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Traveling Highway 25

Posted Saturday, February 20, 2010, at 10:13 AM

I found this 1941 photo of the paving of Highway 25 on Ken Steinhoff's website at http://www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-photos/scott-city-i-55-interchange-under-construction-in-1960s. Many local residents tell stories about what it was like, traveling this highway before it was completely paved.
Old roads have been on my mind and in the news lately, as the furor continues in Cape Girardeau over the looming threat of losing the old Bloomfield Road to Progress.

We talked about the Bloomfield Road at the last Stoddard County Historical Meeting, and we're studying it again this Monday night. James Baughn is coming to show us the route the old road took.

We've also talked about Highway 25, since it's been such an important thoroughfare in this area for so many years. In 2006 when I wrote the stories for "Unlocking the Past: A History of Stoddard County Towns," I found that everyone had a story about Highway 25 before and shortly after it was paved. So many longtime area residents told me about driving 25 when it was half-paved and half gravel.

However, nobody could ever put their finger on the exact date of that paving, so imagine my delight when I discovered a date! Recently, I was beebopping around on both Facebook and James Baugh's Southeast Missourian blog "Pavement Ends," and I saw a comment by Ken Steinhoff. I recognized his name from a Facebook link that I had clicked on recently. Steinhoff, a 1965 graduate of Cape Central, has been a newspaper photographer most of his life. He is pretty good at digging up old photos from his own archives and who-knows-what-other sources. Steinhoff posted a link to his website at http://www.capecentralhigh.com site - and there was an old photo of the paving of Highway 25 - complete with the date - 1941.

If you love old things, click on the link and ENJOY!! While I was writing this blog, I couldn't resist a little side trip and was treated to the most wonderful 50's vintage photos from Cape. Scrolling down farther, I saw Ken's old Valentines from his mother's attic!

I asked 95-year-old Paul Corbin if he remembered the paving of Highway 25. He says he remembers hearing the construction work when he ran his Ben Franklin "dime store" in Advance back in the forties.

Today at the senior center in Advance, Juanita Holder told me that Highway 25 at "Hilltop" was paved when she was in college in 1947. (Hilltop is about 4 miles south of Advance at the intersection of 25 and 91, the highway which goes east to Bell City.)

When I interviewed Al Painton in 2006, he told me that he remembered the trip to Bloomfield, when Highway 25 was paved on the west side.

"We liked to go to Bloomfield, because we could drive on pavement all the way. When we came back to Painton, we had to drive on the unpaved side," Painton said.

I gather from the stories that motorists drove on the pavement until someone was coming from the opposite direction - Then they would get back on their side.

Old Highway 25 is now called Stoddard County 307. If you're traveling south out of Advance, County Road 307 exits to the east, loops around back south across the flatlands, and then enters Crowley's Ridge, where it parallels the current Highway 25. It crosses 91 at the Mennonite Church and continues south until it loops again west back to the new 25 near a location locals call "Cooperville."

At least, that's where I THINK it ends up. If I'm wrong, I have no doubt that someone will straighten me out at the Monday night meeting.

I'm by no means an expert on this topic. Not sure who told me I was wrong about where Crowley's Ridge began - which is much farther north than I thought. There are so many hills out here, and some of them have breaks in them, where (as Dr. Frank Nickell told us), the Kehokia Torrent broke through them thousands (or was it millions?) of years ago.

As you can obviously tell, I am just fascinated by all this information, and I am so happy when someone furnishes me with new data!

If you're interested, come on out Monday night, Feb. 22 to join us in traveling the old Bloomfield Road. Who knows what sidetrips we'll take? We'll meet at the Stars & Stripes Museum at Bloomfield -- business meeting at 6:30 p.m. and program should begin at 7 p.m.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Thanks for noticing the photo of the steam roller on Rt. 25. The URL under the picture should be


-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Sat, Feb 20, 2010, at 5:25 AM
Madeline DeJournett's response:
Thanks, Ken. I think I've changed that site. If my readers want to check it, they'll have to copy and paste the url, as it didn't come out as a hyper-link.

I'm new to this technology, and I admit that I haven't been able to figure out how to turn a phrase into a hyper-link.

I'm really glad I discovered your website! I enjoy it very much. I taught at Cape Central from...let's see...1966 to 1969, when my husband and I moved to Alaska. I guess I just missed you, if you graduated in '65. Your site sure brings back memories!

Again, another one of my favorite roads! All my friends favor the interstate to get to Cape, but I love the rolling hills and scenery of Highway 25. I also feel that, if I should have an emergency, I would find friendly neighbors along 25 that would help me. The Mennonite or Amish families along the way are so nice...stop and buy flowers, furniture, etc. whenever you can! I love the Red Door antique store in Delta...stopping in at McDonald's in Advance to sneak a treat on the way up to Cape...I love Highway 25!

-- Posted by lovebooks on Sat, Feb 20, 2010, at 10:35 AM

Oh, yes -- Love Highway 25! And you're right about the friends who would help you, lovebooks -- whether in Bloomfield, Aquilla, Advance, Arbor or Delta!

My daughter and I once got a 3-inch steel screw of some type in a tire, and a very nice man at Arbor used his air gun to get the lugs loose and put on my spare. And, of course, it was pitch dark when it happened!

As for Red Door Antiques in Delta, I could spend HOURS in there, browsing through all that fun stuff!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Feb 20, 2010, at 7:03 PM

My mother sent me a message about the stretch of 25 going into Advance. That project was where she met my Dad.

She said, "You missed a chance to tell everyone that your mother was the first to ride the road from Delta when it was paved. I wrote my name in the new road before we were married. [I've looked for the spot, but it's been repaved many times since then.] I remember well how it was to drive on it when one side was paved and the other side gravel. I learned to drive on that road."

For the record, she just got her driver's license renewed and has been (as far she'll admit) accident-free ever since she started to drive. I was a little bit concerned about her driving until I followed her down I-55 from St. Louis a couple of years ago.

She showed good traffic awareness, signaled all lane changes and didn't go down the road texting. She's safer than most drivers on the road today.

Here's what she looked like on a bike just about the time Rt. 25 was paved.


You Advance folks will remember her as Mary Welch, daughter of Roy and Elsie Welch.

Here is a link to some of her Birthday Season photos.

From 2008: http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com/its-mo...

From 2009: http://www.palmbeachbiketours.com/mother...

-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Sun, Feb 21, 2010, at 10:40 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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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 advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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