City “Minimizes” Tree Loss on Bloomfield Road

This afternoon, Mother, Advance reporter Madeline DeJournett and her blackberry pie-baking fiance, J.D. Braswell, and I met with Advance historian Paul Corbin for three hours of history, gossip and tales about that small town.

During the course of the conversation, the topic of trips to Cape came up. Mother mentioned that her grandmother would always buy a pot when she shopped in Cape so that they could stop for a drink of water at the spring on Bloomfield Road..

Paul said his mother told him about going there on their shopping trips to Cape.”It took one whole day to get from Greenbrier (west of Advance) to the spring. They stayed all night at that spring. They took potatoes to sell and sorghum molasses, probably chickens and everything. They’d take some hay to put in the wagon – they’d sleep in the wagon.” The next day they’d go on into Cape to do their business and return to the spring to sleep that night. “It took three days to make the trip.” Paul is 97, and Mother will be 90 this fall.

I’ve been avoiding going down Bloomfield Road. Not because of the inconvenience, but because I didn’t want to see what had happened to this historic and scenic highway. It was late in the afternoon, so I decided to take the plunge. After writing about the construction plans, I felt like I should see how bad it was.

Tree loss to be minimized

Remember back in May when the city held a meeting to talk about the $1.25 million road-widening project? City officials said that as many as 150 trees would have to be taken down in order to widen the road from 22 feet to 28 feet. City Engineer Kelly Green was quoted by Scott Moyers as saying that the city has taken measures to mimimize the loss of trees, but that some would have to come down in order to widen the road.

Maybe they are just cutting saplings

The loss of a few saplings can’t be THAT bad. Surely they’ll spare the grand old trees that have been providing travelers shade since the horse and wagon days, right?

Big trees are cut, too

In order to get an idea how large some of the trees were, I put a dollar bill on some of the stumps. A dollar bill is exactly six inches wide. Based on that, this tree had to have been close to 30 inches across. That tree was probably a good size when the Corbins and the Welches were camping and drinking from the spring just up the road over a century ago.

They are ALL cut

In fact, it looks to me like every tree inside the right of way on the west side of Bloomfield Road is slated for removal or has already been cut. The only shade on that side is what’s provided by trees that are on private property.

Why is this important?

We’ve lost this stretch of road. These trees won’t be replaced in our lifetimes, our children’s lifetimes nor our grandchildren’s lifetimes. They’re gone and they ain’t coming back.

Moyer’s story went on to say, “And the loss of trees may not end there. While no specifics have been planned for the next phase, if it’s similar to this summer’s work, more trees will come down in two years. Project manager David Whitaker said the city is starting with the concept that the next phase will be similar to the work this summer, but added that input from the meeting Thursday could change the nature of the work in 2013.”

Make your voices heard

If you want to save what I think is the most unique section of the road, from what used to be Mount Tabor Park to Hwy 74, you had better start gearing up now. Watch the paper for notices of meetings and GO to those meetings to let the officials know that clear cutting the last section of roadway is not acceptable.

Do you want this or another Mount Auburn Road?

Stopping or modifying the last phase is going to be tough because the city is going to drag out the “safety” argument, saying that it’s dangerous to have a widened road feeding into a narrow one.

To that, I say “balderdash.” If the old Bloomfield Road was unsafe, it was because the speed laws weren’t enforced. Generations of drivers managed to navigate that road. Wider roads simply breed higher speeds and more traffic, which calls for more wider roads.

Alternative routes exist

There are alternative routes for drivers who feel the need to speed instead of appreciating the quiet, cool beauty of an historic roadway.

I want my grandkids to be able to show their grandkids where their great-great-great-great-great grandparents once camped when it took three days to make a 60-mile round trip.

Photo Gallery

Here’s a photo gallery that shows just how well city officials preserved the trees along Bloomfield Road. Keep them in mind when you start hearing talk about planning of the last phase. It may already be too late. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

30 Replies to “City “Minimizes” Tree Loss on Bloomfield Road”

  1. I suspect that you had Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” playing in your head when you drove through there and saw the sun instead of the shade.

