Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Some days you don't end where you thought you might.  I thought today might end beside the limpid waters of the upper St Francois River in Missouri, a place where river rats play in spring freshets and the song of currents among the stream-smoothed boulders would lull us to sleep. But the navigator turned us into the Old Greenville COE campground, perhaps more influenced by frugality than any historical research, or perhaps it was the sun over the Ozark uplift after a morning running North in a cold rain.

Level spot beside the St Francois River

Now I love my navigator and the many surprises she brings into my life, so we unloaded bikes and began a slow ride along what turned out to be the Lower St Francois at the head of Lake Wappapello. The "bike path" was more a street and...what's this?  SIDEWALKS ...running into the green lushness of second growth trees and ferns.  Parallel pathways seemingly going nowhere...



Soon we nearly tripped over the placards which unlocked the riddle.  This was the old town site of Greenville established to loot the surrounding land of its "inexhaustible" timber and to provide all necessary services.  It survived into the early 1940's suffering catastrophic floods routinely. (NO trees, beside river = floods. duh!) 1938, in the depths of the depression the WPA build sidewalks in the town even though the COE, having tampered for a century on the Mississippi, had turned their expertise on the tributaries. The Wappapello Dam was finished in 1942 and the citizens of Greenville salvaged their homes and moved the whole town to higher ground, supposedly using the spanking new sidewalks.

Excellent placards tell the story     

 By delightful coincidence our friend Delores turned up beside us in the campground. You really must know Delores (and we always wish we had time to know her better.) 

Delores is a Full Timer. She has been everywhere on this continent in her Born Free camper, TWICE!  Before that she hiked and backpacked all over the US and Europe.  Now that she is a beautiful white haired lady "of a certain age", she crisscrosses the country visiting friends and revisiting old haunts. We always wish we had a week to listen to the quiet tales she tells of big adventures and small treasures she has found along her way.

She would not pose for a picture, preferring to be remembered by her Ragged Ass  (bumper sticker from the road in Yellowknife Alaska she is making famous.)  


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