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Wilson’s Blog

Today in St. Louis, Missouri, Ditch and I had a great, great time. St. Louis has the Gateway Arch – you know that, right? – And a museum of Westward Expansion next to it.

By the ways, `westward expansion’ means when people long ago came to America and started moving and living in the west part of the country.

I learned that today too. At the museum they had a lot of old maps and supplies that explorers used. Ditch liked it as much as he liked going up to the top of the Arch!

Do you like dogs? I do. Yup, Ditch and I are gophers who love dogs. We had a dog in our little village where we lived with Mommy. Our dog’s name: “The One Who Tries to Stand on One Leg and Tries to Whistle.” It was a long name but we liked it.

I’m writing about dogs because today we went to the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog. Everything about dogs is there – pictures, information, videos, and famous dogs.

And, an All-Star Dog Hall of Fame! But, guess what? You are not allowed to bring your own dog there! True fact!

After museum, Ditch’s stomach was yelling for food. So we went to eat ice cream cones – at two different places. We learned ice cream cone was invented in St. Louis. I did not know that.

We ran to go on a steamboat ride – finally we got on one – up and down the Mississippi River! There is nowhere like St. Louis! Or, some call it: St. Louie! My gopher hat off to this city!

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Gateway Arch and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The 630 foot-tall Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Its huge curved structure weighs 17,246 tons and is made up of 886 tons of shiny stainless steel. Visitors can take a four-minute tram ride to the top in a tiny “pod” that only fits five people at a time. Once atop the arch, visitors can look out the small windows over the Mississippi River and the St. Louis area. On a clear day, you can see almost 30 miles in each direction. The south leg of the arch is home to The Museum of Westward Expansion, which has exhibits of life in the 1800s, Indian Peace Medals, teepees, covered wagons and items from the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Robotic figures tell stories about life in the early days of the frontier. Catch the movie Monument to the Dream at The Odyssey Theater to hear the story of the building of the arch. Don’t forget to earn a Junior Ranger Badge at either the arch or the museum -- or both!

Gateway Arch Riverboats

From the St. Louis Riverfront below the Gateway Arch, head out on the Mississippi River on a sixty-minute riverboat cruise with a National Park Service ranger. Learn about the history of this famous American river while traveling on a 19th century model steamboat. Steamboats are used mainly on lakes and rivers, using paddlewheels that turn like wheels to propel the boat down the river. The narrated tour tells stories from Mark Twain and what life was like at the time of the steamboats.

Forest Park

This 1300-acre park opened in 1876 and was the site of the 1904 World's Fair. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, with almost 500 more acres than Central Park in New York City. Monuments, historic buildings, wildlife, waterways, a Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center and an Opera house are all located within the park. Overlooking the park, is Turtle Playground, home to three large and four small concrete turtles to climb and play on. During the fall, visitors can take a tractor-pulled hayride through the park. Facilities for golf, tennis, bicycling, boating, fishing, baseball, ice-skating, jogging and more are available year-round.

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

This amazing children’s museum has more than 100 activities for kids to enjoy. Hands-on exhibits include a school bus, a television news studio, a fishing pond, a grocery store, a diamond mine, a kitchen, and a builder’s workshop. It is also equipped with a Fairy Tale Tower with a grand staircase, play gardens, ropes to swing from, mazes, tunnels and sandboxes throughout to keep kids active. Stage lovers can perform in a puppet show, try on clothes from the past, play instruments or read poems in Poem Tree Hall. Young scientists will enjoy learning about electrostatic energy, magnets, generators and water-power. History lovers will enjoy the Star Spangled Center where you can raise the American flag, sign The Declaration of Independence, walk through the Oval Office, vote in an electronic voting booth or ring The Liberty Bell. If all this wasn’t enough, there is also an entire room devoted just to bubbles.

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Local Chow

Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey butter cake is traditionally baked and sold in St. Louis. The story is that sometime in the 1930s a baker who was trying to make regular cake batter accidentally switched the amounts of sugar and flour in the recipe. The result was a very gooey, but delicious cake. The cakes are made with a sweet dough on the bottom and a top layer of either egg and cream cheese, or butter and sugar. The top of the cake is dusted with powdered sugar before being served. Because it is so sweet, it is usually served as a type of coffee cake and not as a dessert cake. The many variations of this St. Louis delicacy are available all over the city at grocery stores and local bakeries.

"I love gooey butter cake!"

"I once switched flour with sugar and instead of gooey cake I got gloopey cake."

"Gloopey sounds even more deelicious!"

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Digging History


St. Louis is founded by French traders who named the city for King Louis IX of France.


St. Louis is made the capital of Upper Louisiana.


St. Louis is secretly transferred back to France by the Treaty of San Ildefonso.


Napoleon Bonaparte, leader of France, sells St. Louis to the United States under President Thomas Jefferson, as part of the Louisiana Purchase.


The first steamboat, the Zebulon M. Pike, arrives in St. Louis on the banks of the Mississippi River.


Missouri becomes a state.


St. Louis is incorporated as a city.


The first streetcar tracks are put down in St. Louis.


The Eads Bridge, the first combined road and railway bridge to cross the Mississippi River, is completed.


The World's Fair and first United States hosted Olympic Games are held in St. Louis.


The Gateway Arch is constructed as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

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