Free the Plants!

Plaza Galleria 04-16-2011About this time in 2011, I wrote about a spooky place in Cape where I swore I could hear plants screaming. The Plaza Galleria, behind the Town Plaza Shopping Center, had been closed since 2005, but the plants in the lobby had been left behind. (You can click on the photos to make them larger or follow the link to see more examples.)

Plaza Galleria is out of sci-fi movie

Plaza Galleria 04-16-2011There must have been enough roof leaks to water the plants and keep some of them alive, with their leaves pressed against the glass lobby’s window panes like they were trying to get out. Some didn’t make it.

Missourian reporter Shay Alderman had a story in Wednesday’s paper that the Plaza Galleria is scheduled to be razed in the next few weeks. The building held the area’s first supermarket in 1969, and served as an ice skating rink in the 1980s.

Dying plant in the Royal N’Orleans

Royal N'Orleans 04-14-2011I started looking for orphaned plants in closed buildings. Here’s one in the Royal N’Orleans from April 2011. Looking through the window at tables still covered with tablecloths was sad enough, but the neglected plant gave the 1806 landmark a real feeling of being abandoned.

Cairo storefront

Closed storefront - Cairo - 07-04-2011I spotted these plants on the 4th of July 2011 in what I took to be some kind of government office in Cairo. I didn’t know if the office had closed or if the occupants were just careless in their watering.

Some managed to escape

Cairo 11-13-2012When I went back in November 2012, the office was empty. Someone must have taken the plants that were still alive.

Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church

Mt Moriah Missionary Baptist Church - Cairo - 01-28-2013This plant was behind a window in the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo.

Blomeyer Drive-In screen being eaten

Montgomery Drive-in in Blomeyer 03-20-2010The concrete Montgomery Drive-In screen in Blomeyer looks like it’s being devoured by something out of one of the sci-fi movies that once played on it.


Dredge Ste. Genevieve

Huge crowds turned out to tour the Corps of Engineers Dredge Ste. Genevieve in the middle 1960s. I tried to find the story associated with the photos, but came up blank. The “Genny,” as she was called by the men who worked aboard her for more than half a century, was built in 1932 by Dravo Corp. at Neville Island in the Ohio River at Pittsburgh.

Last stern-wheeler

The Ste. Genevieve, the last steam-powered stern-wheeler cutterhead dredge to be operated by the Corps, was retired in 1984. A story by David Hente June 18, 1994, tells of its sad end. Or, at least part of it. After it was retired, it spent several years in Davenport, Ia., where it was supposed to be turned into a museum. That never happened.

Donated to Marine Learning Institute

In 1992, the General Services Administration donated the craft to the Marine Learning Institute, which had offices in Missouri and Maryland. The institute wanted to turn the boat into a floating museum and educational center on the banks of the Missouri River at St. Charles. That didn’t happen, either.

The next plan was to put it at the corps’ environmental demonstration area on the Mississippi River at a former marina at West Alton, Ill. That also didn’t come to pass.

Sank in 1992 near Cairo

While the institute was trying to find a permanent home for the dredge, they received an invitation from the city of Cincinnati to bring the dredge to its Tall Stacks ’92 festival on the Ohio River. It was towed to a staging area below Cairo to wait for a ride up the Ohio. While it was there, it sank on Oct. 1, 1992. After spending 31 days on the river bottom, it was raised, emergency repairs were made to its hull and it was towed to the Missouri Dry Dock and Repair Service in Cape for permanent repairs.

Repairs and wrangling

After the Ste. Genevieve made it to Cape, there was a two-month delay, but the repairs were finally made to its hull in 1993. The shipyard placed a lien on the boat because the Marine Institute didn’t have enough money to pay for the repairs. The repaired dredge was put back into the water and remained docked in the shipyard while the legal wrangling went on through the rest of 1993 and early 1994.

