Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Part 2

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

My roommate wanted to see Johnson before it closed so I took him on Saturday, stopping by Elephant Rocks on the way home.

The Ameren proposal for restoring the park has been posted and accepted, and work starts on Monday. The people that visited the park one last time on Saturday were in a chatty mood, and included one of the engineering contractors who had been at the dam site just after it broke, and another older gentlemen who had some wonderful stories of the area.

He told me about visiting his uncle who had a farm not far from the shut-ins. At night they’d climb down the hill and would fish the river by lantern light, because, (his uncle told him), fish caught by lantern were better tasting.

Each time he finished a story he would look down at the shut-ins and the river and would point out the boulders and rocks that didn’t fit. It’s odd, but I had noticed that the shut-ins weren’t ‘right’ since the flooding, but it took his eye for me to see all pieces that didn’t belong.

He was friends with the man that owned the white house right across the road from the park, built just high enough on the hill that the waters flowed around but not through. Said that it took out the barn, though, but at that they felt lucky.

He mentioned about Ameren also running a nuclear power plant, a comment taken up by the engineer: doesn’t give you a lot of confidence that a company that would let a dam break also was in control of a nuclear power plant. The young man from the forest service there to answer questions kept silent, but would, from time to time, nod his head.

All of us agreed that moving the campground upriver and far away from the dam that’s going to be re-built is a good idea.

As to the gentleman who fished by lantern light when he was a kid, I guessed he was probably in his 70s or maybe 80s. As he shared his memories, he would look out over the Shut-Ins and his eyes would begin to mist over. He’d abruptly stop talking and look away for a few moments until composed.

One of the other folks mentioned that the forest service person had told them the park could be closed up to two years, so this really will be my last story on the Shut-Ins for a long time to come. I was surprised at how little all of this was in the newspaper–not even a hint about the restoration plan or the closure. I guess it’s just a story from Missouri and no one died.

Anyway, photo show from the day.

Almost all of the peach, pink, and rust rocks and boulders in this picture was dumped by the flood–over 6 feet in places. The plan calls for all of this to be removed, but they can’t bring in equipment and a helicopter can’t handle the air current in the area. Should be an interesting challenge.


The force of the flood pushed hundreds of trees over that amazingly enough, still continued to thrive.


There are other Johnson Shut-Ins photos in the slide show, but the rest of these pictures were at the Elephant Rocks state park.



I didn’t have the heart to tell these young women that there was a really easy way to get to the top.


The park had just broken a new trail to the old quarry building. Look at the exquisite rock work that went into the walls.




There has been some news on the closure, such as this story, which also details a political tug-o-war in this state surrounding Jay Nixon, Democratic challenger to current governor Blunt. Nixon has been cleared by an ethics committee. The state is also seeking Church Mountain by way of compensation from Ameren.

Second Update

Ameren is fined 15 million dollars.

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