KATY Trail – Riding Solo Along the Missouri

Day 2 – Chesterfield to Hermann

On Friday morning, I got up early to finish packing the bike, have a little breakfast and hit the trail. Bill drove me to the Chesterfield Outlet Mall, which has direct access to the Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail. After just a few minutes, I crossed over the I-64/US 61/40 bridge bike path and was down onto the KATY, heading west. My planned route would take me to McKittrick, where I would take a KATY spur trail, across the river into Hermann, a ride of 55 miles.

It was a cool, but dry morning, perfect riding conditions. Although the trees showed little of the fall colors, that were to come, there were plenty of fallen leaves on the trail. The first part of the ride would take me to Defiance, a village I have visited twice previously, most recently with Keith, Joanette and Bill a couple of days earlier. I did stop briefly in Defiance to pick up a couple of things at the bike shop and then back on the trail.

As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, I would be following, loosely, the path taken by Lewis and Clark and there would be posted historical markers along the way.

Signs like this, were post regularly as I headed west. Generally they had a map, showing where the Lewis and Clark expedition camped, who they encountered and any challenges they faced. One important note, Lewis and Clark, apparently traded with Daniel Boone’s family. As the marker below details.

In 1799, Daniel Boone, and his family moved to Missouri, to what was then Spanish Louisiana (La Luisiana). The family settled an area near Femme Osage Creek, not far from present day Defiance. The Spanish Governor appointed Boone Syndic (Judge and Jury) and Military Commandant in the Femme Osage District. My ride took me through that District and across Femme Osage Creek.

In his position as Syndic, Daniel Boone held court outside, under a tree for shade. Called the Judgement tree, Boone continued, as he had done in Kentucky, the practice of having an outdoor courtroom. I am not sure who coined the phrase, Judgement Tree. Although the actual tree Boone used is now long gone. Sometime after 1926, the tree was killed by lightning, but remained standing until it was blown over in a storm in 1951 and cut up for firewood. In the place where the tree stood, a new tree was planted and signs memorializing the spot have been erected.

Along the trail there were many bridges, too numerous to count. Below is the bridge over Lost Creek, It looks like many of the others, however it has a plaque detailing the construction date of 1897.

After 55 miles I arrived in Hermann. Hermann was settled, beginning in 1837, by the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia. Named for a German military leader, Hermann Der Cheruska, who defeated the Roman’s in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD. Within months of acquiring lands along the Missouri River, the society had many German immigrants interested in settling in that wilderness outpost. The population grew rapidly and by 1842 the county seat had been moved to Hermann. Evidence of Hermann’s German heritage is still visible today in the buildings and businesses.

Given my academic interest in Germany and German Culture, I thoroughly enjoyed my stopover in Hermann. I planned to have bratwurst at The Hermann Wurst Haus, but a private event there forced me to look elsewhere. I found the Tin Mill Brewery and had a bratwurst with sauerkraut and german potato salad and washed it down with a couple of Oktoberfest drafts, all while sitting outside in a Bavarian style Biergarten. Perfect! And, Hermann is in the Missouri wine growing region, with at least 7 wineries nearby. Many of the wineries in the Missouri wine growing region originally were started with root stock from European varieties. And, I don’t think it was an accident that the German Settlement Society chose the Missouri River Valley, because there are remarkable similarities with the Rhine Valley. Bill and I may have to come back in a car sometime, to enjoy those wineries.

Here is my Strava Post for Day 2: https://strava.app.link/8yk6X9Uliab

Day 3 – Hermann to Jefferson City

After breakfast at the Harbor Haus, I was on the trail heading west. My destination – Jefferson City, Missouri’s capitol city. Another cool dry day greeted me, my favorite riding conditions. Today’s ride would be 49.5 miles, all along the northside of the Missouri River, with the exception of the two trail spurs into both cities. The ride would not pass through any sizable cities or towns. But the German influence in town names and architecture could still be seen. Towns like Rhineland and Starkenburg trace their origins back to those early German immigrants. Here, the Church of The Risen Savior in Rhineland, could be anywhere in the German countryside.

One interesting sign I saw regularly in the area was:

Apparently I was close enough, 12 miles, to Ameren’s Calloway Nuclear Power Plant to warrant this notice on the trail. Luckily there were no nuclear events because remembering my grade school training, I was woefully short on desks to get under, and even back then, I wasn’t exactly sure what the desk would protect me from.

The ride took me by a couple more Lewis and Clark markers. To keep this blog from getting totally out of hand, I will post the markers’ pictures. If you want to read more, just expand the picture.

In addition to the Lewis and Clark markers, there were others related to the trail itself. I rode upon this rock and as the marker description indicates, I thought this was a large fallen rock from the cliffs above, but apparently, that is not the case. It is a remnant bluff that has resisted erosion. Throughout the 20th century someone(s) used the rock to mark flood stages. Although very hard to read, the floods of 1903, 1923, 1935, 1943, 1945, 1947 and 1993 were marked.

As I made my way toward Jefferson City, I passed trail markers on the fur trading along the river and the Battle of Côte Sans Dessein, a War of 1812 battle, fought months after the treaty ending the war had been signed. Here are both. By the way, the name roughly means Coast without Design.

As I approached Jefferson City, far in the distance, I began to see the capitol building, rising high above the rest of the city.

In North Jefferson on the trail, there is a spur trail that leads to the separated bike path on the US 54 bridge over the river. I took that and made may way into the city and to my stop for the night, the Capitol Plaza Hotel, a nondescript place, whose primary function is to house legislators, lobbyist and various bureaucrats. But, it was a Saturday night, so the hotel had a great weekend rate to fill its empty rooms.

I think this is enough for this post. I had planned to do all three of the solo riding days in one post, but it is getting a little long, so I will break it here. Tomorrow, Jefferson City to Pilot Grove, my last day along the Missouri.

Here is the link to the ride on Strava: https://strava.app.link/4WhaioYfjab

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