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.