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Cape Central High Photos

Ken Steinhoff, Cape Girardeau Central High School Class of 1965, was a photographer for The Tiger and The Girardot, and was on the staff of The Capaha Arrow and The Sagamore at Southeast Missouri State University. He worked as a photographer / reporter (among other things) at The Jackson Pioneer and The Southeast Missourian.

Come here to see photos and read stories (mostly true) about coming of age in Southeast Missouri in the 1960s.

Please comment on the articles when you see I have left out a bit of history, forgotten a name or when your memory of a circumstance conflicts with mine. (My mother says her stories have improved now that more and more of the folks who could contradict her have died off.) Your information helps to make this a wonderful archive and may end up in book form.

Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

Bald Knob Cross sharp vert 3 426x600 Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

There was a story in The Southeast Missourian that plans are in place to finish restoration of the Bald Knob Cross. I’d be more excited if I hadn’t heard that for years.

Still, the story jogged my memory that I had shot some aerials and ground shots of the Cross in the late 60s. I was pleased to see that the shot from the air was better than I had remembered. Parts of the film had deteriorated over the years, so my selection of pictures was limited.

Cross stands 111 feet tall, 1,000 feet above sea level

Bald Knob Cross 8 500x151 Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

Cross project conceived in 1937

The project was spearheaded by Wayman Presley, who found 116 individuals who raised enough money between 1948 to 1951 to buy the land atop Bald Knob Hill. The foundation was poured in 1953. You can read more at the Bald Knob Cross web site.

Selling pigs raised $30,000

Financial shortfalls have been the one constant throughout the history of the Cross. The Bald Knob web site says that Presley quit his job with the Post Office to throw himself into fund raising. An appearance on This Is Your Life helped, but money was still tight.

A challenge to supporters to raise pigs, sell them and turn the profits over to the cross raised $30,000.

The Cross was completed in 1963

Bald Knob Cross 10 377x600 Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

The formal groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1953. The bare metal framework of the Cross stood for several years until there was enough money to cover the superstructure with 900 heavy steel panels with a bright white veneer.

The Cross web site said that 40,000 watts of lighting made the structure visible for 7,500 square miles.

The symbol of peace became a source of conflict

The Cross was supposed to be an interdenominational symbol of peace, but internal conflicts were growing at the same time as the structure was deteriorating.  The disputes became so serious by 2006 the courts stepped in and locked down the properties until everything could be sorted out.

Agreement was reached in 2008

From the web site:

In the summer of 2008 a settlement that was supported by both sides of the conflict began taking shape. In the agreement, all current board members would step down and the court would appoint a temporary transitional board comprised of mostly religious leaders in Southern Illinois. The final legal settlement became official on Christmas Eve 2008. The seven member transitional board met in the middle of January 2009 for the first time. Since that time, the board has been extremely busy. In addition to the obvious challenge of the physical restoration of the Cross, the organizational structure, fiscal policies and procedures, and program development aspects of Bald Knob have been addressed. Physical restoration of the Cross has already begun.

Location of Bald Knob Cross near Alto Pass, IL


View Bald Knob Cross of Peace in a larger map

Here’s another “cross” picture

Wife Lila, who was looking over the page before I published it, remarked that the Bald Knob Cross reminded her of a photo I had taken of an abandoned strip mine in Southeastern Ohio in 1969. A power pole caught the late afternoon light just right to look like a cross. The picture ran almost full page in The Athens Messenger on the first Earth Day. It’s always been one of my favorite pictures.

Here’s the background story.

She was right. (Of course, that’s always the case. It goes without saying, but she like to hear me say it anyway.) I’ll let you decide.

Earth Day 19691 414x600 Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

10 comments to Bald Knob Cross Restoration Planned

  • I was raised in Jonesboro, IL. The military brought me to Virginia Beach, VA where I now reside. But my family is all around the Anna-Jonesboro area and I come that way often. When I come back for a visit, I love to ride my motorcycle to this cross. It is an AWESOME place to visit… Thank you for recognizing such an amazing tribute to ALL faiths…
    Rick Davis
    Virginiia Beach, VA

  • Mae Holland Cuellar

    I have greatly enjoyed the pics and the stories behind them. You have a real talent for photography. These pics have made me homesick for Cape. After I met my husband I moved to Modesto, CA for about 10 years. In 1995 my husband was transferred to Shboygan, WI and we have decided to retire here.
    My maternal side of the family was from from the Scott City, Cape Girardeau, MO areas. Also the Elco, IL area. My Grandfather owned the only gas station in Elco. It was two of those hand pump or crank kind of gas pumps with the glass top. I remember when I was younger that he said pump it to the “3” and that’s a dollar.

  • Mae Holland Cuellar

    I have greatly enjoyed the pics and the stories behind them. You have a real talent for photography. These pics have made me homesick for Cape. After I met my husband I moved to Modesto, CA for about 10 years. In 1995 my husband was transferred to Sheboygan, WI and we have decided to retire here.
    My maternal side of the family was from from the Scott City, Cape Girardeau, MO areas. Also the Elco, IL area. My Grandfather owned the only gas station in Elco. It was two of those hand pump or crank kind of gas pumps with the glass top. I remember when I was younger that he said pump it to the “3” and that’s a dollar.

  • Jean Hengst-Freeman

    Our parents use to take my little brother and I to the cross for Easter Sunrise Service. It would just send cold chills up our spins, even though we were young. I have never forgotten the old cross and hope to go there someday to see it again.

  • Looking at the photos make me read more about it.Thanks for sharing this information.I would love to be in that place take and take photos.

  • Darla McKeown

    The restoration is indeed happening……today, August 8,2010, and next weekend, August 14, 15, weather permitting, the cross is open for tours to the top for a $20.00 donation. Must be 18 years old. The view is spectacular and the opportunity is unique. Once the skin goes on the cross the chance will be gone.

  • cathy

    I like this post! its interesting and very informative, i am really enjoyed reading and watching the photos , thank you so much for sharing this very informative post and keep it up!

  • How wonderful that you were able to share these pictures! Something made me think when I read how important the cross is, and someone wrote a book, “When The Crosses are Gone”, showing how important they are and the significance behind them, in preserving America.

  • man i love this cross it makes mee broke dwn with tears can wen i c this i c my baby bother, grandpa, N my dads mom. god u kno i belive in u. N u is with mee all the time no matter wat if i stay in that twon i wood be up there all the time SOO GOD IF U WOOD PUT ME IN YOUR STEPS. N help mee out bye savanna hart

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