The Martha Throebeck Tourism Plan

Friday, June 29, 2018

I've noticed Southeast Missouri has a major problem. When you look at various websites devoted to quirky tourist attractions, we're totally missing from the maps. and, for example, show a giant void surrounding Cape Girardeau.

Other parts of Missouri have a bumper crop of roadside oddities. We've got squat.

Well, that's not entirely true. Cape Girardeau does have some peculiarities, but they've gone unnoticed by tourists. We have Union and Confederate monuments standing next to each other. We have a massive mural dedicated to an event (Riverfest) that hasn't been held since the Clinton Administration. We have a memorial sundial that was non-strategically placed in the shade.

So, first we need to make sure we get listed on these websites. Second, we need to develop some more tourist traps -- er, I mean, tourist attractions -- to put Southeast Missouri on the map.

Here are some ideas we should shamelessly steal from other towns:

Incline railway

Dubuque, Iowa, features a short incline railway that rises to a blufftop above downtown and the Mississippi River, offering a panoramic view.

We should build our own funicular railroad. Possible locations include the terraces at Common Pleas Courthouse, the hillside below Bellevue Street, or the bluff at Cape Rock Park. It could be billed as the World's Shortest Railroad.

Emerson Bridge light show

Memphis has installed 100,000 LED lights on one of its downtown bridges, allowing for animated light shows after dark.

Right now Cape Girardeau's only light show consists of sending highway workers out on the Emerson Bridge to place pink filters in front of the lights for October. With a modest investment, we can do so much better with a choreographed LED light system installed on the bridge.

Heated sidewalk system

I know I'm sick of sliding down Broadway Hill after each and every ice storm. Holland, Michigan, has found a solution to dealing with snow removal: warm water is pumped through a network of pipes underneath downtown streets and sidewalks, melting it once and for all.

Unfortunately, Cape Girardeau doesn't have its own power plant like Holland to produce the heated water. But why not take advantage of the Mississippi River currents? Just slap a few turbines in the river and we'll have the perfect power source for our own "winter-be-gone" system. In the summer, the system could distribute chilled water to cool the sidewalks instead.

World's Largest Something-or-Other

Multiple towns claim to have the World's Largest Ball of Twine. The competition for the World's Largest Rocking Chair is also fierce.

We need something equally cornpone. Cape Girardeau could construct the World's Largest Rose out of plastic, a nod to the city's former moniker as the City of Roses. Altenburg could boast the World's Largest Jumping Mule monument. Sikeston could offer the World's Largest Throwed Roll.

I suppose some would object to these ideas as being too garish. Tourists want authentic experiences, however, and kitsch is hot right now. We should hop on the bandwagon.

Say, that's an idea: the World's Largest Bandwagon.