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July 12, 2012 / Jim Fenton

Mississippi River Day 9: St. Louis

This article is part of a series about our recent vacation traveling down the Mississippi River. To see the introductory article in the series, click here.

Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

The signature attraction of St. Louis is, of course, the Gateway Arch, or more formally, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It sits in the middle of a park-like plaza facing the Mississippi River, with a large visitor center, museum, and two theaters below ground level.

Everyone had told us to expect big crowds at the Arch, so we made advance reservations for a 10:30 trip to the top. While the area was busy, at least by Hannibal standards, the lines were actually very short and we would have done fine without reservations. We passed the time at the museum until our reservation time came up.

The scale of the Arch is enormous. When you look at it from a distance, it is hard to imagine that people actually take a transportation system (special elevator) and walk around inside the top. But inside it’s quite roomy and not nearly as cramped as I expected, or even remembered from a childhood visit.

Replica Arch

Celeste and Kenna in the replica arch we built

We finished the museum, which was excellent as is typical for National Park Service museums, and watched a film on the building of the Arch. After lunch, tempted by free admission, we took the light rail out to Forest Park (a large park that reminds one of Central or Golden Gate Park), and visited the Science Museum. Many of the exhibits were fairly standard, but a few had some local flavor, such as the bridge-building exhibits that taught us quite a bit about the bridges across the Mississippi. We also enjoyed the opportunity to build a catenary arch out of foam blocks, which gives one a little more feel for what was involved in building the Arch.

Mississippi River Crossings today: 0
July 12, 2012

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