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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bollinger Mill and Cape Girardeau

Leaving the rusting lead mines behind, we arrived at the Bollinger Mill State Historic Site in the tiny town of Burfordville, Missouri in time for lunch.
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Major George Bollinger built the first mill here in 1800, on a 640 acre land grant. A German Swiss from North Carolina, Bollinger visited the area in 1796, and returned with 20 families. His mill became the largest and best in the district according to a historic plaque on the site.

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Started in 1860, the bridge waited until after the end of the civil war to be completed. Finished in 1867, the 140 foot self-supporting span was built of yellow poplar.
A few other cars came and left while we were eating lunch, but we were the only vehicle in the parking lot by the time the ranger opened the mill for tours.
Modern for the time, the mill used turbines instead of a water wheel, to generate power.
Water flowed through the stone foundation under the mill. You can tour the water level and main floor by yourself. A paid, docent led, tour is available for the upper levels.
Stopping for gas in Jackson, an old Pennsylvania Railroad engine caught my eye. We did a u-turn and found the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway. They are a volunteer led railroad that runs excursion trains on Saturdays.
Trains are pulled by locomotive 5898, an E8A built by GM's Electro-Motive Division in the early 1950's. The maroon body houses a huge V12 engine putting out 2,250 horsepower.
The depot had an old tow truck out front that we had to photograph for our Nephew David since he is a big "Mater" fan.
We love traveling through small towns and seeing that independent stores can survive, some for 137 years.
Arriving in Cape Girardeau, we were impressed by the use of brick buildings for paintings of local history.
Some of these paintings were quite elaborate.
A floodwall must be crossed to reach  the Mississippi river. Beth passed through the floodgates just in time to see a tug guiding barges downstream.
Signage in the waterfront park told the history of the area. This photo of a submarine passing through in the 1940's caught my attention. Built in Mantiwoc, Wisconsin, the subs were sailed to Chicago where they were loaded on barges for transport to New Orleans. These were Gato class submarines just like the one we toured in Michigan a month ago. Here's the link if you want to see inside a sub - USS Silversides.
Reading the historic plaques reminded me how much I like black and white photos, so here is one of the tug and barges.
Looking back into town from the flood wall, the courthouse sits high and dry on a hill.
Artists didn't limit themselves to brick buildings here. The floodwall was made much more interesting with paintings depicting more of the town's history.
Flood levels are marked at this gate. The "great flood" of 1927 killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 700,000 people from their homes. That flood precipitated plans to build a coordinated system of levees and flood control structures from here to the Gulf of Mexico.
More history on the wall.
Standing out from the surrounding architecture, the Lighthouse Church,  had stars of David incorporated in their ironwork.
A plaque told of the building's construction in 1937 as B'nai Israel Synagogue. Ceramic glazed tile and a dome rotunda could use some restoration. It is listed on the national register of historic places.
Not every town has a bridge across the Mississippi, but Cape Girardeau has more than one. This is a part of the original bridge, now an overlook in the, aptly named, Riverfront Bridge Park.
Visible from the overlook, a new suspension bridge with concrete towers spans the river.

Just around the block is the Crisp Museum where we  learned more about the area's history. Collections of ancient pottery, riverboat ship models, and a changing fine art gallery were all well done. This free museum is located on the grounds of Southeast Missouri State University.
Leaving town we wound our way up to a scenic overlook at Trail of Tears State Park. The park had two campgrounds, Lake Boutin high in the woods, and another right on the river. You may be able to guess which we chose.
Backing into the last riverfront spot at the Mississippi River Campground we opened the back doors and watched the Mississippi roll by.
Strong river currents created swirls and eddies along the shoreline.
Greeted by the campground host, his first question was "Do you like trains?" It seems the railroad runs on this little sliver of land between the campground and the Mississippi. Trains pass through every couple of hours, even during the night, and have to blow their horn for the tiny grade crossing that allows access to the boat launch.

Stopping by later with a guitar around his neck, our host invited us to join him around the campfire for songs and poems. The evening was delightful with flickering flames, good music, and a background of riverboats churning up and down the river. Talking to a random couple next to us around the fire we learned that they had been in the same campground where we were for the Pleasure-Way rally. They wondered what all those "little vans" were doing, but said it sounded like we were having fun.


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