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Bloomfield Road Massacre

Posted Monday, July 25, 2011, at 6:10 PM

Photo courtesy of Ken Steinhoff at capecentralhigh.com
No, I'm not talking about the Civil War

For you sharp thinkers out there, who were expecting a story from the Civil War, sorry--this isn't it!

"Minimizing" or "clear-cutting"? You decide!

Those of us in Stoddard County have been watching helplessly as the events in Cape County unfold around the historic Bloomfield Road, leading into Cape from the south.

When the Cape Special Road District first put out the word that the old road was going to be widened for "safety purposes," the district assured concerned citizens that they would handle the work with care to "minimize" the effect on the centuries-old trees, which (if you remember) arched over the road to form a yellow, shaded canopy in the fall. Breath-taking!

Unfortunately, the agency in charge seems to have a different definition of the word "minimize" than I do.

My good blogger friend Ken Steinhoff (capecentralhigh.com) came to Advance Wednesday to interview Paul Corbin for a history blog--then he and his nearly-90-year-old mother, Mary Lee Welch Steinhoff, went back to Cape by Bloomfield Road.

If you watch Ken's blog like I do, you know that he photographs everything he sees, as he travels around the U.S. His photos are spectacular, and he is fearless! (So is Mama Steinhoff!)

The photo above is his, taken on Wednesday, July 20, 2011. The results are clear: To heck with "minimizing"....those trees have been "clear-cut"!

Why do we care?

In case some of you are wondering why we Stoddard Countians care about Bloomfield Road, here are my own reasons, which are shared by many others in this region:

* The road is an important part of the history of this entire Southeast Missouri region. Before the region was developed, the road was an Indian trail, whereby the indigenous folk could travel from Cape south down to Arkansas along Crowley's Ridge above the swamplands.

* The ridge, of course, received its name from Benjamin Crowley, the first European settler to reach the area (near present day Paragould, Arkansas) sometime around 1820. The Civil War Battle of Chalk Bluff was fought on Crowley's Ridge on May 1--2, 1863. Benjamin Crowley obviously traveled this route, which was later to be known as the "Cape to Bloomfield Road."

* The old Bloomfield Road played an important part in the Civil War, as troops from both the north and south traveled up and down its length, stopping to camp at various springs along the way.

* One of those springs exists along the Bloomfield Road section which will be stripped in the next installment of the Cape "improvements." Heaven only knows what will happen when the forces of "Progress" meet with the forces of nature.

* The history of the region is further enhanced in my mind because of the estate of a man I greatly admire--Louis Houck. I consider him one of the most important men in the history of Southeast Missouri--and not just because his railroad resulted in the founding of Advance in 1881.

Houck's home of Elmwood lies behind that beautiful white fence, which so many wayward vehicles have crashed through. Houck rode his horse in from Elmwood to supervise the building of Academic Hall back in 1905.

* On the purely aesthetic side of the issue, I am one of many travelers who has welcomed a drive along that scenic road, lined with ancient trees and sprinkled with wild sweet Williams. I've seen spotted fawns standing in the grass, watching traffic in that beautiful section where those idiots keep going too fast and breaking through the white fence. Yes--I said "idiots"! This is my blog, and I do not have to be politically correct here! If you want to report me to my boss, so be it!

Over the years, I've taken visitors to see that beautiful drive into Cape. It is--pardon me--"was" a showpiece.

Why would anyone want to destroy it? Who could be responsible for its destruction? Is it really, truly as "unsafe" as the Cape Road District says it is? Are there larger forces at work here? Might those forces have to do with a tiny hard ball that people hit over long distances??

As I understand it, someone (don't know who, but it would have to be a descendant of Houck, I should think) sold 900 acres of the historic estate to the developers of Dalhousie Golf Course.

Money talks, doesn't it?

According to the current publicity, there will be more hearings on the next section of development of Bloomfield Road (the present "improvement" was estimated to take 11 months). Officials are dangling a carrot in front of Cape voters, it would seem, telling them that they certainly can come and offer "suggestions."

My sister, who worked 28 years for the City of Springfield, Mo., said that it sounds like the Public Works Dep't of her city. They set up a website for resident comments on a project, but the city manager said, "This is not a popularity contest! We're going to do what we want to do."

There you have it. Sorry, Mr. Houck! You lose!

To see the full story and more photos, go to Ken's Blog at www.capecentralhigh.com/cape-photos/city...

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

Hey, Lovebooks, do you also remember that old home place towards the south end that had all those daffodils growing along the road in the spring????

I'm with you, rest in peace our lovely old friend!!!molater, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Wed, Jul 27, 2011, at 11:57 AM

You said it, lovebooks! Read the comments on Ken's blog to see how many people feel the same way we do!

-- Posted by goat lady on Mon, Jul 25, 2011, at 6:08 PM

This entire chain of events just absolutely makes me sick. I can't tell you how many times I've driven down Bloomfield Road into Cape just so I could slow down and take pictures in the fall, or to stop and look at the impatiens planted along the way. My son once commented, "Mom, this road is like a car commercial!" Obviously, whoever made this ridiculous decision didn't grow up going to Cape in the summers before air-conditioning. My mom and dad would always "cut through" on Bloomfield Road because it was instant A/C feeling in our blue 1963 Chevy stationwagon. And the excuse that we need sidewalks along Bloomfield Road? How absolutely absurd. Rest in Peace, Bloomfield Road.

-- Posted by lovebooks on Mon, Jul 25, 2011, at 4:11 PM

I recently heard another interesting/disturbing point about the destruction of the old trees. If new trees are planted, the problem is 1) how will they be watered? and 2) how will they replace the genetically superior trees of the past--which have proven their longevity?

Oh, heck! I'm too depressed to think about it any longer!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Jul 22, 2011, at 4:25 PM

Sounds like the "powers that be" in the city of my birth need to be stripped bare, and rolled around among those stumps that Ken Steinhoff photographed so poignantly!!!! Anybody familiar with that plant "leaves of three"???? Would serve the busnitches right, just get 'em all "wallered" around in it!! I'll miss the old road, it was one of my favorite parts of going into Cape the "back way", regards to all, kkr

-- Posted by kkcaver47 on Fri, Jul 22, 2011, at 2:07 PM

This is interesting--Ken, how did you post a comment five minutes before this blog was posted???

You are positively psychic--and just too technologically-advanced to be human!!

As for the fate of Bloomfield Road, I am SO disappointed with the "Powers that Be" in a city that I have loved ever since I first saw it 50 years ago. I have always maintained that Cape is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I hate to admit that it's going downhill, but this just seems to be another in a long line of very foolish decisions!

-- Posted by goat lady on Fri, Jul 22, 2011, at 11:14 AM

Thanks for sharing this with your readers. Here are other stories I've done about Bloomfield Road and other historic highways:

Have we lost Bloomfield Road? (The answer, we found out, was "Yes.")


The spring on Bloomfield Road.


I was right when I said they'd rev up the chainsaws.


How Cape seems to lose its parks, like Mt. Tabor


Snake Hill is defanged:


Mount Auburn Road started as a scenic drive:


-- Posted by ksteinhoff on Fri, Jul 22, 2011, at 10:58 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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