Shaw Nature Reserve

I am smitten with Shaw Nature Reserve in Eureka, Missouri.  It takes a little while to get there.  Highway 100 from my house there in forty minutes.

Three Weeks Ago The Nature Reserve Looked Like This:

Eureka, MissouriWe loaded into a huge wagon and rode around, learning lots while enjoying the view.

A few times we stopped to walk around a site.  We had excellent teachers.

We heard about planned burns, to take care of overgrowth, keep the area healthy, and return the area to a natural state.  Part of the new focus is allowing indigenous plants to thrive.  There are records sharing about the land when settlers arrived.

Bascom House at Shaw Nature Reserve “The Bascom House.”

The original farm belonged to Cuthbert S. Jeffries.  The brick house was built by his son-in-law, Confederate Colonel Thomas William Bouldin Crews in 1879.  It was a modern home for the times with bathrooms on each floor.

 He rode his horse to Pacific, Missouri to catch the train into St. Louis, to practice law.

The Missouri Botanical Garden purchased 1300 acres in 1925.  The Crews Farm comprised 320 of the original 1300 acres.

The home is called “The Bascom House” in honor of the the Missouri Botanical Garden Trustee who restored the home.  It is now open to the public.  There is a conference room, offices and a museum.

Shaw Nature ReserveWe stood in a shelter and listened to stories about the land, prairie, wet lands, old growth, from where we were standing all the way to the river.  Amazing things I hope to see with my own eyes someday.

Shaw Nature ReserveThis beautiful tree seems like a “who” to me.

Not so much a camera expert, many things were not captured.  Flocks of bluebirds.  Bluebirds are the state bird, until this day I’d only seen one.  They hang out here.

I saw a persimmon tree, flush with leaves and loaded with fruit.

 Turkey Vulture flew over.  Large, simply floating around in the sky.

My Next visit Scheduled Mid-November

Nature ReserveWhat will greet me?

Sure looking forward to it.

Beautiful Day in Benton Park

It was a Gorgeous Saturday.  I was out the door early, but – not early enough.  “The Garden” was surrounded by parking guards, whose job was keeping an overflow of vehicles from the lot.  Tower Grove Park was already wall to wall people.  It was time to find some quiet.  So, this week,  the learning curve of a new camera begins at Benton Park.

Pathway into Benton ParkI really like the Benton Park neighborhood.  It’s diverse, sweet to the eye and their history is rich with every kind of city story possible.  (and, I do mean, this part of St. Louis proper goes back to rowdier days.)  Someday I’ll take you for a cuppa and share stories, but today we’ll simply stroll around the park.

First of two Manmade Ponds in Benton Park, St Louis, MOBenton Park covers a little more than 14 acres.

Benton Park, St. Louis MO There are two man made lakes, a recreation building, playground, plenty of paths and nice places to sit and enjoy the day.

Kids Count, Benton Park, St. Louis, MOOkay, look at this fabulous – I don’t even know what to call it:

Benton Park, St Louis, MOThere’s a grassy field, a few picnic benches, and this cool looking place.  I wonder if they hold concerts here?

Beautiful Pond, Benton ParkThere’s another beautiful pond on the other side.

Sit and Enjoy the day, Benton Park, St Louis, MODuring early-ish 1800’s expansion of St. Louis, land from the city commons was set aside for parks, including Benton Park.  A small portion of this land was already fenced off as a cemetery.  But, in 1865 a city ordinance was passed and all remains were relocated.

View, Benton ParkOriginally this was called “City Park.”  It was renamed to honor Thomas Hart Benton, the first U.S. Senator representing Missouri.

Circling back around, there’s a memorial to Freidrich Hecker, a German-American Hero.  When the monument was officially installed, over 15,000 people attended the ceremony.

Benton Park, St. Louis, MOPlenty of celebrations are held at Benton Park.  The two that look interesting to me this year are the 150th Birthday Party on June 25th (2016,) and August 13th, we are invited to “Gospel In The Park.”    If it turns out to be great music, I might have to show up.

Lime Kiln

The answer to my “What is that?” outburst was, “It is a Lime Kiln.”

surprise in the woods, lime kilnForest and ferns all around and this tall chimney-ish whatever in the woods.  Missouri is full of surprises.

beautiful trees - beautiful forestI traveled out towards Wildwood, which used to seem far away, and used to be one of my favorite places.  Now the road is store after store all the way out to a new college and shopping center.  I saw a sign directing me to some woods and decided it would be a refreshing view.

forest viewI wondered if this was what the land looked like to early settlers, or maybe natives.  It sure seemed a good setting for a movie.

more lime kilns along the trailTurns out there was more to find than my performing arts fantasy.  This place is called Rockwoods Reservation.  Trying to find out what, exactly the name means is fun.  The land is cared for by the Missouri Department of Conservation.  I sent them a question, they were kind enough to respond, but it was the same information on the print outs posted on the rules, regulation and information sign.

