As one capital improvement or revenue bond project was completed, construction crews jumped in and started on the next.
“We’re always looking to improve and build for the future,” said David Kelly, director of Missouri State Parks. “We are continuing to make improvements to our state parks and historic sites.”
Flood recovery continues
One such improvement was the spring 2022 reopening of the campground at Lewis and Clark State Park, which was closed due to flood damage in 2019. Missouri State Parks workers repaired levees and added improvements, such as a new mobile shower house.
Big Lake State Park also sustained flood damage in 2019. The flooding prevented the treatment of wastewater at the facility, which in turn closed the site to overnight camping guests. Construction crews, along with the park team, installed two new liners in the lagoon. With the lift stations operable once again, camping is back at Big Lake State Park.
Crews also completed reconstruction and repair of an overlook at Grand Gulf State Park near Thayer. Four of the five platforms overlooking various areas of the gulf needed attention. Three overlooks received repairs, including the installation of pickets and replacement posts, and another was completely rebuilt. Crews completed much of this project while suspended from the side of a shear dropoff. Harnesses were used and extreme safety measures taken, resulting in outstanding structures that allow visitors to see into the gulf and witness one of the most unique geologic features found in Missouri.
Another recently completed project is the replacement of the Salt Creek Bridge on the Katy Trail. The original bridge, located just west of Rocheport, was washed off its pilings during a severe flood of the Missouri River in 2019. The new bridge is a critical asset, as it connects the popular destinations of Boonville and Rocheport. This project came in under budget and ahead of schedule.
“We are excited to have trail users able to once again complete the 240-mile trek without having to make any detours,” Kelly said. “This project’s completion is just one of the many ongoing maintenance and repair projects in our state parks system.”
New and improved
In May, Shepherd of the Hills State Park, formerly known as Ozark Mountain State Park, held its final conceptual development plan meeting. At the meeting, Missouri State Parks unveiled the park’s new name, which came about from public input at earlier planning meetings. The park, which is not yet open, reflects Harold Bell Wright’s description of the area in his book, “The Shepherd of the Hills.” Renaming the park accordingly honors Wright’s contributions to the region.
The statewide construction crew also made great progress on improvements to the drainage ditch along the approximately 1.25-mile section of the Katy Trail near Claysville. Historically, this part of the trail has often remained closed from late spring well into summer due to rainwater that holds through this section and covers the trail. While the trail was under water, trail users were diverted onto the gravel road running along the levee. To improve drainage, the crew worked to remove sediment, stabilize the drainage ditch and hydro-jet several dozen clogged culverts running under the trail.
After a devastating fire at First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site in St. Charles, construction crews repaired the damage at the Chauncey Shepard building. Thanks to the fire department’s quick response, the blaze was contained with minimal damage to the flooring. Repairs included replacement floor joists, tongue and groove flooring and doors damaged by the fire. In addition, a local contractor completed a project to tuck point the breezeways at the site, and the sidewalk in front of the site was replaced. This project has improved accessibility and stormwater drainage, which helps preserve the historic building. The new sidewalk provides an extra element of safety for visitors, allowing guests to walk in front of the capitol without having to step into the street.
“Back in the 1960s, the First Missouri State Capitol State Historic Site started its renovations, which became the catalyst that sparked the creation of the largest historic district in Missouri, featuring a variety of shops and restaurants that now occupy the early 19th century buildings,” Kelly said. “With repairs from the fire complete, the site looks even better than before. The sidewalk update has kept the look and feel of the original building that houses the first capitol.”
The American Rescue Plan Act will fund 19 water and 23 wastewater projects at Missouri state parks and historic sites. The first five projects began in fall 2022 and included drinking water and wastewater projects at Babler State Park, as well as wastewater projects at Long Branch State Park, Thousand Hills State Park and Battle of Athens State Historic Site. Over the next year, Missouri State Parks will begin the design phases for the remaining 37 ARPA projects.
“We are excited to get all of these projects underway,” Kelly said. “We are always looking for opportunities to improve our parks and historic sites for our guests.”
Learn more about improvement plans for Missouri state parks and historic sites at mostateparks.com/page/90071/conceptual-development-plans.