Nash Road Transportation Corridor

When bicycle tourist John Gorentz, AKA Spokesrider, passed through Cape on his way from Michigan to New Madrid, I tried to pick him a better route to follow than the Missouri River Trail that runs through the hills and curves of New Hamburg. One alternative was to take Nash Road. Unfortunately, at that time is was a dusty gravel road. On a recent trip to the airport to eat, we decided to see if the road was finished. It is and it is really nice. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Bloymeyer roundabout

When I was flying aerials in November 2010, I noticed the Bloymeyer roundabout joining Nash Road, Hwy 25 and Hwy 77 had been completed. In this photo, Nash Road comes in from the top left. Hwy 25 from Jackson and Dutchtown is on the lower left and then turns to the right to go to Advance and Bloomfield. Hwy 77, at the top right, goes to Chaffee.

Mario’s Pasta House and a water hole is opening up at the intersection to take advantage of the traffic coming off I-55 and headed through. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other businesses open up, maybe even the old Montgomery Drive-in.

A nail in the coffin for Dutchtown

This is going to put another nail in the coffin of Dutchtown. Northbound I-55 traffic headed to towns south and west of Cape won’t have to go all the way to Hwy 74 and then through Dutchtown. It’ll be able to take a fast (60 mph), straight road with good shoulders straight down to Hwy 25. There’s not much out there yet except farm land, so there aren’t many driveways and side roads to watch.

When Hwy 74 floods at Dutchtown, which it seems to be doing more and more often, traffic has to go all the way to Jackson to get through. Nash Road is on the dry side of the Diversion Channel, so the highway department won’t have any incentive to raise the roadbed in Dutchtown to keep it above water.

Nash Road: south of Diversion Channel

Nash Road starts south of the Diversion Channel and north of the Cape Girardeau Airport.

Road is a shipping hub

I was surprised at the number of warehouses and depots that have grown up on the road.

Railroad derailment

In early October, 15 empty cars on a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train derailed on the tracks that parallel Nash Road. Nobody was injured and no hazardous chemicals were involved, The Missourian reported. I include these photos only because you could see them from Nash Road and because Keith Robinson, a railroad buff, is a regular reader.

Nash Road photo gallery

Here is a gallery of photos taken of and on Nash Road. Click on any image to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.


Do These Photos Say Cape?

I have a friend who was looking for some stock photos of Cape to use as headers on a web page. I started poking around and came up with these old and new photos that I think capture some of the spirit of the town.

The biggest challenge was finding pictures that would fit the exact format shape – a skinny horizontal.

Photographers HATE to shoot for shape

Photographers HATE going out to shoot for shape. We always figured that was a sign that the page designer was too lazy to work with the most story-telling photos on deadline. He wanted to dummy the page early so he could go home early.

Photographers, of course, believe that every photograph is perfectly composed. Some would express that conceit by printing their photos “full frame” with black borders that indicated that the picture had not been cropped. (Guilty as charged.)

Of course, as a guy who had to do his own layouts, I found that sometimes cropping the photo made the page look a lot better. It was OK if I did it; it was a mortal sin if someone else did it.

Photo gallery

Since I’m not exactly sure what my friend is looking for, I’ve pulled together photos that you’ve seen before and some that were in the pipeline. I’m curious to see what you think best says “Cape Girardeau.”

If she uses any, I’ll post the website address. As always, click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.


Shoe Factory Neighborhood

I can’t believe I missed this aerial photo of the old shoe factory plant I shot April 14, 1964, when I ran the piece on the site being the new home of the Isle of Capri Casino. You can clearly see the infamous jog in Main Street that will be straightened.

Jog provided challenge

Reader John Burciaga shared this story about the jog: My only brother, Joe, Jr., 9 years older, was quite adventurous as a youngster. He and a buddy used to race side by side from downtown Main St. to the shoe factory site, where the sharp “dogleg” zig-zags left-to-right. This was always late at night, being careful police cars were not around, or traffic from the opposite direction. He never got hurt but I recall he tore a door off–reminding me a bit of the movie Rebel Without A Cause and the great chase to see who would bail out of his auto first before the drop-off.

This undated wreck photo from the 60s probably wasn’t caused by the zig-zag. It happened north of the jog and the car was southbound. You can barely see a building in the background that says “Cafe and Tavern.” The 1969 City Directory didn’t list the full name of the establishment.

Windows were painted

This shot of the wreck from the other direction shows the heavy-duty power lines feeding into the shoe factory and the painted windows. The only reason I can think for painting the windows would be to diffuse the light coming through them so there wouldn’t be any glare inside.

Old building at bottom of Mill Street

This old building at the bottom of Mill Street and south of the shoe factory, was still there in the spring when I shot a freight train going by.

Fairway Market No. 2

Missourian photographer Fred Lynch ran a Frony photo of shoe factory workers on strike in 1962 in his blog Dec. 3, 2010. He identified a building in the background as being the Fairway Market No. 2.

It’s been a number of things in the intervening years. Oct. 20,2009, a sign on the front of the building said that it was NOW OPEN as Margarita Mama’s. I don’t know how long they lasted or if they are still open. The Missourian had a number of stories detailing problems with the establishment’s liquor license.

I did see a notice that a tax lien against the property was discharged Dec. 10 of this year.

