The Katy Trail

The weather this weekend has been positively gorgeous, no rain, and highs only in the low seventies, partly cloudy, just not the typical Saint Louis summer weather pattern.  So, Saturday morning I drove across the Missouri River and biked the Katy Trail.  I got forty-six miles.

The Katy Trail is a trail that runs 225 miles in the right-of-way of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.  The nickname “Katy” comes from the phonetic pronunciation of ‘KT’ in the railroad’s abbreviated name, MKT.  The Katy Trail is a Missouri state park and one of the longest Rails-to-Trails trails in the United States.

I put in at the Weldon Springs trailhead.  There was a Boy Scout Troop marshalling there when I arrived, so I quickly unloaded the bike and launched westward ahead of them.  During World War II, Weldon Springs was part of the Manhattan Project.  A uranium enrichment plant was operated there.  Now it is a Super-Fund Site, complete with an interpretive center.  Today the Katy is decorated with bright yellow ground water monitoring wells.

My first stop was Defiance, site of Daniel Boone’s last home.  Daniel Boone (1734-1820) lived the last twenty years of his life in Missouri.  When Anne and I first moved to Saint Louis, we visited the Boone home.  It was being run as a tourist attraction by decedents of Daniel Boone.  I noticed that now Lindenwood University has taken over the historic site and is renovating it.  I remember a few architectural details of the home from our tour years ago, gun ports under every window and that the window’s glass was lightly coated with silver to allow only one-way viewing (so that no one could see in from outside).  Mr. Boone always liked to live on the edge.  He left Kentucky for Missouri, because Kentucky had gotten too crowded for him.

The next stop was Matson.  Matson hosts the site of Boone’s Judgment Tree Park.  Apparently, Daniel Boone also acted as the law.  The old tree must have provided shade on hot days and possibly a limb from which to string a rope.  Boone was contemporary with Lewis and Clark.  In 1804, their expedition stopped to pay their respects, but Daniel had gone walkabout and missed them.

Augusta was my next stop.  Augusta is best known for its wineries.  After the failed revolutions of 1848 many Germans immigrated to Missouri, so Augusta like most Missouri wineries make southern German wines.  The wineries in Augusta are at the top of a steep hill, but the Augusta Brewery is just a few steps from the trailhead.  I made a mental note to stop there on my way back.

Westward I rode, first to Dutzow and finally to Marthasville.  I should mention that I rode to the continuous singing of songbirds.  I got a couple of pictures of a Dickcissel, but what I really wanted to photograph were the elusive Indigo Buntings, with their striking dark blue coloring.

I turned around at Marthasville and headed back.  On the way back, I made a side trip to the Daniel Boone Burial Monument.  Daniel is no longer there, Kentucky long ago reclaimed their favorite son.  The stones pictured above are of some of his descendents.  His and his wife’s original stones were subsequently moved to his Defiance house.  The old guy in death got around almost as well as in life.

Back through Dutzow I rode, on to Augusta and that beer.  I pulled into Augusta and turned off to the brewery only to find that it was infested with Boy Scouts.  What kind of Scoutmaster takes his boys to a micro-brewery?  Marching on to Defiance again, I settled for a Bud-Lite and then back to Weldon Springs and the car.  All-in-all it was a very good ride.

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