Wine Cellar Still a Partial Mystery

No wonder the North Sprigg Street wine / beer cellar jangled the memory bells yesterday: I WROTE The Missourian story about it.

Shy Reader did some snooping around and figured out why I couldn’t find the story: The Google Archive jumps from May 16 to June 6 and this story bylined “Kenny Steinhoff” ran May 17, 1966.

John Blue must have edited this story and given me the byline. My official newspaper name was Kenneth L. Steinhoff; he probably slapped the “Kenny” on it and shipped it to the backshop to be set into lead type. Click on it to make it easier to read.

The Old Cramer Home

One of the advantages of Old Tech is that you can scrawl notes on the side of the clip. This one had the question “Cramer?” written on it, which led Shy Reader to these notes about the Cramer family.

What do we know about the cellar?

  • It was behind the SEMO Group Housing complex west of the 1000 block of North Sprigg
  • It was razed because it was a hazard to children
  • W.H. Meystedt said his father, Henry Meystedt, stored meat in the man-made cave from the early 1900s to 1910 or 1911
  • It consisted of three arched chambers, each more than 25 feet long and about 15 or 20 feet wide. It was 10 or 12 feet high at the apex.
  • The third chamber had been sealed off. When it was dug into from the top, it was empty.
  • Someone said that the cellar was used by the “Dedrux Brewery” before 1900 to store “vine beer.”
  • The origin and use of the cellar before 1900 is colored with rumor and speculation, involving the legendary Underground Railroad tunnels, Civil War prisoners and a possible ammunition dump.
  • “Kenny” Steinhoff asked if anyone who had authentic knowledge of the history of the relic of a bygone day to contact The Missourian, just like “Ken” Steinhoff did 45 years later.

 

Sprigg Street Cellar

Here’s a mystery that’s been bugging me for months. In April of 1966, construction workers working along North Sprigg Street uncovered a large cellar that was thought to have housed beer or wine. I don’t remember if it was part of the dormitory construction or if Sprigg was being widened.

I’ve looked through Missourians for a month on either side of April, but haven’t been able to come up with a story, even though I’m pretty sure one ran.

A few Stag beer cans

I didn’t prowl inside the cellar, but I could see a few Stag beer cans floating around. I think there were of more recent origin. There was a flat floor, but there was a square section in the middle that was cut out. I don’t know if that might have been a sump area where water could collect to be pumped out.

Photo gallery

Anyone have any idea about the history of the cellar? Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Flooded Quarry, Sprigg Sinkholes

The water in the cement plant’s quarry is a little lower than when neighbor Bill Bolton took his photos earlier in the month, but there’s still a lot of water in the bathtub. Here are pictures of the ebb and flow of water in the pit since 2002.

Pumping water into Cape LaCroix Creek

One reason they’re gaining on it is a new pipeline pumping water into Cape LaCroix Creek at South Sprigg. I don’t know if both pipes were being used at one time or if the one is being held as a spare.

It’s only fair that water be pumped¬† back into the creek because that’s where some of it is seeping from.

Sinkholes present challenge

Getting TO the quarry was a bit of a challenge. You can’t get there by going south out of Cape on South Sprigg. It’s closed at Cape LaCroix Creek because of some massive sinkholes. We had to come in from the west.

Devices along railroad tracks

I don’t know what these devices are along the railroad tracks north of the cement plant and south of the creek. Railroads have been using defect detectors for years to find overheating wheel bearings, called “hotboxes;” loads that have shifted; how many axles are on the train; objects sticking out and other anomalies. The devices transmit a radio report to the crew when it passes.

Until regular reader and train buff Keith Robinson chimes in, I’m going to speculate that these devices may be looking for changes in the track that would signal a sinkhole has opened up or swallowed the track.

Gallery of photos

Here are more photos of the Sprigg Street sinkholes and the railroad devices. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the right or left side to move through the gallery.