Pavement Ends by James Baughn en-us Where the pavement has ended for over 90 years I've written before about the old highway between Charleston and Birds Point in Mississippi County. Although portions of the road were destroyed in the aftermath of the 2011 flood, some sections of vintage concrete pavement from 1921 are still intact. More recently, I've discovered that the New Madrid Floodway is home to a pair of other historic concrete roads, and these landmarks have a peculiar feature: they are only nine feet wide. Since the pavement was only wide enough... Fri, 15 Apr 2016 10:00:00 -0500 The daffodils are here Spring is certainly in the air as the daffodils are in full bloom. Taking a drive through the Oak Ridge area, I spotted daffodils along almost every road. Here is a quick gallery showing where to find them. ** New Salem Church and Cemetery, Route AA, Daisy ** Route D south of Oak Ridge ** Cape County Road 459 ** Route E near I-55 ** Sargent's Chapel, Bollinger County Road 234 (see my previous blog about the mile-long stretch of daffodils that a local family planted decades... Sun, 13 Mar 2016 22:52:17 -0500 What's it like to have Garden of the Gods to yourself? Every time I've been to Garden of the Gods in Illinois, the crowds have been intense. Visitors arrive from across the country, and even the world, to the tune of around 150,000 people per year. It's easy to see why: the views from the Observation Trail are spectacular, but only require a short walk. Camel Rock, the most popular landmark along the trail, will even be featured soon on a U.S. quarter design. On Saturday, with nearly 8 inches of snow on the ground, the crowds were... Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:55:28 -0600 Cape's floodwall -- as envisioned in 1954 The latest round of record-setting flooding on the Mississippi River provided another reminder about the usefulness of the downtown floodwall. It also, however, provided a stark reminder that some parts of Cape Girardeau are not protected by floodwalls and levees, particularly the Red Star neighborhood. That's not for a lack of trying, though. In 1950, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to develop a flood protection plan for Cape. The Corps envisioned a series of levees and... Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:30:00 -0600 The four seasons at Rock Springs Summer: Fall: Winter: Flood: Fri, 01 Jan 2016 09:51:52 -0600 Country Church Tour is turning into a Midwest tourist draw Thanks to an effective Facebook campaign and an article in AAA Midwest Traveler magazine, this year's Christmas Country Church Tour brought larger crowds than ever. Greeters at several churches said they were amazed at the number of visitors traveling long distances and spending the night so they could participate both days. Tour buses also followed the route, including a group led by a historical society from the St. Louis suburb of Crestwood. This annual event has turned into quite the... Sat, 19 Dec 2015 14:38:47 -0600 Scenes from the Southern Country Church Tour Our record warm temperatures this weekend made it harder to get into the Christmas spirit, but that didn't stop churches around Gordonville and Tilsit from showing off their decorations during the first-ever Southern Country Church Tour. I've blogged in previous years about the popular "Northern" Country Church Tour covering portions of Perry, Cape Girardeau, and Bollinger counties, now in its 11th year. That tour is scheduled for Thursday and Friday this week, Dec. 17-18, from 3 PM to 9... Mon, 14 Dec 2015 09:30:00 -0600 The Aquamsi mystery I recently blogged that Themis Street is the only street with that name in the country. Cape Girardeau also has another nationally unique name: Aquamsi Street. Like Themis, the name Aquamsi has a classical feel. The "aqua" part suggests a connection to water and the Mississippi River. Since Aquamsi Street serves as the southern continuation of Water Street, it's logical to conclude that Aquamsi was an erudite way of referring to the river and the water's edge. At least that's what I've... Tue, 08 Dec 2015 10:00:00 -0600 Return visit to the Panther Den Five years ago, I wrote about the difficulty in reaching the Panther Den Wilderness in the Shawnee National Forest. The situation has improved since then. The gravel access road isn't as rough, the damaged culvert has been replaced, the trail has been reconstructed in places, and new trail markers have been posted. A street sign -- which has become encapsulated by a tree -- marks the turnoff for Panther Den Lane, the access road. This narrow gravel road ends at a small parking... Fri, 30 Oct 2015 14:30:00 -0500 Welcome to Fall: The Pavement Ends Roundup of History and Hiking Events Now that we've reached the first full day of autumn, we're entering prime time for hiking adventures, community festivals, cemetery walks, and other special events scheduled to take advantage of this brief period of nice weather before we encounter the Polar Vortex again. Here's a roundup of events during the next couple months that have piqued my interest: --- **Quilt Tour Sat. Sept. 26 @ 9 AM-4 PM and Sun. Sept. 27 @ Noon-4 PMCape Girardeau and Jackson Four historic sites are... Thu, 24 Sep 2015 16:30:00 -0500 The Thomas Posey mystery It could be the stuff of a Dan Brown novel. Two different people uncover evidence that a U.S. President had a youthful indiscretion producing a child out of wedlock, but both researchers die before they can publish their findings. Rumors of the presidential dalliance continue to swirl despite the lack of hard evidence. The president in question is none other than George Washington. If the legend has any truth to it, Washington was the father of Thomas Posey, a Revolutionary War hero buried... Tue, 01 Sep 2015 10:00:00 -0500 The story behind Themis Street Cape Girardeau is the home to the only Themis Street in the entire United States. An exhaustive search of the U.S. Census Bureau's "TIGER" database does not reveal any other streets, roads, highways, or lanes of any kind bearing the name Themis. Other nationally unique names in Cape include Aquamsi, Thilenius, Beaudean, and Campster. Surprisingly, Cape Rock Drive is not unique: Prescott, Arizona, sports a cul-de-sac with the name Cape Rock Pass. Lorimier Street would seem like another... Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:00 -0500 First look at the Cape riverwalk extension Now that the river has dropped and the barricades have been removed, it's now possible to explore the southern extension of the Cape Girardeau riverwalk. Although not completely finished -- one last section of concrete apparently needs to be poured on the far end -- the riverwalk addition is looking good. The walkway now reaches the location of the old traffic bridge and provides a different perspective on the new bridge. Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:59:16 -0500 National Geographic building tourism website for the Mississippi River At a meeting Wednesday at the Cape Girardeau Public Library, representatives from the National Geographic Society and federal agencies introduced a new tourism website that will feature attractions and businesses along the Mississippi River. The website targets "geotourism", or those travelers seeking unique and authentic destinations. Of course, that concept fits in nicely with this blog, since I avoid tourist traps like the plague. A preliminary version of the website is online at... Wed, 29 Jul 2015 21:55:26 -0500 Missouri's Places in Peril list announced When approaching downtown St. Louis on Interstate 55, you've probably noticed the Lemp Brewery complex to the left as the highway makes a sweeping curve. Right next to the old brewery is another historic landmark, the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion, that is harder to see through the trees. Blink and you'll miss it. The house represents a major historic preservation success story. In the late 1850s, the property stood in the way of the proposed "Ozark Expressway" (today's I-55). Due to local... Sat, 25 Jul 2015 16:59:38 -0500 The horrifying event of July 14, 1876 It's the stuff of nightmares: being buried alive. For one Cape Girardean in 1876, this nightmare turned all too real. Professor Lucius H. Cheney had just completed another school year as the "principal" of the Southeast Missouri Normal School. The school, established in 1873, was growing rapidly. The Board of Regents was certainly satisfied with his leadership, as they had agreed to give Cheney another two year term as principal. During the summer break, Cheney was participating in a... Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:00:00 -0500 Lesser known roads of the Shawnee Forest At first glance it doesn't sound very interesting: The Shawnee National Forest is currently asking for public comments on a study of the roads on forest land. This study, however, does highlight the fact that the National Forest maintains a surprising number of roads that are just a short drive from Cape Girardeau. Snaking through the Illinois river hills, these backroads provide access to rugged terrain and scenic overlooks. Construction work during the last few years has improved many of... Thu, 14 May 2015 21:40:30 -0500 Blog without words: Spring at Maintz Conservation Area in Cape Girardeau County Sun, 26 Apr 2015 22:08:17 -0500 Rainbows without rain April shows may bring May flowers, but they also bring overflowing waterfalls. And those waterfalls, when captured from just the right angle in bright sunshine, deliver something else: rainbows. Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois both have a bountiful collection of waterfalls. The trick is to catch them on a sunny day following a heavy rain. This can be a tall order, but the crazy weather of spring offers a good time of year to go waterfall -- and rainbow -- hunting. Here is a... Thu, 23 Apr 2015 22:13:37 -0500 The Daffodil Road We might have seen snowflakes this week, but the blooming of daffodils is a unmistakable signal that spring is here. One particularly good spot to find daffodils is along Bollinger County Road 234 at Sargent's Chapel northeast of Sedgewickville. At some point in the past, flowers were planted for almost a mile along the roadside. A concrete fence post marks the southern limit of the flowers. Other fence posts with the same style can be seen along the road from here to Sargent's Chapel,... Sun, 29 Mar 2015 09:34:17 -0500