St. Albans is another one of those places that you just have to stumble on. It’s well off the main drag and it looks like any other suburban neighborhood from the outside. And like most neighborhoods, there are some great stories hidden in plain sight.
As early as 1804, Lewis and Clark heard from the Native Americans and French Fur Traders that this was the cool place to stay because of Tavern Cave (Famous for the coldest ales and the cheapest eats… wait that’s Fast Eddies.) Tavern Cave was popular because it was big, it was sheltered, and it was right beside the Missouri River. Well because they didn’t have to waste any time setting up camp Merriweather Lewis decided to climb up the bluffs to see if he could get a better view to plan their travel for the next day and on his way up he slipped and fell almost 300 feet to only to be stopped when he jammed his knife straight into the side of the rock wall narrowly escaping an early and tragic end to the famous expedition. (I’m still crying bologna sandwich on this… guys are good at puffing up their stories and ML is no different.) Well the story doesn’t stop there. Just like the last 2 times old Lou and Clark showed up on our blog, someone decided that would be a good place to settle down. By 1892 there were several grand country homes and a store that still sits in its original location (it’s on the national register of historic places). Over time it featured a favorite hunting club and in 1988 was purchased to make way for the planned community you see now; complete with two 18 hole golf courses.
The river has changed course, and then was moved when they decided to widen and deepen it to make shipping easier. Tavern cave is no longer a hoppin’ place. In fact, you can’t even access it. There is a nice historical marker randomly placed to tell you it’s about a mile “that way” so I’m not real sure where it is. But that shouldn’t stop you from making a visit to little St. Albans.
There is a little lake that we like to walk around. It’s scenic, there’s a small beach with a nice playground, and there are turtles that plop into the water as you walk by. It’s an easy breezy walk.
One time that we went to St. Albans, minus children, we heard a freight train approaching slowly. The tracks cut right in front of the general store, and we joked to each other that if we drove a train, we’d hop out and get a piece of pie when we passed. We were tickled when the train engineer did just that! That simple slowed down moment endeared St. Albans to us forever. How we wish that Clarence could have seen it! Here he is on his own set of tracks.When you are good and tired, go into Head’s store and get some lunch. They have a great deli which is open 7 days a week but on the weekends you can taste some of that mouth watering Pappy’s BBQ from the city (they almost always sell out within a few hours at their flagship store downtown, so this is a great way to get your hands on some Pappy’s without waiting in long lines). On this visit we met a fellow Sunday Driver named Mark. Normally he prefers hikes and takes pictures of stunning scenery but today he decided to rest his legs and go for a Sunday Drive, which we were excited to hear. I asked him for his favorite Missouri spots to visit and he said the Ozark trail is a must. He’s hiked all 300 miles of it several times in his life (not all at once, I asked).
Stay a while and be sure to talk to people at the store. The St. Albanites always seem happy to welcome us and are eager to tell about the area.
Until next time, thanks for Driving with Us.