Great River Road 17 - Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO

This week the Gateway Arch celebrated 50 years since the final piece was fitted into place.

Note - GatewayArch.com kindly provided us with tickets for both our visit to the top of the Arch and the Riverboat tour.

50th Anniversary Event

This was pure luck, really. As we’ve been making our way down the Great River Road we started planning our St. Louis visit and learned we’d be there during the 50th Anniversary of the Arch’s exterior completion (once the shell was complete the interior work only just began).

There would be a commemorative event, free cupcakes and discounted rides to the top.

Museum Exhibits

I always love exploring museums to find connections between what we are doing and places we have been. In the Old Courthouse building there was a map that showed how St. Louis was part of the Mormon Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the California Trail (hence the “Gateway” name).

The Mormon trail started at the small town of Nauvoo, IL - also on the Mississippi River. We drove through Nauvoo a few days ago and hoped to explore it some. It was raining buckets that day so we pressed on - but did drive past the large Mormon Temple there.

Mississippi Riverboat

Our riverboat tickets were shortly after the commemorative event so we grabbed our cupcakes and headed down.

We’ve seen the Mississippi as a stream. As a small river. As a scenic backdrop for fishermen, houseboats, and Roadside America type attractions. Down this far, the changing use of the River is made clear - it’s all about industry.

Water Highway

The Mississippi River in St. Louis is a busy commercial water highway with barges large and small moving goods up and down the river.

We went under bridges made nearly 100 years ago and bridges made in the last decade.

We saw powerplants that provided some of the first electric light to worlds fairs.

And with the ongoing construction under the Arch we saw a city still working to improve itself in ways both visual and relational.

The Old Courthouse in St. Louis

The Old Courthouse in St. Louis

The crowd at the 50th Anniversary Event.

The crowd at the 50th Anniversary Event.

I would have loved to see the Policeman's face when he learned he had to escort...a pink cupcake truck.

I would have loved to see the Policeman's face when he learned he had to escort...a pink cupcake truck.

Boy Scouts raising the flag.

Boy Scouts raising the flag.

50th Gateway Arch Anniversary Cupcakes

50th Gateway Arch Anniversary Cupcakes

Gateway Arch viewed from the Mississippi River

Gateway Arch viewed from the Mississippi River

St. Louis Powerplant on the river.

St. Louis Powerplant on the river.

Paddlewheel on the Mississippi Riverboat

Paddlewheel on the Mississippi Riverboat

Riverboat and Gateway Arch

Riverboat and Gateway Arch

Looking up at the Gateway Arch

Looking up at the Gateway Arch

MsBoyink and Miranda model a tram car

MsBoyink and Miranda model a tram car

Doors to the trams in the Gateway Arch

Doors to the trams in the Gateway Arch

Shuffling up the stairs at the top of the Arch

Shuffling up the stairs at the top of the Arch

Riverboats viewed from the top of the Gateway Arch

Riverboats viewed from the top of the Gateway Arch

Looking downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch

Looking downtown St. Louis from the top of the Gateway Arch

Family pic by the Arch

Family pic by the Arch

Top O’ the Arch

After the Riverboat we headed over for our visit to the top of the Arch.

Every once in a while we find something that both surprises and delights me that we can still do. Visiting to the top of the Arch is one of those things. Between the tiny tram cars, the stairs, the low ceilings, and the curved floor at the top it’s amazing that no special interest groups have sued the experience out of existence yet.

I hope they never do.

Strangers Become Friends

The ride up was cramped and since each car holds 5 we shared it with strangers - but four minutes later we had introduced ourselves and knew each other’s basic life story.

We met a couple who used to live in Grand Rapids MI, and moved to St. Louis 5 years ago. It was their first time up to the top. Another couple had grown up in the area and had visited multiple times - his name is in a time capsule at the top, written there while a schoolboy growing up in town.

Have You Been?

Have you been up to the top of the Arch?

2 Comments Great River Road 17 - Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO

  1. Picture of Frederick Polgardy Frederick Polgardy October 29, 2015

    St. Louis was our very first stop after we sold the house!

  2. Picture of Michael Boyink Michael Boyink October 29, 2015

    We’ve been thinking about coming for years - it was within a (long) day’s drive of our home in W. MI. Just never quite made it until now. 

    Looks like you guys are close to some good friends of ours: https://instagram.com/jennaysjourney/

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