabor Park; the park, just off Bloomfield Road west of Cape Girardeau, reverted to private ownership earlier this year after the Cape Special Road District said it no longer wanted to maintain the park.

I also found a story in the Bulletin Journal from 1979 mentioning Mount Tabor Park as one of several destinations for "Fall Splendor Week" sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The article says the park "includes a drive under a canopy of trees along Pecan Grove Road."

Google depicts Mount Tabor as a massive park, larger than any other existing park or golf course in Cape Girardeau. It's a shame that the city and county let it slip through their fingers.

Mystery railroad

Mount Tabor isn't the only blast from the past depicted by Google. Their maps still show a railroad line running right through the middle of town.

This railroad was built by Louis Houck, accidental railroad tycoon, as the Cape Girardeau Northern. The project was a financial disaster for Houck. The last vestiges of the bankrupt railroad, running from Arena Park to the river, remained as an industrial spur operated by the Missouri Pacific.

There's not much left of the old railroad. This overpass on Morgan Oak Street, now crossing a ditch, is the last major remnant of the railroad:

Until recently, the location of the rail crossings could still be seen (and felt) along Independence Street and Kingshighway where the pavement was rough. These traces have been removed by new construction, but a small section of the old rails can still be seen crossing Themis Street behind HealthPoint Plaza.

Alphabet Soup roads

Missouri and Wisconsin are the only places with a statewide system of lettered "alphabet soup" highways. In Wisconsin, these roads are county-maintained, while Missouri's lettered routes are state-maintained secondary roads. This is often a point of confusion: the letters are assigned on a county-by-county basis, making it appear they are county roads.

This has led to confusion by Google as well. For example, at the infamous NUT Junction between Delta and Leopold, the Google map is a mess, trying to label everything as "Route Y" in addition to the correct names:

Other mistakes

Here are a few other outdated things shown by Google:

* West Park Mall retains that hideous, but thankfully short-lived, "Westfield Shoppingtown" moniker.

* Prior to the opening of the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge and approaches, Highway 34 was routed along William Street and Highway 74 Truck Route was routed along Southern Expressway. Google shows the new bridge, but clings to the old highway labels.

* The roundabout at Gordonville Road and Silver Springs is missing.

* Speaking of unsuccessful traffic experiments, up until a few months ago, Google showed Broadway and Independence as one-way streets.

Have you spotted anything else out of place on Google? Post your sightings below.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I feel I should point out an important point: Google is just a delivery system for this data, rather than the creator. There are good reasons why you'll see so many inconsistencies.

- Problems with imagery & how up-to-date they are depend on imagery providers (GeoEye/Space Imaging/NASA, as well as local air-photo services like Cerdex). Google doesn't take any pictures - they purchase huge amounts of imagery already available to the public. If you see imagery from 2005, it just means there isn't a newer (better) image available yet.

- Planimetry info (man-made stuff you see on the ground) comes from companies like Navtech/TeleAtlas - third-parties who make their money literally driving around the country taking note of street names, construction, businesses, etc. Again, Google just buys up huge chunks of this data, which is only updated if and when the data providers get back to an area.

Just a few notes for anyone curious about how some of these oddities pop up. Trying to update every change in the world is impossible, so you'll always see anachronisms and incorrect info. But don't blame Google!

-- Posted by FriendO on Fri, Jul 3, 2009, at 2:46 PM

On Perryville Road, North of Bertling, as you approach the stop sign at Cape Rock and Perryville, one side of the street has a different block on the addresses than the other side. I think that when you turn off Rt. 177 and travel East on Cape Rock, one side of the street is named Country Club Drive, and the other side is named Cape Rock Drive.

-- Posted by Yankee Station on Sat, Jul 4, 2009, at 7:44 AM

I always thought it was a mistake to give up Mt. Tabor.

I hope the powers that be resist the push to widen Bloomfield Rd. That's always been a pretty drive with all of the overhanging trees.

If the road's too narrow for you, slow down. That road was here long before you were.

-- Posted by Ken1 on Sat, Jul 4, 2009, at 12:40 PM

Cool info on the railroad. If you follow the old railroad with satellite view on, you can see where buildings that still stand today were built to conform to the track route. There are also track remnants by Standley Batch, near the bridge.

-- Posted by wreckless76 on Mon, Jul 6, 2009, at 2:34 PM

Yankeestation: I found this story from 2003 describing the weird disagreement whether that stretch should be called Country Club Dr. or East Cape Rock Dr.:

http://www.semissourian.com/story/112047...

wreckless76: I forgot about that stretch of rail that still crosses Aquamsi Street next to Standley Batch. Now that I think about it, I think there's still a post (milemarker? switch? signal?) standing along the old right of way next to Indian Park, visible from William St.

Its_me: Bloomfield Road is ancient. One of the culverts has a date (I believe 1918) imprinted along the railing. Still, with the heavy traffic, it's almost inevitable that it will be widened or bypassed.

FriendO: You're right about the various data sources that Google uses. All said, it's pretty amazing what they've done. On the other hand, I can't help but notice that public-domain sources from the Federal government (Census Bureau and Nationalatlas.gov) seem to be more up-to-date than Google, at least in these cases.

By the way, a few weeks ago I spotted a truck on Big Bend Road that looked suspiciously like a Google Street View truck. It had a massive black sphere mounted in the back, probably a panoramic camera, and the driver was going rather slow with his flashers on.

-- Posted by James Baughn on Mon, Jul 6, 2009, at 5:08 PM

Some of Cape is already on Google Streetview. I was just looking at the Emerson Bridge through it. In fact, in trying to move the little "walking man" around, I accidentally discovered that some of Kelso has been "streetviewed." (Is that a word? I'm making it one).

I know that Highway 60 passing by Dexter is on "streetview."

-- Posted by Eliza on Tue, Jul 7, 2009, at 10:00 PM


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The webmaster of seMissourian.com and its sister newspapers, James Baughn has lost track of the number of websites he manages. On the side, he maintains even more sites, including Bridgehunter.com, LandmarkHunter.com, TheCapeRock.com, and Humorix.
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