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The Top 100 Reasons to Come to DRSWCVI!

REASON 79 - THE HILL
Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  Nope, it's not some masochistic running route, like Kev's Mount MF. The Hill is a section of St. Louis that was, and still is, predominantly settled by Italians. Ruggeri's, Rigazzi's, Oldani's, Mama Campisi's, Zia's, Gioa's, Cunetto's, Amighetti's, Favazza's, Bruno's, Bartolino's, Bocardi's, Giovanni's, Gitto's and Lorusso's are just some of the restaurants I have been to - even before I knew that pasta was a good running food! This one-mile square pocket of land, bounded by Kingshiway, Southwest, Hampton and Hiway 44, is a neatly kept community. It is also the boyhood homes of two bald-headed, Italian, major league catchers. Yogi Berra (Yankees) and Joe Garigiola (Cardinals) grew up together on the same street. I guess the only thing that kept Biondo from the big show was his inability to hit the curve ball.

REASON 78 - CAHOKIA MOUNDS
Suggested by Dean Mueller  ♦  As the honorary StillDead representative for Illinois, I have the opportunity to draw your attention to the "east side", and what we have to offer (other than lower taxes, lower real estate costs, no annual car inspections, no personal property tax, etc. :-). If you're looking for a place to run some stairs and interested in learning a bit about the folks who really discovered America, then Cahokia Mounds would be the place for you! The Mounds, built by the Indians who lived here, are truly impressive. It's mind boggling when you look at the amount of dirt that had to be moved to form these man-made "hills". Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is located on the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri. This area was first inhabited by Indians of the Woodland culture about 700 A.D. By about 900 A.D. the Cahokia site was the regional center for the Mississippian culture with satellite settlements around it. After about 400 years, the population began to decline and the site was abandoned by 1500. In the late 1600s the Cahokia Indians came to the area; it is from these later Indians that the current name is derived. However, it is the building accomplishments of the earlier Indians that make this site significant. They constructed more than 100 earthen mounds, 87 of which have been documented. It is estimated that these industrious people moved 50 million cubic feet of earth in woven baskets to create this network of mounds. Monk's Mound, for example, covers an area of 14 acres and rises in 4 terraces to a height of 100 feet. Atop this would have been a massive building another 50 feet high. As the largest prehistoric earthen construction in the Americas, Monk's Mound is a testament to the sophisticated engineering skills of these people. Directions: Cahokia Mounds is located near Collinsville, Illinois. Take I-255 north from I-64 or south from I-55/70 to the Collinsville Road exit. Go 2 miles west on Collinsville Road to the Interpretive Center. From St. Louis, take I-55/70 east 6 miles to State Route 111, go south to light (Collinsville Road), then east 1-1/2 miles to the Interpretive Center. Hours: Interpretive Center: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., phone: (618) 346-5160. Notes from MarkO: Addendum to Dean's Reason. When visiting Cahokia Mounds, one should also drop by and see the reconstructed Woodhenge (part of the Cahokia Mounds Historical sight), which though thousands of miles away from Stonehenge, it served the same purpose. It is amazing how people so far apart could construct similar type calendar keepers. Nowadays, Woodhenge is very popular at sunrise on the solstices as well as the equinoxes. Even for us non pagans, it is quite spiritual to watch the sun rise over the centre pole on the equinoxes. Last spring equinox, I got there pre-dawn to watch Hale Bopp from the top of Monk's Mound, and then walked over to Woodhenge to see the sun rise. And yes, it is a nice place to bring a date - especially if you follow it up with a breakfast.

REASON 77 - THE WORLD'S LARGEST CATSUP BOTTLE
Suggested by Dean Mueller  ♦  As a boy of 16, what was the first thing I wanted to do when I got my driver's license?? Drive the highway into town, instead of the backroads? Impress the girls in town by cruising by in my Dad's green Ford LTD? Drive white-knuckled through the streets of the Big City (i.e., St. Louis)? Park?? Nope. The first thing I just had to do with my new found freedom was find the huge catsup bottle! It haunted me like visions from a dream. In the recesses of my childhood memories, I could see it. Looming over me, reaching up into the sky, the ketchup bottle of giants! And I did. As a matter of fact, years later, I ended up living just down the street from it. At the time, years of neglect were showing. The paint was peeling and rust encrusted it like the dried ketchup drippings of an old bottle lost and forgotten in the bowels of a refrigerator. But that was soon to change, because The World's Largest Catsup Bottle (in Collinsville, Illinois) has been restored to its original 1949 appearance. A parade and lighting ceremony on June 3, 1995 was the climax of a two year effort. They sold nearly 6,000 shirts and promoted donations not only locally, but from across the country. Over $70,000 was raised to repair, sandblast and paint the 170 feet tall bottle-shaped water tower. More funds have been raised to improve the lighting and provide for maintenance. The giant bottle is located on Illinois 159 (800 S. Morrison), midway between I-64 and I-55/70.