Sank again in March 1994

On March 10, 1994, for reasons unknown, the Ste. Genevieve ended up on the river bottom again. That brought about even more legal squabbling. The Missouri Dry Dock owner, Rob Erlbacher, said he wanted to cut it ip for scrap to get it out of the way. “I want to see the boat removed regardless of what it takes to do it. We need to get it out of here.”

More grand plans

The institute argued that the boat was worth $775,000. Richard Wooten, a spokesman said that a number of groups were interested in preserving the boat. “After the Genny is raised, we intend to take her to Ft. Meyers, Fla., where the Ford Foundation and the Edison Foundation have placed $500,000 in their budget for a permanent berthing area for the vessel as a museum and educational center,” he told The Missourian.

The sad end

I don’t know what finally happened to the Genny, but based on photos I saw of its paddle wheels on the LittleRiverBooks website, I’m pretty sure she never made it to Ft. Meyers. Here is a photo showing only the stacks and pilot house sticking up out of the water. Dan Back photographed the stacks and pilothouse with the dry dock in the background; the stacks were removed eventually and sent off to be dismantled. During the high water, spring 1995, she was completely under water.

Here is a photo of the “recovery” effort. It’s the last mention of the Ste. Genevieve in The Missourian.

Ste. Genevieve photo gallery

Here’s a collection of all the photos I could find of the dredge’s visit to Cape Girardeau. They remind me a little of when I photographed the Delta Queen taking on passengers in Cairo in 1968. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.









Bridges and Goodbyes

I really enjoyed my visit to Cape, but it was time to get back to Florida. Judge Bill Hopkins said he had gotten a call from Wife Lila asking how long I had to be gone before she could have me declared legally dead.

Since I was headed that way, Mother said she’d follow me in her car (for the record, she may be 90, but she’s still a good driver) over to her trailer on Kentucky Lake so I could help her turn on the water and check for any problems.

Not surprisingly, it took me longer than anticipated to get everything loaded in my van. Because of the late start, we didn’t waste any time sightseeing along the way. I did bang off a couple of frames as we headed over the Ohio River bridge leaving Cairo for Wickliffe. You can tell that it’s about as wide as the old Cape Mississippi River Bridge (plus it’s got that crazy 90-degree bend on the Kentucky end).

35 years

The pipes at the trailer froze winter before last, so she had to have them replaced. When I went to turn on the water, nothing happened. After much head scratching and mosquito swatting, I discovered that they had moved the main shutoff valve. I decided to stay there overnight instead of pressing on to Nashville as I had planned.

By coincidence, we were there on August 7, 35 years to the day when Dad had a heart attack at the lake and died. When folks posted stories this week about it being the week that Elvis died, I tell ’em that my dad died that week too; the difference is that I don’t miss Elvis.

We were going to eat breakfast, but the place we planned on stopping at was closed, so we said our goodbyes at a gas station. I’m getting a little better at the teenage girl self-portrait thing. My arm must be getting longer.

More narrow bridges

I’m glad I’m not pulling a travel trailer or driving an 18-wheeler. These bridges linking sections of the Land Between the Lakes are narrow and showing their age. At one time, I could have told you what body of water these cross, but I have long ago jettisoned that knowledge.

I covered the aftermath of the Silver Bridge collapse on Dec. 15, 1967. The eyebar-chain suspension bridge linking Point Pleasant, W Va., and Gallipolis, Oh., failed while it was filled with rush-hour holiday shoppers. Forty-six people died in the icy waters of the Ohio River.

When I cross a bridge with a lot of rust on it, I wonder whether it’s cosmetic or whether it’s another Silver Bridge waiting to happen.

Photo gallery of Kentucky bridges

I think the shadows of the bridge structure are interesting. I have to admit I wasn’t doing any careful composing. I was just holding the camera with one hand and trying to keep from scraping the bridge railing with the other. I didn’t see the shadows until I saw them on the computer screen. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.



Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.