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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Eureka in St. Louis County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Meramec Greenway - Flat Creek Trail at Kircher Park

 
 
Meramec Greenway - Flat Creek Trail at Kircher Park Marker image. Click for full size.
By Carl Scott Zimmerman, June 10, 2020
1. Meramec Greenway - Flat Creek Trail at Kircher Park Marker
Inscription.  
Kircher Park
Kircher Park is named in honor of former Mayor Leon Kircher.  Kircher was first elected mayor at the age of 30 and served from 1963-1967 and then again from 1973-1975.  Mayor Kircher was an advocate for establishing neighborhood parks in the City of Eureka.  He helped to set a precedent requiring developers to set aside green space that would be developed into parks.  Kircher was also responsible for establishing the Eureka Park Board.  Kircher's family still resides in Eureka.

What's in a Name?
Eureka was first settled as a railroad camp in 1858 along the route of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  Known today as the Union Pacific Railroad, the Missouri Pacific opened in 1853 from St. Louis west to the town of Franklin, the present-day city of Pacific.

When builders of the railroad track saw the level land with very few obstacles to clear—they cried out, "Eureka!"  Attributed to the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, the phrase translated from Greek means "I have found it!"  With that exclamation, the city was founded.

Riding the Rails
During the Great Depression

Marker viewed from across the west access road image. Click for full size.
By Carl Scott Zimmerman, June 10, 2020
2. Marker viewed from across the west access road
in the 1930s, the railroad brought an increasing number of "hobos" to the town of Eureka. Given the dismal state of the national economy, these hobos—who were left without work in their hometowns—rode on freight trains in order to find prospects elsewhere.  Many hobos went door-to-door offering to work for town locals in return for a hot meal.  These nomads developed their own system of hieroglyphs that they would use to mark walls, sidewalks, fences, posts and other public spaces in order to let other hobos know what lay ahead.  These symbols communicated such messages as where hobos could go to find food and shelter.  These symbols also relayed what hobos could do to avoid dangerous circumstances or dire consequences.

River Recreation
In addition to bringing in new families and businesses to the area, railroad transportation opened up access to recreational opportunities along the Meramec River.  Times Beach and Diecke were resort towns along the Meramec that began to grow alongside the improving transportation from St. Louis.  In the first half of the 20th century, Diecke had approximately 55-60 homes along with 90 clubhouses.  It was most popular during the 1920s and 30s when people needed a cool, quiet place to get away from the heat and noise of the city.  After World War II, when housing boomed and suburban areas grew, summer attractions such

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as public community pools increased, and people stayed closer to home.

Shifting Communities
In the 1950s, as highways and interstates were developed, the GI Bill and an expanding post-war economy made owning a car more affordable.  The ease of road travel lured families to further destinations such as the Ozarks and the Gulf, and local, summer resort towns along the Meramec lost much of their appeal and hustle and bustle.

Once known as a place of weekend escape, Times Beach transitioned into a stable and developed community of affordable housing in the 1960s and 1970s.

After the environmental contamination, evacuation and large scale clean-up efforts of the Times Beach community, the Meramec River established its authority over the land.  This area was completely flooded in 1982.

Route 66 State Park is now located on the former site of the Times Beach community.  Once again, the area is a safe, cool, relaxing, and beautiful area to escape the city and enjoy nature the way that the early Native Americans who first inhabited the area once knew it.

Revitalizing the River
Untouched by efforts to build dams along the river throughout the 20th century, the Meramec is a free-flowing body of water.  Though the river was once one of the most polluted rivers in Missouri, local and state governments have gone to great lengths to clean

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the river and its ecosystems, thus restoring the water-quality for surrounding communities.

Out of all of the rivers in Missouri, the Meramec is one of the most ecologically diverse.  Though the river receives plenty of human traffic by way of commercial tour boats, canoe outfitters, and ferryboats, it is home to an abundance of wildlife and aquatic life, including catfish, largemouth bass, brown trout, and rainbow trout.

Meramec Greenway
The Meramec Greenway was established in 1975 with the mandate to plan and coordinate the recovery of 108 miles of the lower Meramec River that had deteriorated from years of abuse and neglect.  The Meramec River Recreation Association, made up of governments with jurisdictions on the river and area citizens, was formed to lead the restoration.

Today good water quality has been restored, the natural beauty of the river setting is recovering and over 28,000 acres of public parks and conservation areas are available for your use.

To learn more about the Meramec Greenway visit the website: www.meramecgreenway.org
 
Erected by Great Rivers Greenway and City of Eureka.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentParks & Recreational Areas.
 
Location. 38° 30.183′ N, 90° 36.873′ W. Marker is in Eureka, Missouri, in St. Louis County. Marker can be reached from Flat Creek Trail west of Flint Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1 Williams Rd, Eureka MO 63025, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 10 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Meramec Greenway - Flat Creek Trail at Lions Park (approx. 0.9 miles away); A "Key" from the past… (approx. 1.3 miles away); Lime Kiln (approx. 5.2 miles away); Spc. Jeffrey L. White Jr. (approx. 7.1 miles away); Site of John Ball Homestead (approx. 7.3 miles away); 1935 Frisco Caboose (approx. 7.4 miles away); Dedicated to World Peace (approx. 7.6 miles away); West Barretts Tunnel (approx. 9.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Eureka.

 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 6, 2020, by Carl Scott Zimmerman of Kirkwood, Missouri. This page has been viewed 39 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 6, 2020, by Carl Scott Zimmerman of Kirkwood, Missouri. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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Mar. 2, 2021