Dennis Scivally Park

Generations of little girls have played on this bridge during Brownie day camps and Flyover ceremonies. Some times all it takes is a warm spring day to bring out families.

Ellis Park renamed in 1935

Ellis Park on Cape Rock Drive was renamed  Dennis Scivally Park in 1935. Dennis M. Scivally, chief engineer of Cape Special Road District, did as much as any man to bring Cape County’s roads out of the mud.

He graduated from the old Normal School in 1898, then taught at Kage School for three years.

Worked for Louis Houck

In 1902, he worked in the office for Louis Houck on the Cape Girardeau Northern Railroad. He moved over to the engineering department and was placed in charge of construction work. By 1905, he was made chief engineer of the Cape Girardeau Northern and of Houck’s Saline Valley Railroad.

Retain the beauties of the road

He moved from railroads to highways about three years later and became chief engineer of the Cape Special Road District that established Cape Rock Park and Drive.

When Tollgate Hill on the south end of town was reduced in grade, The Missourian reported that Mr. Scivally said that “Several walnut trees had to be cut down, but care will be taken to cut down no trees not absolutely necessary to remove.

“It is the plan to retain the beauties of the road as well as make it good for traveling over. Along most of the distance are now growing beautiful trees. These will be cared for, underbrush and weeds will be removed, painted signs along the way will be tabooed, as well as signs tacked to trees.”

Bridge built in 1941

The park has hosted just about every social, fraternal and religious group in the area. Scores of weddings have been performed there and little girls still stare down into the water from a bridge that was built in 1941.

On a personal note, Dennis Scivally owned an overgrown lot between our house on Kingsway and Kurre Lane. On weekends, Dad would haul out an axe and start thinning out the saplings and brush.

Knowing how Mr. Scivally felt about preserving trees, we all waited for him to come by and hit the roof over Dad’s “improvement” project. Finally, Dad made Mr. Scivally an offer for the lot, which he accepted. I never did know if he had ever noticed Dad’s handiwork.

When I look back, I find it hard to believe that I’ve actually met the man who played a major part in the region’s transportation history. He wasn’t just somebody in a library book. He was a guy who was human and who might have chewed you out for chopping down his trees.

31 Replies to “Dennis Scivally Park”

  1. Our oldest son has wedding pictures from there in 2008. Everyone thinks it is a beautiful setting. I’ve been by that park many times, but until I saw their wedding pictures I’m not sure I ever noticed the bridge. I sure do now!

  2. I was one of the Brownies that “flew up” into Girl Scouts over that bridge. I was Brownie leader for my daughter’s troop and I took them to the same bridge for their ceremony.

  3. Thanks Ken, it is good to see families still enjoy the Park. Growing up on Cape Rock Dr, Dennis Scivally Park was part of my playground. I used to fish, catch crawdads and explore the creek all the way to Perryville Road. Long before there was a Brookwood Drive, the woods seemed endless to a kid. I did my orientation for my second class Boy Scout badge there. When Salem cigarettes first came out, I tried my first and last smoke up the creek on a big rock. I played baseball in the Park but I remember there were too many trees to be a really good baseball diamond.
    There were many family and Church picnics there. I treasure several of the home movies that Dad took on these outings. My sister had birthday parties, Brownie and Girl Scout outings there. Some of the older members of my family always called it Ellis Park so I grew up knowing both names.
    Today the park seems a little out of place, surrounded by homes. The park is reduced to what was probably always its property boundaries. In the 50s, it was out of the city limits and in the country.

  4. My first husband, David Musgraves,had a grandfather who share cropped for Gibney Houck. One day a family had their car backed up to his grandpa’s corn field and was loading the trunk with ripe corn. David and his grandpa saw them and started shucking the corn for them. The gentleman said “I don’t know whose field this is.” David’s grandpa smiled and said “It’s mine.” That guy was caught but grandpa was willing to help anyone in need.

  5. D.S. park is one of Cape’s hidden treasures! Back in the 60s and early 70s, I grew up within 100 yards of this park; a great place for a kid to play sports, ride bikes and to roam the creek for all types of ‘animal life’. Excellent memories!
    Once again, thanks for sharing.

  6. Ken, thank you for the wonderful memories you bring back with your pictures. I especially loved Ellis Park, which we called it as I was growing up. That bridge was designed so beautifully, and when our families would go on a picnic there our folks would always know to find us at that very spot. Now when we visit Cape, and not as often as I’d like, Ellis Park and Cape Rock are two places that I have to drive by to look at once again.

  7. One of my favorite places in Cape…many family picnics & I seem to remember a family reunion when I was very young! Surrounded by homes & busy streets does not detract from its beauty!

    Love you sharing such a wonderful & heart warming story, Linda!

  8. I was one of those Brownies at day camp and later as a Girl Scout, I was a helper for the Brownies there. What fond memories I have of that park. We always called it Ellis Park and I was shocked that it was renamed as early as 1935. I thought it had changed much later than that, like in the late 1950s. We loved the park and the bridge and the creek, a lovely little bit of heaven.

