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One Sunday afternoon, my group wanted to get outside and soak up the sun.  It was one of those glorious winter’s days when the sun was shining and makes you think spring is on the way! We decided we wanted to go the backroads from our house to Tower Rock. So we piled in our rig and hit the county roads to get there. We got there during the “golden hour” in photographer terms, which is the hour before the sun sets. During this time, I find something magically happens with the light in my photographs. Although, Tower Rock is awe inspiring in any light!  

 

When I think of Tower Rock, I always think of the Jim Watkin’s quote:

 

“A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.”

 

I think back to all of the history this magnificent rock could tell us if it could talk. Tower Rock holds a special place in my heart. I remember as a little girl looking at pictures on my grandma’s wall of when my uncle got to walk across the mighty Mississippi River to see Tower Rock up close in the 80s. I remember telling myself as a little girl, I was going to do that one day too! So far, I have been able to cross 5 times now, and once on ice!

 

While I love the adventure and thrill of crossing the Mississippi River when it is low by foot.  I also enjoy the view of Tower Rock towering some 60 plus feet above the river in all of it’s magnificent glory. While no one doubts the mighty Mississippi is strong, I have always thought how tenacious that rock must be to hold firm while the swift current flows around it. It truly is a remarkable piece of Missouri history!

 

Tower Rock has been mentioned in historical journals by Father Jacques Marquette in the late 1600s and William Clark and Lewis Merriweather during their travels in the early 1800s.  President Ulysses S. Grant spared Tower Rock from proposed blasting by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1871. In 1970 it was listed on the National Register of Historic places. I find it fascinating that the President of the United States deemed it important enough to spare.  I am so glad he did!

 

Tower Rock has been the center of much folklore due to the whirlpools that surround it. Native Americans in the area warned Lewis and Clark to not go by Tower Rock due the demon in the water around it that supposedly devoured travelers. It is also said that in 1839 that a tragedy struck a wedding party there and all but one died while rowing back to the Illinois side. It was stated in a later account that a niece of the bride from the tragedy saw the ghostly wedding party rise up out of the water during her 20th birthday celebration. What a haunting sight that must have been? Whether or not you believe the ghost stories, the whirlpools around Tower Rock are no laughing matter. If you watch while you are there, you might be lucky enough to see one form in the cove where the water rushes around the rock.

 

While much lore and history surround Tower Rock, it is also surrounded by a raw and wild beauty. This area is not as developed as other conservation areas, which is one of many things that I love about it. It is surrounded by woods and a steep bluff.  If you continue over the train tracks, there is a short trail that is less than half a mile. It climbs up a steep hill that gives you a commanding view of Tower Rock. History, spooky tales, or beautiful scenery, whatever your pull is towards visiting Tower Rock, you will not be disappointed in this amazing and beautiful piece of Missouri History!


If you are wondering how to get to this amazing piece of Missouri History,  travel towards the small river town of Wittenberg on Highway A. Turn right onto Perry county road 460. You will go about 1.5 miles on this small gravel road. As the road gets closer to the river, it does get narrower. There is a small parking lot off the side of the road.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, Amber Odom:
Hey everyone!  I am an elementary teacher by day and a nature lover at heart. I love exploring new places in southeast Missouri, meeting new people, and being in the great outdoors! Come along with me as I explore those MO backroads adventures!

 

Stay Connected with Amber!

Instagram Page: @mobackroadadventures

Facebook Page: @MObackroadadventures

 

Check back for more from Amber and her family's Missouri (Perry County) Back Road Adventures.


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“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter."  -John Burroughs


Meet our Guest Blogger, Amber Odom:
Hey everyone!  I am an elementary teacher by day and a nature lover at heart. I love exploring new places in southeast Missouri, meeting new people, and being in the great outdoors! Come along with me as I explore those MO backroads adventures!

 

This is one of my favorite quotes and it is true for my family. Our family loves hiking in all months.  We try to get out in the winter as much as we do in the summer. In the winter you often see places in a new way. Without the leaves of summer, you find things you might have missed before. 


