Friday, January 20, 2006

An Interesting Blip

Most of the ancient Indian mounds in St. Louis proper have been lost to development. There are the partial remains of one next to Highway 55 near S. Broadway. A '50s vintage home was built on the carved out side of the mound.

One of our longtime friends, a local historian who talks about having personally "shoveled out Lafayette Square townhouses back in the 70s", prides herself on having travelled nearly every south city neighborhood street by foot. Sometimes she leads historic walking tours of city neighborhoods.

St. Louis is a place layered in history. Recently, we were on foot, walking every block of a neighborhood on the city's near north side. A large part of the area had become industrialized, and then mostly abandoned by industry. There was one spot in the middle of the neighborhood that didn't fit the rest. It was undeveloped, yet surrounded by heavy industrial uses.

On one side was a fenced yard holding dozens of retired trailers. On the other lay parallel rows of abandoned railroad track, along with an overhead signal fixture. Sandwiched between the train tracks and the trailer lot was a small forested hill, roughly thirty to forty feet wide, rising approximately 8 to 10 feet above the grade of the sidewalk-and the grades of all the nearby blocks.

I wondered, why was this lot left alone when the rest of the blocks were originally developed? Was it created by transporting fill to the site in past decades? Or could it be the remains of an old Indian Mound? I hope it's an Indian mound.

If you want to visit this mound yourself, you can find it on the eastern side of the intersection of Hadley and Howard, two blocks north of Cass Avenue.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure the trees are fairly mature? Depending on the species, various trees can reach significant caliper and canopy within just a few years.

Rick Bonasch said...

The trees looked wild, and not especially large. The scene looked native Missouri.

Joe said...

That "mound" was probably built in the 1920s or 30s as part of the southwestern approach for the elevated section of the Interurban (Illinois Terminal System) streetcar tracks.

These tracks led from underneath the Globe-Democrat building at what's now Tucker and Convention Plaza, emerged from underground near Tucker and O'Fallon Street, then ran in the street on Hadley from Cass to Howard.

The earthen berm that takes up much of this superblock bounded by 11th, Tyler, Hadley, and Howard, is the approach to the elevated section of the interurban track.

The tracks cross over I-70 in a sweeping curve, just south of the Madison St overpass; then curve again to parallel North Market, and again to parallel the river east of Broadway, before finally jumping onto the McKinley Bridge.

The "Big Mound" was located about four blocks east of there, near Broadway and Mound. Since it was totally demolished way back in 1869, it's unlikely they're related.

But it's a nice thought.

Anonymous said...

There is one Indian mound left on the southside of St. Louis. I believe that it is a city landmark.