St. Louis Gateway Arch is rusting

The landmark Gateway Arch, part of a National Park Service site on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, is corroding, and no one seems to know the extent of the damage.

That’s the word from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which studied reports on the corrosion dating back to 1984.

The culprit seems to be moisture leaking into the Gateway Arch – a sophisticated engineering feat made up of stacked triangular sections of carbon steel, concrete and stainless steel.

The big question is whether the streaks of rust and other discoloration, which can be seen on the upper portions of the outside of the arch, are merely cosmetic or more severe.

Let’s remember that this monument is not just pretty to look at — people ride up to the top of the Arch in a vertical tram system.

National Park Service officials insist that there is no safety issue at the Arch, for now. The agency has just funded a study to determine whether the 45-year-old arch just needs a cleaning, or whether a full-blown restoration will be required.

[Image credit: Flickr user chutme]

Photo of the Day (8.19.10)

“Clang, clang, clang went the trolley,” sang Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis, giving the most charming mode of transportation its own theme song. Except this trolley isn’t in St. Louis or even San Francisco, it’s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, part of the oldest operating tram system in South America. Whether you call it a tram, a trolley, a streetcar, or a cable car, this Flickr photo by AlexSven captures the old-timey fun (also, suspenders are the most charming way to hold up pants). Nowadays, trolleys are making a comeback, with new or extended routes planned for many cities in the United States including St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and Little Rock. Kennebunkport, Maine is even home to a trolley museum.

Find a fun way to get around on your travels? Upload your pix to the Gadling Flickr pool and it might be featured as a future Photo of the Day.

Hidden Treasures: Ted Drewes Concrete Ice Cream in St. Louis

If you live in St. Louis, you know all about Ted Drewes. However, if you are just passing through, it’s worth a trip out of your way to stop and enjoy a Custard Concrete. Once you pay your first visit, you will never forget it.

Not only a hometown favorite, Ted Drewes is also known in the celeb-circuit. Elvis Presley use to fly into St. Louis just to stop in and today has a special custard concrete named after him, called the “All Shook Up.”

Ted Drewes has been in business since the South Grand store opened in 1931, by Ted’s father Ted Sr. The Chippewa store was added in 1941, on the old route 66 highway. To this day, both locations serve thousands of customers each year. It is a great way to cool off on those hot St. Louis summers.

Ted Drewes has two locations in St. Louis: 4224 South Grand Ave and 6726 Chippewa.

Carl Benjamin is a contributor.

Grant’s Farm in St. Louis may become the next national park

The Busch family, of Anheuser-Busch fame, is considering transferring their 273-acre animal preserve, Grant’s Farm, to the National Park Service.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the National Park Service has completed a reconnaisance study of the property, which is the initial step in considering a new park site.

The Busch family has owned the St. Louis farm, once the property of President Ulysses S. Grant, for more than a century. It has been operated as a free family attraction for 55 years. It is visited by more than 500,000 people each year.

Grant’s Farm features a French Revival mansion, known as the “Big House,” two former Grant residences (including Hardscrabble Cabin, shown in the photo above), and is home to 900 animals.

The property is adjacent to a site already operated by the National Park Service – the Ulysses S. Grant Historic Site. The report showed that it has national historic significance, both because it used to be owned by Grant and because of the Busch family’s history and influence in American business.

The report is the first step in determining a National Park Service site. Congress ultimately has to decide whether or not to create a new national park.

[Photo credit: Flickr user mhowry]

Top Fourth of July fireworks spots across the US

Here are ten of the biggest and best (as well as some smaller and more regionally or otherwise distinctive) fireworks displays to anticipate this Fourth of July across the United States. And even if you can’t be in ten places across a continent in a single day (you can’t? weird!) these spots might just provide a good reference list for your next decade of Fourth of July vacation planning.

1. South Lake Tahoe, California.

The largest synchronized fireworks display west of the Mississippi will kick off on the southern end of South Lake Tahoe, starting around 9:45 pm. Lake Tahoe provides a mesmerizing surface for reflected pyrotechnics.

2. Seward, Alaska.

Seward, south of Anchorage, is flooded with tourists on July 4. The town’s festivities get off to an early start with Seward’s waterfront fireworks, which begin at 12:01 am on the morning of July 4.

3. Washington, DC.

A display over the Washington Monument is one of the country’s most distinctive. Fireworks are set off from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool after 9:00 pm.

4. New York City, New York.

The Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show, set along the Hudson River, will kick off at 9 pm with Justin Bieber tasked with the job of getting the patriotism flowing. (How’s that for Canadian-American cross-border good will?) This year’s display is graced with a score titled “American Harmony,” performed by the New York Pops and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

5. Amarillo, Texas.

The largest fireworks display in the Texas panhandle gets started at 9:30 pm at John Stiff Memorial Park. 10,000 people are expected this year.

6. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Jordan Park, on the arty west side of Salt Lake City, hosts a 10 pm fireworks display.

7. Ala Moana Center, Honolulu, Hawaii.

Hawaii’s biggest fireworks display kicks off at 8:30 pm at the Ala Moana Center shopping mall in Honolulu, following several hours of musical entertainment.

8. Tacoma, Washington.

Tacoma’s fireworks will get going at 10 pm on the city’s Commencement Bay, the grand finale of Tacoma’s annual Freedom Fair. The bay provides a glorious expanse for the fireworks display.

9. St. Louis, Missouri.

At 9:15 pm, a fireworks display will close out 2010’s Fair Saint Louis at Gateway Arch. The St. Louis display is regarded to be one of the best in the country by hardcore fireworks fans.

10. New Orleans. Louisiana.

The Big Easy’s Dueling Barges Fireworks Extravaganza makes for an especially vibrant and exciting fireworks display.

Don’t see your city listed? More great destinations

[Image: Flickr/Clearly Ambiguous]