May 27, 2016
We left Carlyle, Illinois about noon and headed to St. Louis, Missouri, to the home of Ulysses S. Grant. The property is called White Haven and used to be a working plantation, growing various crops. It was owned by Frederick Dent, who had a daughter named Julia. In the 1840s Grant courted Julia and they were married. They raised a family and farmed Dent’s land in the 1850s.
Unfortunately, there was considerable disharmony between Dent and Grant because Dent was a slave owner and Grant’s parents had raised him to believe that slavery was wrong. After the Civil war was over, Grant returned to White Haven and worked in the fields, side-by-side with the Dent slaves. In the 1860s he purchased the property from Julia’s father and siblings.
Coincidentally, the acreage adjacent to Grant’s home was bought by Anheuser Busch, which is home-based in St. Louis. We were happy to see several paddocks surrounded by gleaming white fences, where Clydesdale horses were grazing. We were at least able to get a picture of them, though from a distance.
Next we drove into the city hoping to get close to the arch. But there was construction all over the site. Parking was almost non existent for RVs, so we finally parked in a city bus drop off. It was so late that hardly any of them were running. We had planned on getting a picture right beside the base of the arch, to compare it to the one we took over 40 years ago. But we discovered that it was surrounded by a 6 ft. high fence. What a disappointment!
Yet, even with the fence in the way, one can’t help but realize that the arch is really a remarkable structure. It stands 630 ft. high and is made of stainless Steel. We did get a couple of photos from a distance. Though I’m embarrassed to admit this, I did not remember that the arch was built to memorialize the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Westward Expansion of the United States.
Because of the parking issue, we decided to continue on our journey, stopping about 10p.m. to spend the night in a Wal-Mart parking lot. (They certainly are handy while we are traveling in the RV.)
May 28, 2016
Today we traveled to Arrow Rock, Missouri, which is about half way between St. Louis and Kansas City. Clark noted this in his journal on 6/9/1804 as they passed the area along the river. We parked the RV and followed a trail through the woods, assuming it would lead to the rock. But we ended up in a campground. It was very pretty, clean and quiet, so we paid to stay the rest of the day and evening.
The park ranger came up and I asked him how we could find arrow rock. He explained that the name is really a misnomer arising from the incorrect translation from Indian to French to English. The actual meaning is that this is a place where arrows were made from the rock.
We took down the bikes and rode into town, which is only seven blocks long and three blocks wide. It is a small village with limestone gutters along the streets and wooden sidewalks. One of the town’s landmarks is a brick tavern that dates back to 1834. We had hoped to eat there today, but they were closed. That was quite surprising to us, as this is Memorial Day Weekend.
One of the town’s primary sources of income is the Lyceum Theatre, which draw people from both St. Louis and Kansas City, to see “Broadway caliber” plays and musical performances. Another “landmark” in Arrow Rock is the “Calaboose”, a tiny 1873 stone jail. It has only housed one prisoner and when his yelling began to annoy the neighbors, he was released. It stories like this that make our travels so much fun.