2012 Top 10 Posts

Cape Girardeau Central High School girls in physical education uniformsNews outlets always run Top 10 stories at the end of the year because (a) they are usually short-staffed; (b) readers and viewers are busy with family activities and drop off; (c) it’s easy and can be done in advance, and (d) it’s traditional. So, for all of those reasons, except (c), here are the highest-read pages of 2012.

A 2010 post about the old gym uniforms topped the 2012 list because it went viral on another site. It was viewed 3,576 times.

#2 Simon and Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel concert Ohio University 10-29-1968I covered Simon and Garfunkel at Ohio University in 1968. This story was seen by 1,736 readers.

#3 Johnson’s Shut-ins

Johnson's Shut-In State Park circa 1978I was hoping to get back to update my Johnson Shut-Ins photos last summer but didn’t make it. Still, 1,674 folks looked at my old pictures.

#4 Queen Elizabeth II

web 1024 Queen Elizabeth layoutMy tale of getting to cover Queen Elizabeth II in the Bahamas because I was the only guy on the staff with a suit ranked 4th, with 1,462 views.

#5 David Holley’s obituary

David Holley of Wittenberg 07-18-2011David Holley, the last man living in Wittenberg and a storyteller supreme died April 11 of lung cancer. I only talked with the man twice, but he’s a character I’ll remember forever. His wife, Joanne, lives in one of only two buildings left in the once-vibrant Mississippi River town

#6 Low water exposed Tower Rock Quarry

Tower rock and quarry at low water 10-28-2011Low river levels has put Tower Rock in the news. A November 2011 story on the abandoned quarry south of The Rock was viewed 1,193 times.

#7 Geocachers conquer Tower Rock

Tower Rock geocachers 08-04-2012_6180

I was hoping the river would drop low enough for me to walk over to Tower Rock like Brother Mark and I did in 2003. It didn’t quite make it, and I didn’t want to take my inaugural kayak ride solo in the Mississippi River when these geocachers made the climb. The page was viewed 1,120 times, and 407 people clicked through to watch the video I produced about the day.

#8 “Rush Limbaugh is a horse’s patootie”

1024 Rush Limbaugh on Cape Girardeau's Floodwall 04-12-2011_3594I was interviewing Wife Lila’s Uncle Ray Seyer on a wide-ranging number of topics. Somehow or another, Rush Limbaugh came up. He described the high school Rush as a “horse’s patootie” for the way he monopolized the CB radio channels even when truckers were trying to get directions to local businesses. The page had 1,104 visitors.

#9 Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh

1969 Girardot Rush Limbaugh senior photo P 132A 2010 story pointing out the coincidence of Koran burner Terry Jones and Rush Limbaugh both being members of the Cape Central Class of 1969 is still getting hits. It came in 9th with 1,099 readers.

#10 Lila turns fire photographer

Fire Wilmot and Georgia 05-21-2012I was running some errands when a warehouse across the street from our house exploded into flames. Wife Lila dialed 9-1-1, then grabbed her camera and started shooting. The West Palm Beach Fire Marshall and 1,099 other readers were interested in her handiwork.

Remember my Amazon link

Buy From Amazon.com to Support Ken SteinhoffIf you were one of the folks who stopped by 357,930 times during the year, don’t forget to place your Amazon orders by clicking on this big button or on the links at the top left of the page. I get a small percentage to keep the lights on and it doesn’t cost you anything extra.





Geocachers Conquer Tower Rock


A group of determined geocachers showed up at Tower Rock Saturday morning hoping they’d be able to walk across to The Rock. It’s going to have to drop at least two more feet to be able to do that safely. Fortunately, Stan and Martha Koeller brought two kayaks with them and were more than willing to share.

The only catch was that they were boats built for one. Stan explained that kayaks are different from canoes: if you spill a kayak, it doesn’t necessarily dump you out. You sometimes stay IN the kayak while it’s upside down. This is really NOT a good thing. Cats are supposed to have nine lives. I’m not sure how many I have, but I was pretty sure I didn’t have that many left to spare. I opted to stay on the shore.

Video of Tower Rock Challenge

It’s worth a look, even if I have to say so myself.

Photo gallery of the assault on Tower Rock

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

Eyeing The Rock

The Mississippi River keeps creeping lower and lower. On July 19, the Cape river gauge read 11.23. On August 2, it was down to 9.35. That’s not good enough. It needs to be at 7.0 feet in Cape to be able to walk across to Tower Rock, locals tell me. Here’s where you can check the river stage at Cape. By the way, you can click any photo to maker it larger.

