Licking the Arkansas Arch

Jessica Cyders at Gateway Arch 11-04-2013_9935When Curator Jessica made her initial pilgrimage from Ohio to Missouri last December, I convinced her that every first-time visitor to St. Louis’ Gateway Arch has to lick the stainless steel icon.

She was a mere child of 29 at that time, and gullible.

Not falling for it at the state line

Jessica Cyders at MO - Ark arch 10-31-2014_4265When I asked David Kelley of Steele, Mo., if the old concrete arch over U.S. 61 at the Missouri – Arkansas border was still standing, he said, “Yep. It’s still there. It’s only eight miles away, let’s go see it, then go down to the Dixie Pig in Blytheville for lunch.”

U.S. Route 61 is the official designation for the highway that runs from New Orleans, past Memphis, past Cape Girardeau and St. Louis, ending up in Wyoming, Minn.This section through Arkansas was once a dirt trail called the North-South Road, and was in such poor shape that it might take as much as a full day to cover 15 miles.

Highway 61 called the Great River Road because it parallels the Mississippi River a good part of its run. It also answers to the name “Blues Highway” because of the path it takes through Blues country.

Now that she’s put 30 birthday candles in her back pocket and done several thousand Steinhoff Road Miles, Curator Jessica is older and wiser. She wasn’t falling for the old Lick the Arch trick twice. She did agree to risk death by posing under the arch so you could get an idea of its scale, roughly 15 feet high and 20 feet wide at the base.

Almost a lick

Jessica Cyders at MO - Ark arch 10-31-2014_4267I didn’t realize until I was editing the photos that she DID fake an almost-lick for the camera. I guess that’s close enough.

The arch was created by the Mississippi County Road Improvement District in 1924. Check out what the National Registry of Historic Places says about the arch and what Arkansas highways were like in the first quarter of the 20th Century. It’s a fun read and will make you appreciate modern roadways.

I love this part: The location of the arch on the directly south of the Arkansas-Missouri state lines had a somewhat strange economic effect. Highway 61 runs primarily north to south, but at the state line the road runs east to west for a distance of approximately one-half of a mile. The state line is located directly north of the section of  highway.

A lower gasoline and cigarette tax in Missouri led to a concentration of businesses on the north side of the highway. At one time there were as many as fourteen service stations lined up along the “line”. Along with the service stations came several nightclubs and small gambling houses. The area around the arch became known as “Little Chicago” because of the type of activity that went on there. A long-time resident of nearby Yarbo, Arkansas, once said of the arch, “It was a good place to go while the wife and kids were in church.”

Click on the photos to make them larger.

Missourian Equipment Move

Missouiran equipment moveIt looks like a heavy piece of equipment is being taken out of The Southeast Missourian building. It’s hard for me to tell what it is, but I think it might be a plate maker that etched the zinc plates used to make halftone photos. The man on the left in the patterned shirt is one of the many Hohlers who were responsible for producing the paper. I just can’t remember which one he is.

A balcony for parades

Missouiran equipment moveThat balcony opened off the newsroom, so it was a perfect place to watch the parades go by.

Missourian Building a landmark

Missouiran equipment moveThe Missourian building may not be as iconic from a distance as the Common Pleas Courthouse or Academic Hall’s dome, but it’s a Cape landmark, nonetheless. If you are interested in the history of the building, here’s a link to the National Register of Historic Places registration form.

Spooky place at night

Missouiran equipment moveI loved sitting up in the newsroom all by myself at night. It was a great place to do my homework. There were three police monitors hanging from a shelf on a column that would occasionally crackle to life from time to time with some minor call that I could usually ignore. In fact, over the years, I got to where I could pretty much tune out the sound of the cops and robbers in the background until I heard a change in voice stress and cadence, then I’d perk up.

The spooky part was the Western Union Clock on the wall. Every hour, it would make a sound as it synchronized itself with the mother ship, wherever it was. Even though I knew what it was and should have been expecting, I’d always jump.