REASON 76 - THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  The Cardiac Cards. Terry Metcalf, Jim Hart, Dan Dierdorf. Except for Air-Coryell, a perennial loser and now they are in Arizona and we have the Rams. The football team was... Huh? What? OK! We're talking baaaaaaaaaaseball. Baseball in St. Lou. Stan the Man, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, The Gas House Gang, El Birdos. In 1963, Bill White, Julian Javier, Dick Groat and Ken Boyer were the starting infield at the All-Star game. The St. Louis Cardinals have a rich history... perhaps rivaled only by the Yankees. And now we have Mark McGwire. He only hit 24 home runs in the two months he was here last year. Jack Buck still calls the games at Busch Stadium. Can you imagine... when I was a kid, the Cards had three announcers in the booth - Jack and Harry Carey (rip) and Joe Garigiola, all Hall of Famers. Oh, we have the Rams and the Blues and the Ambush, the most recent world champion here, but this is a baseball town. 2.7 million attendance last year for a pretty pathetic on-field performance. What's that got to do with the Memorial Day weekend? Well, this usually doesn't happen, but they will actually be in town that weekend. Playing the Giants on Friday-Sunday and the Rockies on Monday. In addition there are three promo games that weekend: Beanie Babies on Friday, Cardinal Shirt Day on Sunday and Six Flags Day on Monday.

REASON 75 - GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  Located just across the river, this raceway was originally designed for midget cars, street stock cars and drag racers. But, last year the big boys came to town... Indy cars and Nascars. The CART racing league includes Andretti, Fittipaldi, Luyendyk, Rahal, Unser and Penske. This year the Motorola 300 will be held on May 23. So, why go to Indy? 60,000 fans at the race. 50,000 fans watching baseball. And us. Get your hotel room booked.

REASON 74 - MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDENS
Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  The Missouri Botanical Gardens, located in the City of St. Louis, was first opened in 1859 by Henry Shaw. Its 79 acres are home to over 30 different gardens, as well as a world-famous Botanical Research Center. Some of the most unforgettable features are the Climatron, a geodesic-domed structure inspired by the futuristic designs of R. Buckminster Fuller, full of lush tropical plants (as well as a waterfall!); and Seiwa-En, the Japanese Garden, which is the largest of its type in the Western hemisphere. Travel 'round a 4-acre lake, past waterfalls, and make sure to cross the Drum Bridge and the Yatsuhashi (zig-zag bridge). Other places to stroll, relax, and take in the sights: the English woodland garden; the Chinese Garden; the Samuels Bulb Garden; the "Scented Garden" (you'll be amazed at how odd the various herbs, spices and scented geraniums can be!); the Milles Sculpture Garden and lily ponds; the Goodman Iris Garden; and a real foliage labyrinth. (Luckily, the shrubbery is only shoulder-high; no flashbacks to "The Shining" here.) Exhibits and buildings include: The Kemper Center for Home Gardening (as soon as you get home from the Conference, you'll want to completely re-landscape your property after visiting this pavilion); the Linnean House; Spoehrer Plaza; the Shoenberg Temperate House; and the Tower Grove House, Henry Shaw's former "country villa," which overlooks the Mausoleum Garden where he is buried. Things that might be in bloom over Memorial Day weekend: tall bearded iris; old garden roses; rhododendrons; peonies; forget-me-nots; primroses; columbine; star jasmine; hydrangeas; pansies; dogwoods; and tree lilacs. Last summer, the Botanical Gardens hosted a series of free outdoor jazz concerts. What a way to relax mid-week after work... pack a picnic supper, kick off your shoes and wiggle your toes in the lush grass, and listen to live jazz under the stars. While the concerts won't be happening during the conference, you can wander barefoot through the grass and enjoy your surroundings. The Missouri Botanical Gardens are located at 4344 Shaw Boulevard, just off I-44 and Kingshighway. Admission for non-St. Louis residents is $5... quite a bargain. Click here to take a virtual tour of the Gardens.

REASON 73 - TOWER GROVE PARK
Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  Tower Grove Park, adjacent to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, was established by Henry Shaw (1800-1889) in 1868. The park's 285 acres were once part of Shaw's vast estate, which he donated to form the park and the gardens. At the time he acquired the land in the mid-1800s, the area was quite isolated from the city of St. Louis proper... the rolling countryside was covered in tall, wind-swept grasses with few trees in sight. Shaw envisioned a place where people would get out and explore. To that end, the park was laid out as an English walking garden, with gazebos and pagodas painted in gay colors scattered about the grounds. His concern for the walkers evident, he included many "summer houses" which provided ample shade. He also supervised the planting of over 20,000 trees. All the entrances are guarded by ornamental gateways, with wrought-iron work and stone pylons. Various decorative creatures - lions, bulls, stags - watch over the pedestrians below. A nearby "well-house," one of a dozen built in the early 1870s, provided the only water available to the park until pipeline was laid under nearby Arsenal Street in 1872. Once a tap on this pipe was in place, dedicated to providing for the park, Shaw was able to create a lily pond and fountain near the north entrance. Also on the north side are the "ruins" - a picturesque arrangement of stone blocks from the 1867 fire ruins of the first Lindell Hotel. Toward the east is the Music Stand. Completed in 1872, it is surrounded by polished granite pedestals bearing busts of famous composers. Among the statuary in the park, there are three main pieces all created by sculptor Ferdinand von Miller of Munich: Columbus, von Humboldt, and Shakespeare. This rare Victorian walking park is now listed as a National Historic Landmark.

