Greetings from Cape Girardeau

I’m always looking for Cape memorabilia. I think I picked this Souvenir of Cape Girardeau postcard packet at Annie Laurie’s Antiques on one of my recent visits. It could have been mailed for 1.5 cents (without message) when it was new. (Click on any image to make it larger)

Sold at Strom’s News Agency

There’s a tiny note that says Strom’s News Agency, Cape Girardeau, Mo., on this sheet that has all kinds of factoids about Cape. I’m going to guess the information dates back to the late 20s or early 30s.

Bridge, bluffs and steam boats

The Mississippi River Traffic Bridge opened to traffic Aug. 22,1928, so this had to have been published after that.

The rock bluffs have me guessing unless they are on the stretch on South Sprigg south and west of the cement plant. I can’t think of any other bluffs that are that close to the highway on The Kings Highway. I’m not even sure that South Sprigg carried that moniker.

Someone much more ancient that me will have to come up with the last time three steam boats docked on Cape’s riverfront.

Is that the KFVS tower?

These postcards were hand-colored, so the artists had to make assumptions. Unless the facades changed, both the Common Pleas Courthouse and St. Vincent’s College were made of red brick.

The only radio tower that I can think of between Cape and Jackson was the KFVS Radio tower that I photographed in 2009. The one on the postcard doesn’t look like it’s on the crest of the hill but the perspective might be off.

Burfordville, Arena Building and SEMO

The Bollinger Mill and Covered Bridge at Burfordville looks pretty much like when I photographed them last year.

The Arena Building looks pretty much the same, too, but this was years before the Radio-Active Girl Scouts showed up there.

St. Vincent’s, Marquette and SE Hospital

Southeast Hospital certainly has changed a lot since this was taken.

The Marquette Hotel looked pretty close to this in the 60s when it was in the background of a fender-bender I covered at Broadway and Fountain. The artist missed on the color of the facade, though.

St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church has red brick in the real world, too.

St. Francis Hospital long gone

St. Francis Hospital was torn down in 2000.

They must have run out of things to show in Cape, because the rest of the images are from around the Big Springs region.

Curt Teich & Co.

As a photographer, I’m pretty careful about appropriating photos that others have taken because I don’t like mine to get ripped off. In tiny, tiny print there was a note that the Souvenir Folder was © Curt Teich & Co. Figuring the copyright had probably expired – or the company probably had – I Googled the name.

I had seen this style of card over the years, but I didn’t realize exactly how many the company had produced. There’s a whole collection of them that includes images of more than 10,000 cities and towns.

Burfordville Covered Bridge

Yesterday I wrote about the Bollinger Mill Historic Site. Here’s the other historic landmark that’s in Burfordville: the Burfordville Covered Bridge. It’s the oldest one in the state and one of only four to survive to this day.

The Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites webpage has a good history of the bridge.

According to the site, Joseph Lansmon began its construction in 1858, but it’s not clear if it was completed before or after the Civil War. It wasn’t mentioned in St. Louis newspaper accounts of the 1861 burning of Bollinger Mill, located next to it.

Bollinger Mill burned in Civil War

Union soldiers burned the mill to keep flour and grain out of rebel hands during the Civil War. All that remained was the foundation. Solomon R. Burford, for whom the town is named, rebuilt the mill in 1867 upon the original foundation.

Vertical iron rods tie trusses together

The bridge uses Howe-truss construction, which used vertical iron rods to draw the diagonal wooden members tight against the top and bottom of the truss.

The bridge, which spans the Whitewater River, is 140 feet long, 12 feet wide and has a clearance of 14 feet. It’s made mainly of yellow popular.

Initials carved into the wood

I always take the dates carved into landmarks with a grain of salt. The Bollinger Mill’s owner’s initials are carved on the wall inside the front door, so it’s possible that some of these  names and dates go back to the 1900s, but they sure look fresh to me.

Everywhere is a photographer

There must not be an inch nor an angle of the bridge left undocumented. I guess one advantage of digital photography is that the ground isn’t littered with film wrappers and boxes.

A site for family portrait

I could have run a whole sequence of what it took to get this one frame where all the kids are quiet and have nice expressions. The youngest was done with photography about three set-ups back and was throwing the fit of all fits. It reminded me of why I’m not a “kidnapper” who does photos of kids for a living.

Repairs cost $390 in 1908

The bridge sat on the toll road linking Burfordville, Jackson and Cape. Tolls were charged until 1906, when farmers, tired of waiting for the courts to abolish the tolls, broke down the gates and used the roads without paying.

The bridge fell into disrepair around the turn of the last century. The county paid $390 to repair the bridge. In 1950, a corrugated metal roof was added.

Mill and Bridge donated to state in 1967

The Cape Girardeau County Historical society donated the mill and bridge to the state for a park in 1967. They had acquired the properties from the Vandivort family, relatives of the Bollingers, for whom the mill was named. Some of the families connected with the bridge and mill added comments to yesterday’s post. They’re worth going back to read.

Closed to vehicles

I can remember a time when you could still drive across the bridge. A record flood in 1986 caused the Whitewater River to rise 17 inches above the road deck. It’s a wonder the pressure didn’t wash the whole structure away. As it was, it did move slightly, causing it to be closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Major repairs in 1998

The most recent major repairs were in the summer of 1998, when lower truss timbers, support timbers and vertical iron rods were replaced. Some damaged siding was replaced, but every attempt was made to avoid altering the appearance of the bridge. The 1950 metal roof was replaced with wood shingles in 1971, to keep it more like the original bridge.

Sprinkler system protects against fire

I was pleased to look up into the rafters to see a modern fire sprinkler to protect the bridge against one of its deadliest enemies – fire. If the Whitewater River doesn’t try to wash it away again, many more generations of feet should walk across these floorboards.


Bollinger Mill Historic Site

Burfordville has a historical two-fer: the Bollinger Mill Historic Site and the Burfordville Covered Bridge. I’ll post photos of the bridge tomorrow.

The Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites website says three mills have been located at this site over the last 200 years.Union forces burned the mill to keep flour and meal out of Rebel hands during the Civil War. Only the foundation remained.

Solomon R. Burford, for whom the town is named, rebuilt the mill in 1867 upon the original foundation. His initials are still visible on a wall inside the front door.

Tours of mill available

We just missed being able to tour the mill and watch corn being ground into meal by water power. During the winter season – November through March, tours are given by appointment only.

The Vandivort family, relatives of George F. Bollinger, bought the mill in 1953 and turned it over to the Cape Girardeau County Historical Society in 1961 which, in turn, donated it to the state park system in 1967.

You can see the hours at the website.

Dam creates water source

A dam holds back water that is diverted through a sluice gate into the mill. The dam was originally built of logs, but it was rebuilt in stone in 1824. The limestone foundation and dam still exist.

Sluice gate

Water enters the mill through this gate and passes through a water turbine.

Favorite place for photographs

The Mill and covered bridge are favorite photo stops for tourists. I met folks there from around the area, California and Texas (Florida, too, if you count me).

Despite that, I can’t think of any memorable photos I ever took at the park. I guess it always felt too “touristy” for my taste.

Bollinger Mill Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to select it, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see photos of the Burfordville Covered Bridge.