River connections

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

Improvements to and near Riverfront Park in Cape Girardeau provide the city with new downtown assets that are sure to be popular for years to come.

The latest attraction is the south end of a new riverfront trail on the Mississippi River side of the floodwall. It is both aesthetically pleasing and practical. The trail's walkway shows off the mural facing the river. The mural depicts important and prominent landmarks and city history.

There also are park benches and several sloping ramps that take visitors close to the river's edge.

All of the newly opened trail is accessible by wheelchair, with a spacious cul-de-sac turnaround at the south end.

Also incorporated into the trail is a retaining wall topped by a balustrade originally installed in 1911 by the Frisco Railroad. This area of the trail provides a feeling of being right over the river as the water flows next to the retaining wall.

Soon the trail's northern segment will be completed. When finished, the riverfront trail will give visitors to the park outstanding access to the river.

The riverfront trail, combined with other downtown features, makes a visit to the river more rewarding than ever. New murals on the downtown side of the floodwall are taking shape. They offer historical scenes as if the viewer is looking through the floodwall.

The French colonial-style cabin that houses the Red House Interpretive Center offers a glimpse of how the city's founder, Louis Lorimier, lived when the Lewis and Clark expedition came to town more than 200 years ago. The Red House is near the floodwall across from Old St. Vincent's Church, another downtown jewel.

And the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, a vision of lights and cables at night, offers a splendid backdrop for a downtown visit and is spectacular from the new riverfront trail.

Taken together, the trail, the murals, the Red House, the bridge and the many other downtown attractions offer ample reason to spend some time on or near the river.

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