- 26th July, We set off from Clarksville in the boiling heat at around 9am and wazzed off to St Louis. It’s about 300miles away, we passed through the lower west of Kentucky, then up through Illinois crossing the Mississippi into St Louis Mo. Arriving at about 2 pm to go up the “Gateway Arch” this is the very impressive structure you see on any images of St Louis. The idea of building “something” was conceived just after the 2nd world war, there were several ideas submitted for the “something” and the eventual winner is made of stainless steel , an equilateral triangle in section, tapering gradually to it’s 630 foot summit. All designed in 1948 by a Finnish geezer called Ereo Sarrinen, I wonder if he was Jarnos dad?
Jarno Sarrinen was a world champion motorcycle racer, who when he emerged on the scene in the early 1970s transformed the art of racing a motorbike, he rewrote the book on how to do it. In doing so probably made more impact than Geoff Duke on the previous generation, Mike Hailwood to that eras current batch and even Valentino Rossi to the present generation of riders. He was simply stunning. Sadly he was killed in the 250cc Italian GP, along with Renzo Passolini in a mass pile up on the Curva Grande in 1973.
Building on the arch started in 1963 and finished in 1967 not an easy task at all , well done you blokes! We went up the Arch in a very cramped lift system, even that must be a tricky task , making an elevator travel in a parabolic arc. Once at the top though one gets a good view of the city through the windows. Looking down on the banks of the “ol miss” one can’t help but notice the tons of driftwood that is laid up in the various catchments and pilings, there is so much its a wonder a business hasn’t been made of gathering up driftwood it can’t be that hard, it would have a positive side effect tidying up the river bank, It does look a dump. A couple of miles up stream from this point the Missouri river joins the Mississippi so this stuff journeys through and from a great swathe of the north USA.
After leaving the Arch we took a trip up the Mississippi in an it must be said, crappy replica of a paddle steamer. Not a patch on the one in New Orleans. That was a proper boat with a steam engine and all, we did that trip just before Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. Iv’e just had an awful thought, we visited the roof of the twin towers New York in 2001 just before Osama’s men paid a call! On that basis St louis should prepare for a big flood in the winter of 2011. Mind you the water level can easily raise 3 meters higher than it was during our trip in the “Becky Thatcher” the poor relation of the New Orleans “Natchez” she’s not even close, I would guess her sister ship “Tom Sawyer isn’t either. It seems a case of “we need a river boat trip in town how can we do this cheap?” and “we can pay homage to Mark Twain at the same time”. I think Samuel Longhorn Clemens (aka Mark Twain) who lived some 100 miles upstream in the 19th century would be disappointed too, with the river boats that bare his characters names. You’d think it was done by Brits that’s how average it was.
We left St Louis and traveled north back into Illinois to spend the night in president Lincoln’s home town of Springfield. We were on our way to our next planned stop, “The Field of Dreams “ near Dyersville in Iowa, 250 miles further on.