We visited a family favorite this past weekend when the temperatures were a glorious 60 degrees after our recent arctic blast. Ball Mill Resurgence Natural Area  is one of my son’s favorite places to explore. He could spend hours in the creek area. He loves walking the creek and following the many little waterfalls as the water trickles down the stone ledges. As we walked the creek this past weekend, we were happily surprised to see a frozen waterfall.  


While the creek is my son’s favorite part of the Ball Mill Resurgence area, I love the resurgence area. I love the creek bed with the smooth stones and the towering cliff that seems to appear out of nowhere.  It’s amazing to think about how the resurgence works. I hope to one day be able to see it in action.


As my daughter and husband came to the bottom of the hill and started walking in the creek bed towards the resurgence, I heard my daughter whisper “WOW! It’s beautiful.” As my family stood looking at this beautiful cliff face surrounded by the woods in awe, it struck me how beautiful this place is in any season. My son was just as in awe this past summer staring up at the cliff for his first time.   


I was struck by the way the sunlight peeked over the edge of the cliff, making the icicles hanging there glisten. It was mesmerizing! With the starkness and bareness of winter surrounding the cliff, it made the moss on the rock faces and the different colors of the rock seem more vibrant.   


I can easily say I don’t know which season I enjoy the most when visiting Ball Mill Resurgence Natural Area. I have yet to see it in the fall, so maybe after making a trip to see it in all the fall splendor I can finally say. But I think I am going to find that I love it in all seasons!    


I encourage you to get out there during this winter season. You never know what you might see and what might catch your eye as you are enjoying nature on a lovely winter’s day. So get out and enjoy some MO backroads adventures!

 

Stay Connected with Amber!

Instagram Page: @mobackroadadventures

Facebook Page: @MObackroadadventures

 

Check back for more from Amber and her family's Missouri (Perry County) Back Road Adventures.




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Hadler Shoe Tree

I threw my first pair of shoes in 2015. Years of shoes were already there. I had written with permanent marker on an old pair of sneakers “Tourism 2015”. Before I threw them, I may have said a little prayer to be able to “fill the shoes” of being named Perry County’s first official tourism director. I may have also made a wish that I could share more of what makes Perry County so unique and special.

As I tossed, slung and threw that old pair of shoes over and over I quickly realized that this was not as easy as it looks. But throw after throw we smiled, giggled and laughed out loud at our pointless efforts to sling a pair of old shoes into a tree alongside a country gravel road.

Up until recently, area locals had just referred to it as “The Shoe Tree” and what was the significance, the purpose behind this odd collection? Well, not every action has to start out with a purpose or meaning does it? But sometimes when you have all the right “things” it just happens, and a tradition is born. I’m sure Willard Hadler had no intension of creating a tradition with his family when they slung their first pair. Willard and Glenda had seen another shoe tree on vacation out “west” years ago and thought it looked like something fun to do and they were right!

Over the years some key throwing techniques have emerged from repeat visitors honing their skills.

·         Slinging by shoestrings

·         The backwards throw

·         Boomerang method

·         Or the wind-up

The next time you are at the Shoe Tree take a minute to thinks about these “things”:

·         Appreciate the natural landscape of rural Perry County.

·         Take a deep breath of clean country air, most of the time we take that for granted.

·         Say a prayer, make a wish or just release some stress as you catapult your old soles. You make the reason or don’t need a reason at all to do this.

·         Remember the shoes are as different as the personalities of the people who have thrown them up there.

·         It’s pure fun for all ages.

·         Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Laughter is always good for the world.

·         Take family or friends. It’s a perfect time to create a fun memory.

·         And celebrate your victory when you snag a branch!

The shoe tree is open 365 days a year but the Hadler family is hoping to create an annual day event for shoe slinging in January. Check out our explore page and calendar for upcoming dates.

 Photo credit: Nature's Passion Photography by Jackie Johnson

Republic Monitor Newspaper Article, link here.

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The greatest need of Perry County, when it was created from the Ste. Genevieve District in 1821 was a courthouse. Although there were a few small areas where groups of people lived, there were no towns in the county where a courthouse could be built.

