Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Don't Pay The Ferryman


If you live in this area, you’ll hear the Dorena Hickman Ferry mentioned.   As a bit of trivia, Kentucky and Missouri are the only two border states in the United States that are not directly connected by a road.  Someone might say “Aha, but what about at Wickliffe?”.  You can easily get to Missouri from Wickliffe, but you have to cross a bridge from there to Illinois and then to Missouri.  I’d read about the ferry online so I thought to myself – “Why don’t I just take a ride and see for myself?”.  So, I mapped a path for the Dorena Missouri landing and headed out.  The trip takes a little over an hour from where I live.  I crossed over the previously mentioned bridges.  I did note there is now a gas station when you get to the Missouri side.  You should especially note this if you are going to Dorena.  Why?  There is pretty much nothing else for the rest of your approximately 30 minute drive. 

I reached the Dorena landing with no problem.  I had read that you must press a button to summon the ferry.   However when I got there, it was already there.  The end gate was open and I could pull my car right on.  The ferry was much bigger than I imagined. It could easily hold several semis.  When I pulled on, a gentlemen came up to talk to me.   He asked if I would turn my car around so it would be easier for me to get off.  I had plenty of room and he helped me as well.  Once I got turned around, we talked a bit.  He said I could stay in my car with the air on, or I could just walk around or go to the railing.  It cost 14.00 to cross.  He gave me a receipt that he said I could use whenever I wanted to for a 7.00 return trip.  He told me it was about 1.25 miles to the opposite shore where Hickman KY is.  I had the run the ferryboat.  The part I (and my car was on) was concrete.  It was no problem walking back and forth.  I even caught a little breeze as I watched the river and shores.  I would say this was as close as I’d ever get to doing what Huck Finn did. It took a little over fifteen minutes to reach the other side.  He unlatched the gate once we got to the other side.  I drove right off and was in Hickman KY.

I’ve always found it interesting that not only is Hickman not in Hickman County (it’s in Fulton County) but it’s the county seat.  The city of Fulton in Fulton County is not even though it’s quite a bit bigger.  The county seat of Hickman County which borders Fulton County to the north is Clinton by the way.  I hope that wasn’t too confusing.  Anyway, I (being me of course) had scouted out a couple of options for lunch.  I headed for the first one called Broadway Pizza.   It looked like an old building with a faded Pepsi sign in front.  So, I tried to find the South 7th Grill.   My GPS took me to an empty lot.  So, I headed back to Broadway Pizza.  It was a small building with just a counter to order and no seating.  I did see the lady at the counter cutting up a chocolate pie.  She told me when I walked in that the daily special was hamburger steak.  I asked if that came with grilled onions and she said “Yes and gravy”.  So, I was hooked and ordered that.  I also asked for a slice of the chocolate pie.  I sat on a bench to wait.  It didn’t take too long.  She also told me a canned drink came with it.  I got the hamburger steak, mashed potatoes and green beans plus a roll (and my drink and pie) for 8.00.  I didn’t think that was too bad.  The thing was I needed to find a place to sit and eat. 

The last time I’d been to that area was when the boys were in high school  They used to regularly run in cross country events at Fulton County High School.  So, I went to that parking lot.  I sat there and ate my lunch.  I took the pie home and ate it later (it was pretty good).  On the way home, I went through Cayce (the home of Cayce (Casey) Jones – the famed railroad engineer.  I noticed there was even a Cayce Café (Cayce would make Hickman look like a bustling metropolis).  I may have to try that at some point.  I made it home with no issue.    So, if you are looking for a neat trip across the Mississippi and a good meal afterwards, I’d recommend it.

By the way, if you don’t understand the title reference, you’re not a real fan of 1980s music 😊.



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Iron Banks Lodge


I really enjoy history. I had a goal of visiting Civil War sites in our area after my retirement.  Unfortunately, COVID put a crimp in that.  Now that things are finally opening up, I had decided to start visiting these sites.  The first one on my list is one that is well known to many in our area.  I decided to visit Columbus Belmont State Park.  This park is well known for the “big anchor” (which I’ll talk about in a minute).  It is located in Columbus Kentucky.  This is a very small town.  It makes our local town of Kevil look like a bustling metropolis.  Don’t take that the wrong way.  I love small towns and the neat places you’ll often find there.  I certainly found a few in Columbus.

While doing research for a drive down there (it’s only about 45 minutes from where we live), I discovered there was a place to stay close to the park called the Iron Banks Lodge.  I talked with Donna and she said she’d enjoy an overnight stay there.  I contacted the person responsible for the Lodge and reserved us a room.  She told us that we would have the whole place to ourselves so we could come in the morning and stay til 11 the next day.  That sounded great so on the morning we were to check in, we headed out and got there a little after ten.

We got there with no trouble.  When we pulled up, we were greeted with a wonderful view of the Mississippi River.  The lodge was absolutely beautiful.  There was a kitchen stocked with snacks, coffee and soft drinks.  There was a dining area and big living room area.  We went to our bedroom upstairs and it was really nice.  There was a balcony on the 2nd floor with beautiful views of the Mississippi River.  There was also a TV room with reclining seats.  We’d never stayed in a nicer place. 

It got to be lunchtime.  Even with me snacking already, I got hungry.  I had found two restaurants in the area that were also about ¼ of a mile from the Lodge.  One of them was closed for vacation.  We went to the other one which was “Beards and Roses General Store”.  It was a small general store but they also cooked food.  I got a honey bun hamburger (a hamburger between two honey buns).  Donna got a BLT.  They also make their own ice cream.  I got chocolate fudge and Donna got espresso.  We took it back to the lodge to eat and it was all excellent.  We then went to the Columbus Belmont Park (less than a mile away).  We saw the “big anchor” and part the of the chain originally attached to it.  The original plan of the Confederacy was to stretch the chain and anchor across the Mississippi River to block the approach of Union forces via the river.  They ended up abandoning that plan.  The battle of Belmont (across the river in Missouri) was one of the first of Ulysses Grant’s Civil War career.  The park has beautiful views of the river.  There are several hiking trails as well as a playground and picnic shelters.  The museum (along with snack bar and miniature golf) were closed however.  It turned out that were only open Wednesday through Sunday.  We still enjoyed our visit there.  We went back to the lodge and relaxed in the TV room.

Later we decided to walk down the street in front of the lodge.  It was a long downhill slope.  At the bottom was the Ingram Barge company as well as a boat landing.  We got to walk right up the edge of the river.  The trip back up the hill was quite the walk, but we made it OK.  We got dinner from the General Store again.  We ate and just rested for the remainder of the evening.  We got up the next morning and walked back to the park.  It was cooler and we had a very enjoyable time just walking around.  The park was not crowded at all. 

There were breakfast items in the refrigerator to eat.  There were also packaged honey buns (which I ate too many of).  Later that morning, we packed up our stuff and left.  We left with some regret because we really enjoyed our stay.  We will definitely come back so we can have another relaxing time.  I’d also like to come when the Park museum is open to check that out.  If you want a relaxing day or two or you are interested in visiting the Columbus Belmont State Park, I’d recommend you visit.  Their web site is here and you can use the contact information there to make a reservation.