Of all the places I worked, I don’t think any felt more like a newsroom “home” to me.

Shooting from the balcony

G.D. Fronabarger, Southeast Missourian photographerLooks like I got the high ground on this occasion. I snapped off a photo of One-Shot Frony standing on the sidewalk while I was on the balcony.

Klostermann Block

Klostermann Block on S Spanish 04-07-2011What has been called the “Klostermann Block” never flew above my radar. I guess I never had any business there.

The building on the west side of Spanish Street south of Independence is on the National Register of Historic Places for some of its unique features. If you are interested in Cape history and architecture, it’s worth a read.

Who was Klostermann?

Klostermann Block on S Spanish 04-07-2011

More interesting to me than the building is Louis F. Klostermann, who was born in Germany in 1837. He arrived in Cincinnati in the 1850’s and clerked in a dry goods store there. He came to Cape in 1860 and was wounded in the Battle of Vicksburg in 1862. He returned to Cape and was appointed postmaster. In 1882, he was one of 18 prominent citizens who formed the Cape Girardeau Building and Loan Association.

He served as State Representative in 1884 and 1885. When he returned from doing that, he bought Rockport Hall, the mansion of Josef Hoche on South Spanish. It was torn down in the 1930s to build the Knights of Columbus building.

In 1887, he purchased all the assets of Warren and Bierwirth Manufacturing and Merchandising Company on Spanish Street. He began operating a store there as the “Bee” Store, which was described as “one of Cape Girardeau’s chief mercantile establishments” in 1915. He also owned the former Cape Girardeau Woolen Mill which generated the first electric power in town.

He invested in several manufacturing enterprises, including the Cape Girardeau Box and Veneer Company and the Cape Girardeau Foundry.

This building is all that is left

Klostermann Block on S Spanish 04-07-2011After the turn of the century, he built the the commercial block next to his “Bee” Store for rental purposes. He had the old mill building enlarged into a modern factory which became the Ely and Walker Shirt Factory Number 2. He invested heavily in the Cape Girardeau Water and Electric Light Company and in the 1906 Southeast Missouri Trust Company. After his death in 1909, his widow continued his commercial activity through 1929, when she sold the buildings.

Of all the buildings associated with Louis Klostermann, only his rental building here remains. His home was demolished for the KC Hall, his Bee Store was destroyed by fire in 1989 and his factory burned in 1913.


Millikan Motor Company

Old Millikan Motor Co - 221 Independence Street 03-02-2013The two buildings at 221 Independence haven’t changed much over the years. I thought they were where Firestone was located and where Dad worked years and years ago, but Mother said I was wrong about that.

Here’s what the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Main-Spanish Commercial Historic District has to say about the property:

221 Independence – These twin Streamline Moderne buildings were built for Jessie Millikan to house the Millikan Motor Co. The eastern building was constructed in 1941 as a showroom and included several garage bays and a paint bay to service the automobiles. The Streamline Moderne style is characterized by the horizontality of the facade which is emphasized by the use of rounded corners, smooth wall surfaces, glass blocks and flat roofs.

West building added in 1950s

Old Millikan Motor Co - 221 Independence Street 03-02-2013To accommodate the growing needs of the company, a twin building with rounded corners, smooth wall surfaces, and glass blocks was constructed to the west in the early 1950s prior to 1955. A driveway runs between the two buildings. In 1996 a residence was added to the rear of the east building and connects to the location of the original paint bay. The addition is not visible from the street.

Little built during ’30s and ’40s

Old Millikan Motor Co - 221 Independence Street 03-02-2013The Haarig Commercial Historical District National Register mentioned the buildings:

Due to the economic constraints of the Great Depression and America’s involvement in World War II, little construction took place in downtown Cape Girardeau during the 1930s and 1940s. The popular Art Deco and Art Moderne styles of this period are limited in the city. A few notable examples include the one-story commercial building at 221 Independence Street. This building was constructed ca. 1935 and reflects the Art Moderne style with a curved corner and structural glass blocks.