Bernard Layton gave the county 51 acres of his 640-acre Spanish Land Grant for that purpose. The land was to be laid out in lots and sold to raise money to build the first Perry County Courthouse.

In the meantime, the Perry County Court met four times a year in the home of Bede Moore, a two-story log building about 1 ½ miles north of Perryville to conduct county business.

In 1825, a contract was made for the first courthouse. Funding for the $1,486.25 project came from the sale of 55 lots from the property deeded to the county by Layton.

It was 1826 before the first courthouse was ready to use on the square. No pictures or sketches of the white two-storied frame building with green shutters and a Spanish brown roof with cupola sitting on top have survived. Thomas Hayden contracted to build this courthouse on the northeast corner of the square, completed in 1826.

By 1859, the first courthouse had been outgrown and, in that year, the second Courthouse was built just west of the first one. This building was in the center of the north side of the square and was a two-storied Federal style brick building built for $8,000. John R. Layton superintended the construction and it was completed in 1861. This building continued in use until after the turn of the century when grand jury reports indicated the condition of the building was beyond repair.

In 1903, county residents presented a petition calling for an election and supported a proposition for a $30,000 bond issue to finance a new courthouse. From several plans submitted the Court selected a proposal from J.W. Gaddis of Vincennes, Indiana.

Caldwell and Drake from Columbus, Indiana contracted for construction in January 1904 and work began in February. The laying of the cornerstone ceremony was on June 4, 1904. The celebration included a parade, speeches, music and the largest crowd, ever assembled in Perry County to watch as a huge block of stone was placed in its bed of mortar where it has remained for generations.

With elements of Federal, Romanesque, Gothic and Classical styles the courthouse was completed on November 17, 1904 when Gaddis officially handed over the keys to the governing body. Total cost of the red brick, 65-by-92-foot building was $32,762.98.

A deep well was sunk for water on the property and other modern amenity were included such as a boiler system for heat and a tile sewer for plumbing.

In February of 1905 wrecking and removing the old courthouse began along with sale of old furniture.

In 2015 the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the citizens of Perry County voted to support a tax for maintenance. In 2017 the courthouse underwent a major renovation to repair and preserve its original beauty and significance to the history of Perry County.

Over the last one hundred years the present-day courthouse has conducted the county and state business dealing with land records, birth and death records, court proceedings, laws, elections, county maintenance and many other daily activities. It has been modernized with many new inventions such as telephones, electric, indoor plumbing, heating, air conditioning systems and an elevator.

Would you like to schedule a group tour? We do that! Right here in downtown Perryville, Missouri.

Contact Information:
Trish Erzfeld, Tourism Director
2 W. Ste Maries Street
Perryville, MO 63775
573-517-2069 (c)
trish@perryvillmo.com

Download Full Brochure 

After you play, you can find somewhere to eat! And maybe even stay.

Link to Restaurants

Link to Hotels 

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Year End Review: 2018

We have been working so hard, we wanted to share some really big accomplishments for the Perry County Tourism office during 2018. We wanted to make it short and sweet… but let’s face it the list is LONG! Check them out!