  9. My family, back in the 40’s, affectionately pronounced the “c” like a “k”in Scivally

    Earl Johnson

  10. I, too, lived across the street from Scivally Park and spent tons of time there with my siblings catching crawdads and playing in the creek. I also saw how fast the creek could rise in heavy rain – my firsthand experience with a flash flood that actually went over Cape Rock Drive. For Mother’s Day one year, my husband gave me a framed picture he took of my kids standing on that beautiful, stone bridge during one of our visits to Cape. I love how the park is tucked into the neighborhood…

  11. Years ago, while poking around in the rocks in the creek, I found a trilobite fossil in one of the pieces of chert. It was my first fossil find. I still have that fossil in my old rock collection to this day.

    My great-grandfather, Goley Robinson,talked about Mr. Scivally very fondly. Goley was a fireman on a number of Louis Houck’s railroads in southeast Missouri and got to know Mr. Scivally through that connection. When riding around in southeast Missouri, great-grandfather pointed out many of the engineering projects Mr. Scivally supervised along the Houck roadways, including the cut in the rocks up along what has been the Cape – Jackson Road, or the former roadbed of the Cape Girardeau & Chester, later the Cape Girardeau Northern Railway.

  12. I use to play in that park as a kid. Also remenber the small bridge,and creek. JIM HALTER CLASS OF 1969

  13. I’ve been to several picnics in that lovely park but one thing that convinced me that we had made a good move when we went to Melbourne Florida in 1961, to live and continue continue my postal career, was when we went back to Cape for a visit. We had left Florid in 80+ temperatures and went to the park for the family gathering in 106 degree temperature. We thought we would die before we could get back to Florida.
    Joe Whitright “45”

  14. I played in the park often in the early ’60’s. My most memorable day there was when my friend, Burton Bock, in the company of me and our friend, Darrel Ludwig, killed a 3+ foot copperhead. The snake was just downstream of the bridge and was being aggressive. Burton killed it with a stick not much longer in length than the snake. The Missourian ran a short story about it called “Cape Boy kills 3 foot snake”.

  15. My son’s Cub Scout Troop from Clippard school had it’s ceremonies at that bridge, when they crossed over. Made a great setting and great pictures, and memories.
    There was a shocking story about the park thought. There was a girl found killed there near the bridge. Not sure if it was in the 60’s or 70’s, butI remebered hearing about it.

  16. In 1955, my future husband came to Cape for college. His parents woud pack a picknic lunch and we would go to Scivally Park for lunch. Carl and hhis dad loved the Siemers’ dogs that lived next door to the park. Long before Cape got a t.v. station, my family’s one rcreatiion was ging for drives. We spent a lot of time going to and walking around that park. Good memories!

    1. I enjoyed looking at your gallery last year when you posted it.

      When I looked at the pictures just now, I see that you and I are very different types of photographers.

      Your shadows show that your photos were taken early in the morning. Mine were taken later in the afternoon. (I’d rather stay up late than get up early.)

      Thanks for the links.

      I wonder how many Missourian photographers have headed to Dennis Scivally Park when the well was dry and the editor was calling for feature art? Looks like all of us: Frony, you and me.

  17. I, too, have fond memories of Dennis Scivally Park. Does anyone remember a roadside park between Cape and Jackson on Highway 61 called Ellis Park. I have pictures of family picnics there.

    1. Pat,

      Dennis Scivally Park was originally named Ellis Park.

      I bet you’re thinking of Wedekind Park. The Missourian had a brief Jan. 19, 1961, that said the park and its small wooded area would be left undisturbed when the I-55 interchange was built nearby.

      Wonder where the park went? It was lost in 1992 to provide a new entrance for the Missouri Veterans Home and “for future developments at the location.”

      The “improvements,” which resulted in the loss of a historic wooded park, were financed by MidAmerica Hotels, Inc.

      Dan Drury, vice president of operations for MidAmerica Hotels, was quoted as saying, “Overall, you will see a safer traffic area than you have ever seen before. Our property is there also. This will benefit both of us.”

      MidAmerica Hotels owns property on all four corners at the I-55 intersection, The Missourian reported.

      Reader response used words like “rape,” “outrage” and “criminal.”

  18. I was one of those brownies that had day camp at the park. We were there when Cape was having the 100 yr or 150 yr celebration one year. My sister, Tina Tipton, got hit with a rock down by the creek. It was a head wound and bled like hell. Some man with a full beard picked her up, and I’ll never forget all the blood in his beard.
    Then, later, we moved right down the street from the park. Always so serene, I used to walk down to the park, stand on the bridge, and wonder what my life would become.

  19. I grew up on Scivally Dr. I walked through that park everyday to go to school at Alama Schrader. It was the best! After my Mothers passing a tree was planted in her honor in that park. I still visit it to this day.

  20. Seems there are a lot of us who “grew up” in DS park. Our backyard ran into the park and my brother and I spent hours fishing in the creek for crawdads with hot dogs as bait. Lots of good memories!

  21. I noticed someone mentioned the copperhead snakes. I don’t think I ever explored Dennis Scivally Park without running across at least one copperhead snake. Other park areas had them, too, of course. It is Southeast Missouri!

    1. I guess I was lucky (or unobservant). I never saw any snakes when I was playing around there.

      (They weren’t offering you apples, were they? That darned Eve got us into a mess of trouble fooling around with apple-bearing snakes.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *