My brief Easter Weekend road trip focused the majority of its time on Cape Girardeau, Missouri. That consisted of a couple of hours poking around downtown on Friday evening and then the race the following morning. Nonetheless it still consumed the bulk of our waking hours in a single location. We initially rolled into town and enjoyed the vista at Cape Rock Park as described in the previous episode. Then we checked into our hotel, washed up a bit and headed out to see the old, historic section of Cape Girardeau.
We needed something to eat after the initial drive down from St. Louis and our busy day of touring. Of course I also wanted to add more breweries to my completion list as the total approached 400. There seemed to be a brewpub right in the midst of Cape Girardeau so Minglewood Brewery became a logical choice for dinner that evening. Afterwards we strolled downhill towards the Mississippi River shoreline.
Then we came upon a surprise just a couple of blocks away, a sign for Buckner’s Brewing Company. It didn’t appear on my go-to source, beermapping.com, that I consult before every trip I take. It dawned on my that maybe the site couldn’t keep up with the explosion of breweries in the last couple of years. New ones appeared with such regularity that no single source could ever be considered definitive anymore. I tucked that away for future reference. I will need to be more diligent as I prepare for upcoming trips. Take that as foreshadowing.
Buckner’s didn’t serve food. It couldn’t let anyone less than 21 years old onto the premises thanks to a quirk of local regulations. We had two kids in tow and I thought it might become a "brewery that got away." Fortunately my wife drove our personal car on this trip (remember I joined them a few days later after flying to St. Louis) and we always keep a spare growler tucked away for occasions such as this. We left the kids outside, filled the growler, and went on our way. I added Buckner’s Brewing to my list of visits, legitimately. Crisis averted.
A small area designated the Cape Girardeau Commercial Historic District hugged the Mississippi shoreline. Both breweries resided in contributing structures inside the district. That was fairly common as I’ve discovered on my journeys. These types of businesses often clustered where revitalization efforts focused. I enjoyed walking around, taking note of architecture from the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. Cape Girardeau expanded rapidly during this era, first due to riverboat traffic and later as a railroad stop. As described in its Inventory Nomination Form,
From 1880 to 1920, Cape Girardeau’s population grew from approximately 5,000 to over 10,000 residents. By 1930 the population had reached over 16,000. The downtown commercial district expanded to meet the needs of the growing community and larger brick buildings appeared along Main Street replacing earlier one- and two-story buildings. Many of these buildings were designed with Colonial Revival detailing and vernacular "Brick Front" design elements.
This district would be considered a jewel in many places. It appeared eerily quiet though, even on a Friday evening. Adjacent neighborhoods also seemed as if they’d seen better days. Meanwhile other parts of Cape Girardeau a couple of miles away near Interstate 55 thronged with activity and traffic. Hopefully people will begin to return to the urban core as they’ve done in other cities.
I also strolled along the flood used to protected Cape Girardeau from the Mississippi River when it overflowed its banks. No such issue existed during my brief stay and the gates remained open. That let me enjoy murals painted on both sides of the wall. A barrier didn’t need to be ugly. I’d seen a similar philosophy when I visited Matewan in West Virginia last year. A concrete surface could be a great place for artwork outlining the history of the area. Here the paintings in Cape Girardeau told a story in 24 panels stretching 1,100 feet (335 metres), known collectively as the Mississippi River Tales Mural.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the wall as part of the Flood Control Act of 1950. Cape Girardeau flooded regularly before that, just a fact of life along a mighty river that drained a huge portion of the continental interior. However, the wall saved the city many times since then, including the "historic floods" in 1993 and 2011. It also held during the more recent 2016 flood.
I guess I should get back to the whole purpose of this frenzied road trip, the race. Well, as I admitted earlier, I went along to capture counties. However we really went so my wife could run another one of her Mainly Marathons races. This one happened to be the sixth event in their Riverboat series, their stop in Missouri. The series included only five races when we participated back in 2014 so this provided an opportunity for her to pick up a new location. I did run the 5K so I didn’t feel like a total slacker, while my wife ran a half-marathon. We also enjoyed seeing friends we’d made at previous races. Then we hopped in the car and drove another 8 hours, heading back home.
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