  • Earned two awards from the Missouri Department of Tourism!
    • Innovator Award :: awarded to Perry County Heritage Tourism by the Missouri Division of Tourism at the 2018 Governor's Conference on Tourism. Perryville and Perry County's efforts during the Great American Eclipse were recognized with this year's Innovator award. What a great way to celebrate Perryville and Perry County's significance on this event and the impact we have made locally and around the world.
    • Rising Star Award :: awarded to Trish Erzfeld, Perry County Tourism Director by the Missouri Division of Tourism at the 2018 Governor's Conference on Tourism
  • Delta Leadership Institute Executive Academy Graduate: Our Tourism Director, Trish Erzfeld participated and graduated from The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) ‘s Delta Leadership Institute (DLI) Executive Academy. The program equips participants with the tools, experiences and networks that will help them create new economic opportunities in Delta communities as well as support the growth of the region’s economy. LINK: https://www.semissourian.com/story/2541489.html
  • Worked with local, state and regional newspaper/magazine sources to showcase the events, programs and projects going in and around Perryville and Perry County, Missouri. This includes the following publications: Southeast Missourian, 573 Magazine and Missouri Life
  • Created and implemented the Perry County Barn Quilt Trail with the help of local volunteers and artists throughout Perry, Bollinger and Cape Girardeau Counties. This trail brings families and individuals to our region to view barn quilts and enjoy the hospitality of Perryville and all of Perry County. This also includes a brand new printed brochure, after securing financial assistance from the Missouri Humanities Council.
  • Lead the marketing efforts for the 14th Annual Christmas Country Church Tour, bringing in thousands of steeple chasers from all over Southeast Missouri, the state of Missouri and the Midwest Region. This highly visible and attended event brings tourism tax dollars to the county each year.
  • Supported and promoted the Smithsonian Exhibit: Hometown Teams, hosted by the Perry County Historical Society bringing together the community and visitors from the region.
  • Promoted local activities to the Perryville Soccer fall tournament attendees from neighboring communities throughout Southeast Missouri.
  • Supported and attended the International History Conference in Altenburg, Missouri. Each year the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum hosts a multi-day conference for individuals all over the world, particularly the country of Germany. By supporting this conference, we are promoting our hotels, restaurants, shopping and natural areas to attendees.
  • A partnership was built and executed with the City of Perryville and the regional 573 magazine publication. This has resulted in six promotional ads a year highlighting events in our community, to highlighting all things great about Perryville and Perry County with the execution of the “We Love Perryville” campaign.
  • Produced a Hiking Brochure featuring the best natural hiking opportunities in Perry County.
  • Produced a new tri-fold brochure promoting the Perry County Courthouse, its history and the new on-site walking tours.
  • Created and printed a brand new map of Perry County, and all it has to offer. This includes restaurants, retail shops, breweries, wineries, natural areas, and the eight local cultural sites.
  • Partnered with the Saxon Lutheran Memorial board and Missouri Humanities Council to showcase the memorial grounds with a brochure featuring all buildings on the property and their events. This will be used in conjunction with new bus tours to the area.
  • Created and promoted NINE aspects of Perryville and Perry County through paper printed profile sheets/guides: Discover Perry County, Airport Fly-Ins, Path 2 Promiseland, Faith 2 Freedom Tour, Agritainment, BOTS, Old Timer’s Day, Missouri’s National Vietnam Memorial, Christmas Country Church Tour, Motorcycle Guide
  • Partnered with local photographer to create, print and promote Perry County Postcards for guests and even locals!
  • Lead the efforts and promotions for the following projects in Perryville and Perry County:
    • Rainbow Trout at Legion Lake
    • Shawnee Indian Dig Sites (2)
    • German Inventory
    • Tourism Study
    • Malone Clan Expeditions, Travels with Germans/Americans
    • Dr. Carolyn Show
  • Supported the following events/projects by speaking at the events:
    • Missouri Community Betterment Presentations
    • Carterville Chamber of Commerce: EDA Community Retreat (Carterville, IL)

For more information, contact Perry County Heritage Tourism Director, Trish Erzfeld at 573-517-2069 or trish@perryvillemo.com. 


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As the season of church picnics draw to a close again with the ending of summer I would like for everyone to stop and remember the communities centered around these churches. All the communities within Perry County at one time or another boasted stores, schools, mills and proud residents. But the churches were and are the heartbeat of every community. It was because of the local church that neighbors could meet, socialize and bond into not only a family of faith but a town of support.

Every year the “church picnic” was no doubt the social event of the summer for each and every congregation. With a home cooked meal, music and games for the children the day was spent with family, friends and neighbors. Then there was the coveted make shift store commonly known as the “fancy stand.” Handmade linens, doilies, quilts, baked goods, canned fruits and vegetables, and assorted plants and flowers were proudly provided by the women to fetch the highest donations. 

It appears that the picnic crowds are slowly dwindling as the years go by and that the once anticipated summer events are becoming extinct. When was the last time you attending and supported a church picnic?

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