REASON 72 - UNDERNEATH ST. LOUIS LIES FORMATION
Suggested by Krash  ♦  Over 25 caves have been discovered, forgotten, or destroyed in this city. The history of them all could take multiple books to present completely, so I chose my favorite of them all, and will give you that, plus bonus prizes. As you can imagine, before widely available electricity, and pure running water in the home and business, naturally formed caves were and are the best place for storage, production and dispensing of beer, often structurally shored to allow for safer conditions, sometimes bricked and plastered, ornamented. Yet, there were other uses. Like as hideouts. Or for lovers. In the early 1800s, one Native American couple fled to the Benton Park cave to escape the wrath of the irate chief who wanted the maiden for himself. They were tracked there, and a watch set to prevent their escape (entering the cave was considered extremely bad luck). Rather than face death at the hands of the chief, they chose to remain in the cave, ultimately starving to death. Their bones found in 1888, by early cave explorers in the area. The original entrance to the cave (which has been lost), was by way of a natural shaft 60 feet deep (no stairs either), which opened into a chamber 400 feet long, and twelve to 50 feet wide. Modern day soundings by the Missouri Speleological Society revealed even more available tunnels in what became a complicated dendrite map of what lays beneath. Originally owned by Ezra O. English (I'm not making this up), 1826 birthed the idea of the first commercial use of a cave in the area. For accessibility, he built 50 stone stairs leading down to the master chamber, then across to the second chamber, where a natural spring flowed from the ceiling to a pool below, broken by majestic columns of well met stalagmites and stalactites. For 10 years, his underground brewery/pub flourished, then in 1839 he merged with Isaac McHose to form an underground beer garden and resort, a grand idea. Two years later, very successful, they were speedbumped out of business by the City converting the adjoining commons to a public burial ground to cover the need for the newly arrived cholera epidemic victims. What a splash of cold ice! In 1866, after two more unsuccessful ventures in mushrooms and wine, the City acquired the land, established Benton Park, and has a serious drainage problem since. ;-) Periodically, the lake in the park will lose all its water, and an amazing amount of fill will be dropped on top of the hole, which lasts about 10 years, when another drainage happens. We are about due for another draining. Speaking of draining, two blocks from my house, off of McClausland, down the street from Forest Park, are two caves, whose entrances are either lost, or heavily secreted, that cause unspeakable belches of age old water and debris onto the streets above, when the water table rises after a hard Midwestern rain, and pushes all out, as is Nature's way. They fill the holes, but not the source, I am convinced that an entrance from the street, maybe disguised by grass or bush, is available, and one day I'll walk (or slip ;-) down under.

REASON 71 - TREES
Suggested by Krash  ♦  Oak, cherry, pine, walnut, cypress, fig, a dog's paradise, perhaps a pig, oh look a maple! So majestic, maybe it's papal. I mean it, we have lots of varieties of trees here, most introduced, some indigineous, all well tended by our friends the Division of Forestry, which reports over 300,000 trees just in the City. Papal? How can I use that word to describe a tree? Probably in my mind because of the Vatican opening its doors for Art's sake, as in Cleveland, as in Saint Louis, where this summer we will be hosting the Exhibit on Angels, part of the on tour Vatican treasures.

REASON 70 - THE ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL (BASILICA)
Suggested by MarkO  ♦  The St. Louis Cathedral is a magnificent place to visit whether to go for mass, or to see the mosaics, or to visit the museum, or to contemplate in the catacombs underneath, or to visit the gift shop for religious gifts or postcards. The mosaic collection there was produced over a span of 80 some odd years, started by a man who worked alone and then with his son and then his son alone. The mosaics were finished in the early 80's. I can't remember how many different colors of glass were used in the mosaics or how many millions of pieces of glass were used, but you can find out these things if you go on the free tours offered after mass on Sunday afternoon. All the pictures were initially laid out on the floor of the cathedral, and then one square of glass at a time, they were pressed into the ceiling/wall. Mass is also a spectacle (and I'm sure a religious experience for the Christians amongst us) filled with music, but be forewarned if you have an allergy to incense. There is a lot of it. I'm surprised the smoke from it hasn't damaged the ceiling over the years. So if you are one who enjoys visits to old religious houses of worship or you're just a big (or little) fan of mosaics, then this is a must see in St. Louis.


Reasons 100-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 | 39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1