Red Star Baptist Church

The Red Star Baptist Church is outside the casino area, as far as I know, but I’m tossing in a photo of it since it’s been a Red Star landmark. I remember it being right on the edge of the flood waters in 1993. I’ll revisit that area when those negatives surface.

Train Crews Still Wave

My mother and I were cruising down by Missouri Drydocks at the end of the day, when I heard a train whistle off in the direction of downtown. I thought this might make a cool shot that tied together the river, auto traffic on the bridge and a train whizzing by. If a plane would just fly into the frame and someone would walk by, I’d have all forms of transportation covered in one photo.

I waited several minutes. No train. It was chilly and windy so I started back to the car.

The train whistled again. I waited several minutes. No train.

I started back to the car. The train whistled. This dance continued until I convinced myself that the train was northbound away from me.

Of course, as soon as I got under the bridge, I met a southbound short freight that had a caboose on it. I hadn’t seen a caboose on a working train in years. I wrote it off as a missed opportunity.

I’m a sucker for trains

I remember the trip to Chaffee in grade school. When I was 14, I went to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico by train; I rode the train to and from college in Athens, Ohio; I did at least a dozen stories about trains over the years, and that doesn’t count the crashes and feature shots like this one from Ohio I used to illustrate a rail strike. The unbroken frost on the tracks got the point across that the trains weren’t running.

I rode a freight train

I spent a few nights riding a local freight dropping cars up and down the Florida East Coast line. (I knew every car that approached a crossing in front of us was going to try to beat the train and we were going to hit it. I’m not cut out to be an engineer.)

I’ve done a story on a T&S Gang, the guys who used to swing sledge hammers driving spikes in the days before mechanization. Discrimination was alive and well: white workers ate on plates in a sparkling white car; black workers were served on tin plates in a car that looked like it was left over from the Civil War.

I went from West Palm Beach to Chicago and back on the Silver Meteor;  my wife and I took the train to and from Washington, D.C. in 2003. Unfortunately, many of the stories were “last ride” ones marking the demise of rail service.

The caboose is back

We were in the downtown area when I spotted the caboose on the north end of a northbound short string of freight cars moving slowly. I sped ahead to the pumping station on N. Main where the shoe factory used to be and hopped out to shoot from the floodwall side of the tracks toward an old brick building that looked like it had been abandoned.

As the caboose pulled slowly past me, BNSF conductor Randy Graviett gave me a friendly wave.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe

I’m going to show my age by admitting that I think Frisco when I see those tracks. It took a Google search to find out that BNSF stands for Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Over the last 150 years, it’s the result of mergers that have gobbled up 390 different railroad lines.

Frisco, which was chartered as the Pacific Railroad of Missouri in 1849, looked like it was poised to take advantage of the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill in California, but construction bogged down until the Civil War ended.

Cherokee Indians block Frisco expansion

In 1876, the southwest branch of the Pacific was purchased by the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, but Cherokee Indians blocked survey and construction work on the line, keeping it from establishing a transcontinental railroad. The Depression took its toll, but German U-boats sinking tankers in the Atlantic during World War II created a need for a way to transport Texas and Oklahoma oil to the East Coast. Frisco became a valuable contributor to the war effort.

Burlington Northern acquired the Frisco in 1980. You can read more of the history at the BNSF web site.

Railcars decorated with graffiti

While I was waiting for the train to clear the track, I was treated to a moving art show of graffiti. These weren’t just sloppy “tags” with a spray can. Some of the works showed a nice use of color and design.

Tom T. Hall was wrong

Tom T. Hall sings a lament with the chorus,

But the engineers don’t wave from the trains anymore
Not the way they did back in 1954
They’ve all got computers and diesels and things
And the engineers don’t wave from the trains anymore
No, the engineers don’t wave from the trains.

Tom should pay a visit to Cape Girardeau. When the engine came to a stop just about in front of me, brakeman Randy Stroup gave a wave and asked if I was working on the floodwall. I said that I was taking pictures of his caboose and tried to hand him my business card.

He stepped out of the cab and we had a brief chat while the train waited for a red signal to clear. The caboose is used on the local freight spotting cars between Chaffee and Proctor & Gamble. When I commented that it was unusual to see two engines on a train that short, he said they had just gotten the second power plant “because we’ve been dealing with more tonnage lately. We hope to be able to hang on to it.”

With that, the train was given clearance to pull ahead and he was gone.

A reader in the wild

I figured that was the end of it until I got home to see this email from Kim Richmond waiting for me:

Ken, my friend was on the caboose that you took picture of today, so if you will be so kind to e-mail me when you post it I would appreciated it. His name is Randy Graviett, you also spoke to Randy Stroup. I showed them your website and have told several other people about it since I found it. I look every day or every evening to catch up on all that I have missed. How long have you been posting? Do you have any pictures of the old Sunny Hill Hotel and Restaurant or the Country store? When I was younger that was a treat to go the the Country store and Sunny Hill for ice cream. If we had extra money when I was younger we would go to Woolworth’s and have a grilled hot dog and go across the street and visit my mother who worked at Montgomery Wards or as they use to say “Monkey Wards”

Wow. I wrote about the excitement of meeting a “reader in the wild” on my other blog.

This is a first for me. I’ve never had a reader chase me down for a photo I shot BEFORE it was published. Cape is truly the land of coincidences.

Frisco Railroad Library

If you’re a train buff, interested in railroad history or want to find out more about the Frisco Railroad, here’s a great site.