    They took all the trees
    And put them in a tree museum
    Then they charged the people
    A dollar and a half just to see ’em
    Don’t it always seem to go,
    That you don’t know what you’ve got
    ‘Til it’s gone
    They paved paradise
    And put up a parking lot

    Probably won’t be a parking lot, instead it will be a Wallgreens Pharmacy. And the spring? Little River Drainage District will have the task of plugging that “leak” too…

  2. This project makes me so sick that I don’t think I can ever travel Bloomfield road again. The whole process is symbolic of what’s wrong with America today. So many in our country have no conscience or respect for the past. The mentality of our leaders is–If it’s OLD, tear it down.
    Your point about the time it would take to regrow these ancient trees is true. They will NEVER come back. They are gone forever and can never be replaced. Gone are the days when a drive down Bloomfield Road meant taking off your sunglasses, so you could see in the deep shade–enjoying the wild Sweet Williams growing along the path, seeing an occasional deer.
    Thank you for this insight on your trip back to Cape, Ken, even though it saddens me immeasurably.
    We so enjoyed your interview with Paul Corbin, Advance’s city treasure!
    This subject isn’t over, no matter how the officials of the Cape County Special Road Board would like for it to be!

    1. Mother spotted two fawns about the size of the ones I saw earlier in the week.

      They were on the east side of the road just as we rounded the curve off Hwy 74.

      There may still be time to have some input in Phase III. If you go down, go down fighting. At the very least, don’t believe them when they assure you that they’re going to preserve the nature of the road.

      Still, it’s a losing battle. As soon as it’s widened, it’s going to need to be four-laned with turn lanes “for safety.”

  3. Shame on you so called decision makers, why not make this an alternate I-55. Let’s set speed limits to 70 mph, set up a rest area, Dennys, Mickey Ds on east and west side, remove every tree in a 100 yard width, and full speed ahead.

  4. I’m what my husband calls a “tree hugger” & these beautiful trees on this historic pathway gave their lives in vain. Money & clout have always won over nature. Politicians,financiers, & Cape’s elite fleet’s, phony safety issues to justify widening Bloomfield doesn’t hold water! The famous spring there probably won’t much longer either! They destroyed the cool green so people can get to the greens faster & lay some green in their hands! Makes me want to take my money out of the banks & bury it under a tree somewhere, but where is a tree or money safe these days? I’ll go hug a tree now & remember Mt. Tabor Park & a leisurely drive through the canopied beauty of Cape’s most special road district, in my opinion!

  5. I have always used Bloomfied road when ever possible going into Cape. There is no telling how many trips I’ve made through there in the last 60 years. I’m going to be called many bad names but I have never liked the road as it is. I’m not the only one, there are many others out there that feel the same way. Even my parents felt that way along with many from there generation. I’ve never thought it beautiful. At the right time of day the sun coming through the openings in the limbs will give a strobe light effect directly into your eyes. It’s way to narrow with no shoulder for safety purposes. Contrary to what you believe I’m not a speed demon nor do I feel the need for speed. I do feel sorry for the people losing part of there yards. These road improvements are decades overdue. I can literally look out my windows & see drastic changes that have been made to my home town & even the street I live on. I only live about 200 feet from Mr. Corbin (Not Corbett) so he knows what I’m talking about. I’m not a newbe my family and other relatives have lived in either Brownwood & or Advance for about 100 years. Mr. Steinhoff maybe some of what you say about Bloomfield road is true but the changes are needed none the less. Ms. DeJournett you don’t know me or anything about me and have no right to say I have no conscience or respect for the past. Where were & Mr. Stienhoff you when buildings were torn down in Advance that were almost as old as this country. If you’re going to be a advocate for historic preservation then go all the way. If not don’t complain about an worn out road and the trees along it. Shoot Mr. Stienhoff love this area so much he moved to Florida. Enough said I’ll sit back & wait for people to start calling me everything but a human being.

    1. Ken, one Ken would never call another Ken bad names. You’re entitled to your opinion and you’ve expressed it very well. I’ll cover some of the points you’ve made.

      I made a slip of the keys when I posted this around 3 a.m. and typed Corbett instead of Corbin in the description that goes out in the morning email. I changed it immediately, but two things are forever: the Internet and my mother’s attic. My apologies to Mr. Corbin. Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight.

      I know that strobe effect well. I remember how U.S. 61 between Jackson and Cape used to have the same effect. I lamented the loss of that tree-lined canopy and the 7-Mile Rose Garden, but I could understand the need to widen and improve a major highway.

      That’s not the case with Bloomfield Road. There are alternate routes to take if you find that annoying.

      I don’t see where Ms. DeJournett mentioned you by name as having “no conscience or respect for the past” in her comment. If you two have crossed swords, it wasn’t here.

      If you’re talking about the buildings in the center of Advance that were torn down, I had a punch in the gut when I saw my grandfather’s store had been flattened. I have pictures of me climbing the slick poles that held up the awning in front of that building.

      I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph my oldest son doing the same thing. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to capture my grandsons doing it. I DO have a photo of the sidewalk with the sawed-off pipes showing, a brick from the wall and a lot of memories of the place.

      I hope the medical facility that’s there now goes a long way to revitalizing Advance. It’s certainly caused a lot of the other buildings in town to be spruced up. The loss of those center buildings may make it possible to save the rest of the area.

      Where was I, you ask. My best buddy in high school told me that I had to escape Cape or “you’re going to end up One-Shot Frony.” I took his advice, transferred to Ohio University and ended up working for newspapers in Ohio, N. Carolina and Florida.

      Living and working in those areas have given me a greater appreciation for SE Missouri. I’m glad I didn’t turn into a One-Shot Frony, but worse things could have happened.

      He left behind a wonderful body of work and I’m talking with SEMO about leaving my photos to them when the time comes.

      I bounced all over the country to come back (even briefly) to here to recharge my spiritual batteries.

      I quoted Gordon Park when I described my trips back home:

      “I always return here weary,
      but to draw strength from
      This huge silence that surrounds me,
      knowing now that all I thought
      was dead here is still alive,
      that there is warmth here—
      even when the wind blows hard and cold.”

      I moved to Florida because that’s where one of the best photo papers in the country happened to be. I could leave there today and not look back in the rearview mirror. My wife, however, like the ocean and being close to our sons and grandsons in the area. It would be hard to pry her away.

      I’ve lived in Florida twice as long as I lived in Cape, but Cape is still my home. Florida is merely where I live.

      Florida is the epitome of what’s wrong with this country. I shot the first service held in a new church in Jupiter, FL. Ten years later, almost to the day, I went back to photograph the county fire department using it for a practice burn so it could be torn down to be replaced with a McDonald’s.

      You and I may respectfully disagree, but nobody is going to remove your status as a human being here. I won’t even ask you to provide a birth certificate to prove that you are part of our species.

      I won’t attack you personally and I won’t permit it on this blog. I’m headed back to Florida Friday, so I won’t be riding herd on the site as closely as I usually do, but personal attacks aren’t tolerated.

  6. Just as we knew would happen. It makes me physically I’ll to see it. A pox on all Cape Girardeau bureaucrats and the public works department. If you personally know any of these decision makers, let them know your discontent loudly and vigorously. Then SHUN them. Turn your backs on them. Do not speak to them, do not help them in any way personally, don’t let your children play with their children, if you own a bank-don’t lend them money, if you own a company-refuse to do business with them, if the city wants you to dedicate right of way for a project-make them buy it. They have personally affected the quality of our existence. Make them suffer some consequence for the action. Those people who say the trees can be replanted should have their faces slapped for their callous stupidity.

  7. You bring balance to an argument Ken Long. Nice job, and I admire your guts to bring perspective to a subject. I’m sure the same argument has been in the forefront everytime those who built this country, and made it what it is today, trampled history, beauty, and our longing to resist change. I know I do everytime I look in the mirror, abhor change that is. But you must admit Bloomfield Rd is a beautiful drive.

  8. You can’t step in the same river twice, and clearly you can’t go home again. This story makes me feel, in ways I haven’t felt before, the distance that has come between me and my home in Cape, and it has me wondering if I’ll every visit there again.

  9. My first thought – money does grow on trees after seeing the dollar bill…My second thought – I guess I should be slapped for “callous stupidity” because I was thinking how huge and beautiful my Bradford Pears grew in my backyard over the past 8 years and how lovely they would look all the way down both sides of Bloomfield Road after construction.

    I do not live in Cape anymore, so I don’t have the passion that some of the folks do, but I definitely have respect for history. I am sure, though, that there is a difference between anger and passion and know that one can accomplish more in their community by being assertive rather than aggressive. I also know that there are times when progress = safety. Maybe this is one of them…FYI -I had a 2 lane beautiful road in front of my charming subdivision up until last year. It will now be a raised highway with ramps.

  10. This does make my heart sad. When I was growing up in Cape we were poor. But we did have an old car that ran most of the time. On hot summer days, Mom would load us kids up in the “old fliver” as she called it and take us to Bloomfield Road. That was our air conditioning. So refreshing and so beautiful; I can close my eyes and still see it, feel the cool air, and smell the “woods” smell. I loved seeing the bright beams of sunlight sometimes shining through. Mom died last December. I am glad I have the memories of those poor but happy days riding down Bloomfield Road with my head out the window. So sad I won’t be able to re-visit it as it was. Guess that is a sign of my age. Progress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be IMO.
    Thanks for the memories Ken. I look forward every day to seeing your articles and photos.

  11. I couldn’t put it better than Rich Neal did – two of my favorite drives, Snake Hill and Bloomfield Road, no longer exist. I’m feeling all the years that have gone by since I left Cape.

  12. Ken S. you’re right Ms. DeJournett did not mention me personally. To my knowledge I have never met her. To me the inferrous was that not only the leaders of a community but any one who agrees with them has no consience or respect for the past. That is simply not true. Heck I am one of those people who respects his heritage & at the same time is dissapointed in it. My great great grandfather was a full blooded native American of which I am very proud. Yet at the same time I realize some of my other ancestors which he married may very well have had a hand in driving him & or his ancestors off of there land. I apologize if I offended anyone. I love your e-mails, some bring tears to my eyes while others a smile to my lips. All stimulate & challenge the mind. Keep up the good work & keep me on my toes. Ken Long

    1. Ken,

      No offense taken. There’s room for reasonable people to disagree reasonably.

      The loss of Bloomfield Road’s unique character falls on those of us who didn’t get involved until it was too late. Your earlier point that I’m 1,100 miles away is well taken.

      It’s up to the local folks to let their voices be heard. If they can’t make a compelling argument for their side, then the other side (or the most money) wins.

      Still, it cheeses me to have officials say that they are going to minimize tree loss and then see how they’ve mowed them down. Had they been more honest up front, then I think you’d have seen a bigger protest initially.

      I’m glad you like my stuff most of the time. It’s feedback from readers like you (and Madeline, on the other side of the fence) who make the site work.

  13. Cape voters made choices that have resulted in their becoming the most highly taxed (sales) folks in Missouri. The money continues to roll in as the pols search for places to spend it. The urgent safety issues on Bloomfield Rd are typical of the justifications. Believe them if you will.

    Next up is a $3+ million expenditure for Broadway east of Pacific. No doubt the reasoning will be flawless, and there will probably be a clock involved. But at some point those at the cradle of the Rush Revolution will have to explain why it’s OK for their local government to spend wildly on projects of questionable value, but apply a different rationale to federal largess.

    How many more restaurants and gift shops can 38,000 people support? Will the N’Orleans be eligible for town dollars? Heck, maybe the Historical Commission can run it.

  14. Oh, my! While Paul Corbin and I were out, scouting through Greenbriar and Cato cemeteries this morning for Confederate tombstones, look what happened on Ken’s blog!! Mr. Long, I guess we should have stopped and asked you to go along.
    As far as the loss of buildings in Advance, I’m under the impression that most of them burned–either through accidental fires or ones deliberately set in the 1930’s for insurance money. I’m sure that information will rankle your feathers, but I have it from several reliable sources–including Dr. E.C. Masters’ autobiography. As he tells it, he and Ed Mirly bought a firetruck back during that time and gave notice that they would put out any fires that were started–so the citizens had better stop burning their own property.
    The only buildings I’m aware of that have been demolished on my watch were the old Prather/Corbin/Ward store and the horribly derelict Masters Clinic in the middle of town. Are you indicating that we should have kept that awful rat trap of a moldy, neglected clinic?
    As for the Corbin building, I was sorry to see it go, but when asbestos was discovered, that sealed its doom. Are you unhappy with the new medical clinic built in that spot?
    I won’t go back over my objections to the Bloomfield Road Massacre…I’ve already given my reasons. My husband and I lived in Cape for years, and I still love it.
    You’re certainly entitled to your opinions, and I’m pleased to see your post on Ken’s blog, even though we disagree.

  15. Save some of the trees!!???? Looks like the city “fathers” need to be taken out to the road and rolled around “au naturel” among the stumps and sprouts that have been left at the side of what was a beautiful, and historic by-way. Why, should you inquire would this action match the mindless extermination of this wooded country road???? Check out all of the poison ivy that Ken S. captured in his “stump” photos!! Thusly does sweet, itchy justice come to mind!!! Just sayin’, regards to the Bootheel, kkr

    1. I wondered if anyone would notice all the poison ivy along the roadway. I’m lucky enough, knock wood, that it’s never bothered me.

      Dad could pull it off tree trunks barehanded without it causing a problem’ mother, on the other hand, can look at it sideways and break out in a rash.

      I DID leave a generous donation in the mosquito blood bank, though.

