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