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Slow down and save a scenic roadPosted Monday, December 21, 2009, at 7:29 AM
I don't know if any of our Statesman viewers have been keeping up with the controversy over the stretch of Bloomfield Road from Cape Girardeau east to Highway 74. I think you Dexter folks call Highway 25 "the old way," so you may take I-55 to Cape, but we inhabitants of North Stoddard County take 25 to 74 at Dutchtown - and then to Bloomfield Road, which turns off at that awful Strack Gravel yard and winds past Dalhousie Golf course and then to west Cape.
The trees arch over the road at the top of the hill, making a yellow canopy in the fall. In the spring, purple Sweet Williams grow wild alongside the pavement, and grape vines 5 inches or more in diameter drape from tall trees. It is truly a breath-taking drive.
It seems that the narrow, winding road is dangerous, yet it gets a large amount of traffic for a country road, because it provides a short-cut to the shopping area around Walmart. According to one resident, there have been 30 injury accidents and one death over the last three years.
For this reason, there is increasing support for widening and straightening out Bloomfield Road, taking down the trees, and turning this beautiful road into just another stretch of dull, ordinary highway.
This section of the old Cape to Bloomfield Road is one of the few left which retains the original beauty of that pre-Civil War road. Once an Indian trail, the historic path was used by Civil War forces, who used to camp at the natural spring - which many motorists probably think is just a moss-covered duck pond.
The road wound west along the top of the hill, then turned south and followed Crowley's Ridge to the old town of Bloomfield, which was a bustling center of activity in the mid-to-late 1800's.
What would I give to travel that route today? Most of it is gone, and few people other than, perhaps, Dr. Frank Nickell (Southeast Mo. history department) or Joe Brown (Southeast Mo. sage) even know where it was.
Louis Houck, historian and railroad tycoon, chose the Bloomfield Road area in which to build a reproduction of a Scottish castle for his bride. There are many of us who believe that Houck did more for Southeast Missouri than any other figure in history. The man is a legend, and he rode his horse back and forth from his home - Dalhousie (and I'm NOT talking about the golf course) - along that very Bloomfield Road to the college to supervise the building of Acadamic Hall in 1905.
How can anyone even think of destroying that road? Why is it not protected?
I drove to Cape Sunday and was pleased to see electronic speed signs put up at both ends of Bloomfield Road. The speed limit is 35 m.p.h., and I pray that these signs will make us remember to keep our speed down.
In the summertime, the narrow road winds past the Sweet Williams and a white fence. If you travel early in the morning or in the evening, you may see a doe with twin fawns, as we did many years ago.
How can anyone want to use this road as a race track?
It'll be the voters in Cape who will have a say-so in this issue. The only thing we travelers can do is slow down, abide by the speed limit, and - for God's sake - do NOT use that stretch as a short cut when you're late for work, a doctor's appointment, or a shopping trip.
If the weather is bad, take another route. Bloomfield Road is not a good place to be when the ice hits.
I have loved that stretch of old road for more than fifty years. It breaks my heart to think that bulldozers will push down those old trees and straighten out a road which has been a place of peace, beauty and history for over 300 years.
From the rolling hills of Tillman, Mo., at the northern edge of Crowley's Ridge, this is your rural reporter, Madeline, wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! May we all slow down and enjoy the season.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at email@example.com.