  16. Dad let me have my first “behind the wheel” driving experience on Bloomfield Road, Ca.1960, on the way back from fishing the Caster River at Greenbriar (great fishing holes there). After getting home, I excitedly told Mom I had passed three cars. No, said Dad, you “met” three cars. Which, with this issue, reminds me of Pogo’s admonition, “We have met the enemy, and he is us”.

  17. In my opinion I believe the quote below is applicable to the Bloomfield road subject. I made some changes to the quote as it attacked one person and would have been better served addressing all elected politicians. We vote and elect the people who make the decisions to cut down the trees or to make “life” better for everyone through their decisions. Ultimately a lot of the voters are mislead as to what the consequences of what their vote will bring in the future. Then they will not vote the person elected out if they do not do as the majority wishes. Officials should not be elected for life and it seems that is what we do a lot.

    Some people have the vocabulary to sum up things in a way you can understand them. This quote came from the Czech Republic . Someone over there has it figured out. We have a lot of work to do
    “The danger to America is not but a citizenry capable of entrusting an elected official with an office. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an elected official than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to elect that person. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than that, but is a mere symptom of what ails America . Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive an elected official, who is, after all, merely a person that is elected. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made them their elected official.”

  18. I abhor what is being done to Bloomfield Road and as our home is just off the section that is targeted for the next demolition of trees it is my unpleasant task to have to drive by what is now being done.
    It makes me both sad and sick to see it. I still believe there is a better way to improve the road without killing so many trees and the beauty of the road.

  19. The Japanese have always understood the beauty of life’s impermanence. Nothing lasts forever, and part of the beauty is in this change. Sometimes this change is due to “human progress” and sometimes to natural processes, such as tornadoes and floods. Our loved ones do not live forever, and they change too. I feel that the fact that we rejoice in that beauty and remember it together is a very important part of our connection to our community, our landscape, and our people. Things change, and not always for the better, but we can still do things on an individual basis to make things better. We can paint our houses, pick up trash, plant gardens and try to create areas around our own homes that will grow in beauty. And advocate for city programs and plans we believe will preserve and improve Cape. I have a huge 150+ year old oak tree in my back yard here in the middle of the city that I revere greatly. One day (hopefully many years after I am gone) it will die. I think I might just have to go out and give it a hug! Thanks to all for the diverse viewpoints and comments. This is us.

  20. What is happening along Bloomfield road is yet another example of the headlong rush of the city government in a small town (my home town) to try to prove the city is flourishing by tearing down rather than restoring, expanding where not entirely necessary.
    In one space, they seemingly wantonly, cut trees and destroy the natural beauty of drives that add to the innate charm and appeal while refusing to cut and clear tangled undergrowth in areas that could use a steward’s touch.
    The area around Cape Rock used to be a beautiful park where one could see up and down the river, including the downtown area, but no one has “tended the garden” over the years and it is just an unkempt thicket. I heard some time ago that a few local, civic-minded citizens tried to get the city to clean up and develop the area into what would be a beautiful park that would be an attraction for visitors and citizens alike, but some supposed tree-hugging ne’er-do-wells in the city government insisted that clearing out the tangled undergrowth, trash and poison ivy was not “environmentally friendly”. Where are those self-righteous people now? Why are they willing to allow very large trees to be cut, solely to create a wide, unappealling street that will allow some impatient, influential moneybag(s) to travel faster between their home in the woods to their office?

    It is time to preserve and/or restore the natural beauty that the Cape area was once known for.

  21. You need to stop complaining at least the city is maintaing the road and more people are for the wider road than against it and their not cutting down all the trees because that would take forever and also that is why they call it the city of cape right of way they can do as they please with it.

    1. Austin,

      I don’t “NEED” to do anything. I CHOOSE to lament the fact that a regional landmark is being ruined and that officials misled the public when they assured us that tree loss would be minimized.

      This is my site and I’ll call ’em as I see them. You note that I am giving you a forum where you can disagree with me.

      When I write about Bloomfield Road again, you are welcome to post your opinion again, so long as you keep it civil.

  22. Since the widening of Bloomfield Road up to Benton Hill Road (CR 206) I’ve been out that way several times and it is a good looking road with the rock walls and walking path past the large new homes. When completed out to Hwy 74 it will be great access to the Seimer’s Drive and Mall areas without using Interstate 55 or Hwy 61, both of those take you farther East than you need to go. In my opinion, The overhanging tree lined, cool, shaded drive hasn’t been all together lost so far. The large upscale subdivisions, the premium golf course out there and the better access to the Southwest shopping area almost dictate a better road through there.

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