“Rockwoods” must have come from the trees and limestone rocks found everywhere you step.  “Reservation” is a bit challenging, no natives live there, perhaps it’s being held for some other purpose, someday.

lime kiln remains in the forestThis beautiful land was a place trappers walked through in the 1700’s to get to the new settlement of Saint Louis to sell fur.  In the 1800’s Ninian Hamilton received a Spanish Land Grant and built a home for his family.  Eventually mineral resources were discovered on the land and  Glencoe Mining Company took ownership in the 1850’s.  It took massive amounts of wood to burn limestone rock – into powder.  There is a list of things limestone powder is used for, the one I remember best was mortar in brick homes.  The land was stripped bare before the company went broke.

There are several Lime Kilns to be found along the trail.  They are 40 feet high.  The thick walls have bolts in them to allow expansion when rocks became super hot.  Fires burned every day, and men would come to pull the powder out from the mouth of these huge structures.

In 1938 St. Louis County began taking care of the land.  It took 70 years for the beautiful forest I admired to grow.  Speaks highly of Nature’s Design, hm?

lime kiln hidden in the forestthere’s fencing to encourage people to be safe

a place to sit and consider nature's besthere’s a bench – a little place to rest – and consider

Jazz Ensemble Market

Jazz Ensemble Market is an easy trip across the Mississippi River.

Jazz Ensemble Market & CafeRide any metro-link train headed across the river from Missouri to Illinois and get off at Emerson Park Station, which is the third stop.  The scenery becomes interesting along the way and, once you arrive, you’ll notice the clean station, with little shops and a walking bridge, in case you need to get to the other side of the highway.  BUT, You won’t need to go any distance at all for fresh coffee, friendly faces, local produce and the opportunity to support a  Dream Come True.


Your first glimpse happens as soon as you step off the train.  The market sits right on the corner.  A tiny stroll across the street and you are there.

Places to Gather with Friends

Places to gather with friends

Inside you’ll begin to sense how special the place is.  This is neighborhood planning that may set a standard for the future.  This is a non-profit place were people can gather, locals are employed, neighbor serves neighbor, the food is nutritious and locally grown.  There is a cozy cafe.  “Regulars” make themselves at home, grab their personal coffee cup from the shelf and share the news of the day, along with a joke or two.  There is a cozy fireplace, television, Wi-Fi, a great view and plenty of good choices on the menu.

Mixed Use BuildingThe market is part of a mutli-use facility, including two hundred senior living apartments and is working to develop a community garden.

Jazz Ensemble Market Neighborhood This is a place in East St. Louis, with a happy story and people feel safe.

I asked about the words, “Jazz Ensemble.”  The title was chosen because East St. Louis was known for terrific musicians.  No one asked me, but if I were an “up and coming musician,” or a teacher with a music program, or an established performer willing to give back to a community.  I’d begin booking events, right there, on the sidewalk, and invite the public to cheer and support Hopes for a Bright Future.

Multi-Use Facilityjust sayin’

Jazz Ensemble Market, 1001 North 13th Street, East Saint Louis, Illinois, 62205


City Museum

City Museum is so spectacular, even a watery deluge, the necessity of raincoats and staying indoors can not diminish the joy of our First Adventure.

City Museum in the rain

 This photo was taken through the window, looking outside.  We will want to revisit and try to take this stellar place in.  It’s completely wild.  I explored a cave, climbed stairs of all sorts, listened to a restored pipe organ, admired limitless mosaics (made by Sharon Von Senden – but that’s anther story)

City Museum Mosaics

There are free circus performances, shoelace factory items, early 20th Century ceramic works saved from old buildings,  places to climb, slide, hang out, rest, there is an unusual aquarium, and the rooftop, which does not open until June.


I climbed through a small door and found people spinning around in peculiar chairs, statues from Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant Chain, this awesome wall, then climbed a teeny spiral staircase and found:


There is so much to see, I suspect we’ll enjoy plenty of good times here.  I need to remind you to bring your inner calm, not only is the place pure sensory overload,  young people find delight here and the cacophony is remarkable.

I look forward to our next City Museum Experience.

City Museum –  750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103

We’ll Be Back 🙂