history

If you hike counter-clockwise around the trail at Valley View Glades, you'll eventually end up on a old wagon road running along a ridgetop. After a bit, the trail leaves the road and descends to a wet weather creek, near a spot where the water plunges over rock ledges and down into a bathtub-sized pool.

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This thing sits like a grounded UFO in Washington State Park.

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After the farm fails and the barbed wire rusts away, what's left? We've seen before that once people and their things leave a place, their plants remain. We've seen that most notably in the springtime daffodils next to the foundation of ruined cabin. Except for the daffodils, I would have walked right by the cabin.

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The Civilian Conservation Corps made Big Spring. Not just the buildings, or the roads and bridges, but the spring.

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In few places is history layered across the landscape like it is in the Hamilton Valley.

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Who was A.P. Greensfelder? It's not a trivial question, since he was involved, either directly or through cooperation with others, in the donation of the land--Rockwoods Range (1,400 acres), Rockwoods Reservation (1,800 acres), and Greensfelder County Park (1,600 acres)--that forms the big chunk of open space in west St. Louis County.

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I went back to Meremec State Park this spring. Were the feral daffodils still there?

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Big Springs is thick with history. We spent a long weekend there in late May, staying in one of the CCC-built cabins on the ridge above the spring branch, and eating dinners in the lodge overlooking the water. We did as close to nothing as possible. No TV. Almost no radio, although oddly enough, the Rev. Larry Rice has a station just down the road.

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How old is a forest? I don't have a good way of answering the question. It's one of those things I have to get at through indirection. But when I find myself surrounding by big trees (see the thumbnail), I have to ask anyway.

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I'm puzzled over a spot at Valley View Glades. Running parallel to the trail, as it heads along the top of the ridge, are a pair of long, straight ditches.

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In the Ozarks, history and nature each contain the other, each depending on the other. It is, I suppose, convenient to think about them as separate things. "History" is the thing people do to the landscape. They chop down trees, cut roads, build houses, clear pastures, run fences. And the things people do leave marks on the landscape, marks as clear and obvious as any written text. The world is a kind a parchment, and we are the pen the marks it. On the other hand, "nature" is everything else, the things that happen when we aren't around.

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Melancholy in the Ozarks. Or, a cemetery fading down into the fallen leaves.

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I stopped by on a windy day. The flags were stiff in the wind (nice), and the air was full of dust (not so nice, since the place was a lead smelter).

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Abandoned cabin sites announce themselves with daffodils in March.

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Is the designation of a "Natural Area" forever? Or can it be rescinded like any other act of the government?

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Finding old ruins is often a matter of catching a brief window in spring.

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