If it were possible to go back in time, about 18,000 years ago, and fly over the area where Creve Coeur Airport is located, one of the most striking features might be the half mile high ice cliffs that would be visible about forty miles to the North. Or maybe not. The truth is that nobody knows for sure exactly how close to St. Louis the ice sheets came at the time period known as the last Glacial Maximum or in our area, the Wisconsinan Period. The time period we live in today is called an Inter-Glacial. It is not really correct to say that the last Ice Age is over. In the last Million years, ice sheets have advanced and withdrawn several times. We just happen to live in a relatively warm period between Glacial periods. In any event we owe a great deal to the last Glacial Maximum because it left us with a wonderful flat piece of ground in which to build an airport. It also left us with a beautiful but often pesky river known as the Missouri. Our general area is known as the Howard Bend District but the bend in the river nearest the airport is called Spring House Bend. The Howard Bend is near The City and County Water Works plants. Not sure where the names came from but I'm working on that.
The other rather obvious geological feature in our area is what's left of a horseshoe bend or a cut off meander now known as Creve Coeur Lake. Up until the 1950s, there were actually two lakes but Upper Creve Coeur Lake or Little Creve Coeur Lake as it was known, eventually dried up due to the loss of a creek channel that replenished it and also due to the fact that for many decades, it was used as a source of natural ice for refrigeration. The first railroad ran through our valley in 1881 and one of it's primary cargoes was ice cut from the lakes and stored in enormous ice barns on the lake shore. By the late 1880s, Creve Coeur Lake had become a regional tourist destination and with the opening of the second rail line in 1882 the lake's popularity continued to grow. By 1903 an electric trolley serviceconnected the City to Creve Coeur Lake's upper park and for the next twenty five years, it was the place to be.
By the time of the Prohibition Era, Creve Coeur Lake's popularity was starting to decline and with the arrival of The Great Depression, the area around the lake was largely taken over by speakeasys, gangsters, and houses of ill repute. By the mid 1940s the lake was known more as a place to avoid than a place for visit. In 1945 it was purchased by St. Louis County and became the first park in their park system. After many years of hard work, Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park is once again one of the most visited parks in the St. Louis area.
Do you have interesting images of the Howard Bend area or of Creve Coeur Lake from the old days? Would you like to see them posted on this website? We are always on the lookout for interesting historical images of our area. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have images or information that you would consider allowing us to post on this website.