Itchin’ to go

Members of the Southeast Missouri Geocaching fan page are just itching to get on top of Tower Rock so they can claim bragging rights to an exotic cache. If you’ve never heard of the hobby, here’s a website that does a good job of explaining it.

I was going to meet Cacher Randy Friday to see if we thought it was safe to make it to The Rock for the rest of the group on Saturday. Unfortunately, I have to swing by LeGrand Bros. Transmissions first. My check engine light came on and I wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious before being That Guy stuck on the side of the road with his hood up and a mournful expression on his puss. You might recall the sad story of my transmission from last year.

Anyway, a nice guy hooked up a $9,300 computer to my car, went for a short test drive and said I needed a new throckmorton that bolts onto the franjipannni. The good news is that it’s on the exterior of the trannie and shouldn’t take more than two heartbeats and a hamburger to fix. (Once the part gets here, that is.) The best news is that it’s covered under warranty.

So, if Sir Randy gives me the All Clear, I’ll sound the trumpets and a whole herd of folks will be hanging all over The Demon The Devours Travelers on Saturday. If not, they’ll try next weekend. I just won’t be there to see it.

Surely they need a souvenir

Maybe they’ll stop by the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum where they can pick up a souvenir copy of my book on Tower Rock.


Cacher Randy called around 10 a.m. to say that it’s a no-go. He waded out until the water was waist-deep (deeper than I would have gone) and felt the current “tugging” at him. He decided to turn back. Wise decision. He also noted that the bottom was slippery.

How do I get there?

A reader asked how to get there. This map shows you the scenic way I get to Altenburg on my bike. In my Tower Rock book, I describe the path from Altenburg to Tower Rock this way:

Tower Rock isn’t some place you stop on the way to somewhere else. You have to REALLY want to go there.
You start by passing through Altenburg on Missouri Highwy A.
After going up and down some steep hills, just before you get to what’s left of the German pioneer village Wittenberg (population: two buildings and three people), you’ll see a small sign off to the right pointing to Perry County 460, a steep and washboarded gravel road.
Off to your left, you’ll pass the Texas-Illinois Natural Gas Pipeline bridge, called the longest suspension pipeline in the world. It carries gas from Texas to Chicago.
Not far from there, the road narrows. Now things get interesting if this is your first trip. You’ll make a sharp 90-degree bend to the left and cross over the BNSF railroad tracks and make an immediate right-hand 90-degree turn paralleling the river.  There are no warning devices, so Stop, Look and Listen before getting on the tracks.
The stretch along the river is narrow and there’s a steep drop-off to the water, but you seldom meet a car. Eventually, you’ll come upon a parking area at the Tower Rock Natural Area, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bussen to the Missouri Conservation Department.


Mother Nature’s a Tease

Mother and I took a swing over to Jackson so I could get my Wib’s BBQ fix. The sky to the west looked dark blue and the radar was painting lots of reds and yellows. As soon as the server had taken our order, there was a brilliant flash outside the window. To be on the safe side, I went out to the car to get the umbrella.

That probably doomed Mother’s corn crop down at Dutchtown. It didn’t rain at Wib’s. This guy’s field doesn’t look all that great, either.

I stood on a high piece of ground in Fruitland trying to get a look at a controversial quarry there. I missed a couple of good lightning bolts (they missed me, too. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this). No rain.

Egypt Mills Trinity Lutheran Church

After my presentation at the Altenburg Museum Tuesday night, Tom Neumeyer mentioned that he had seen a large Steinhoff headstone at the Trinity Lutheran Church at Egypt Mills.

So, we went out past the KFVS TV tower (once the world’s tallest structure), to check it out. We found several stones and recognized some of the names, but they weren’t part of our immediate clan.

I liked the look of this small outbuilding and took a couple of frames while being teased by rumbles and flashes. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Heat records shattered

Heat records are being shattered as are records for the number of days in a row the temperature has hit 100 or higher.  The last time St. Louis was this hot for this long was in 1936, said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Central Region Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. Then, the city recorded 13 days in a row of temperatures 100 degrees Fahrenheit or over. That devastating heat wave of the mid-’30s killed thousands of people and destroyed many crops.

We see clouds build up, hear thunder, see impressive radar returns, then the storms dissipate or split, going around Cape.

Hoping to walk to Tower Rock

The Southeast Missouri Geocaching folks are keeping a close eye on the Mississippi River gauges at Chester and Cape Girardeau. When the Chester gauge reads 0 and / or the Cape gauge reads 7, the water is low enough to walk across to Tower Rock, just south of Wittenberg. The gauges are at 5.39 and 11.23, with a gentle rise predicted.

Brother Mark and I picked our way to it October 12, 2003. He climbed to the top of the rock with his bicycle for reasons only he could explain.