Kimmswick

Population (2010)

157

Introduction

Kimmswick is a compact old river town, popular with shoppers looking for unique items and for tasty treats. Most people visit Kimmswick as a day trip. If you want to stay overnight in the area, there are chain motels nearby, or you can stay in St. Louis, which is about 30 minutes away.

Visitor Information

Visitors can load up on information from the local tourism office, Visit Kimmswick.

History

Evidence of human cultures in this area goes back at least twelve thousand years, when Clovis-era people hunted mastodons and other creatures. Later American Indians processed salt from the mineral springs around the Mississippi River and Little Rock Creek.

In 1850, Theodore Kimm, a well-off merchant from St. Louis, moved to the area. When the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Railroad was completed in 1858, Kimm saw an opportunity and platted the village the next year.

In less than ten years, the village attracted middle-class St. Louisans, most of them German immigrants, who opened stores, a brewery, mills, a copper shop, and greenhouses that sent fresh flowers up to St. Louis. The town eventually grew to include 1,500 residents. Kimm retired from town building in 1872 when he was sixty-one years old, and he and his wife traveled extensively, taking multiple trips to Europe.

In 1880, Montesano Springs Park opened and quickly became a popular destination for its mineral springs, dance pavilion, merry-go-round, tent shows, and other diversions. Visitors arrived by steamboat and train. It closed in 1918.

Kimmswick was a popular stop on the showboat circuit but as cars replaced steamboats and trains, retail moved to the highways and away from Kimmswick. As old buildings in town fell into disrepair, Lucianna Gladney-Ross used her wealth and influence (her father, Frank Gladney, was one of the founders of 7Up) to shepherd a movement to preserve what was left. In 1970, she began a determined and ultimately successful effort to buy and restore buildings in town.

Kimmswick survived a close call in 1993 when record flooding nearly inundated the town. The village stayed dry thanks to the work of thousands of volunteers and the National Guard who built a temporary levee to hold back the river.

In 2016, the new owners of the Delta Queen steamboat moved their corporate office to town. They hope to restore the 90-year-old steamboat and get it back on the Mississippi River for overnight cruising.

Kimmswick today retains its small town feel even as it has become surrounded by miles and miles of subdivisions.

Exploring the Area

As you walk around, check out the historic buildings, some of which were moved to Kimmswick. Besides the Old House, there’s the blacksmith shop (1847), the old winery (1859) and the Barbagallo House (1850).

The Kimmswick Historical Society (6000 3rd Ave.; 636.464.8687) maintains several displays on the town’s history. The most impressive object in their collection is an old watchmaker’s cabinet, whose drawers are still filled with all the objects needed to build or repair a watch.

Tour the riverside estate of Mabel-Ruth and Fred Anheuser (6000 Windsor Harbor Ln.), descendants of St. Louis beer royalty. The century-old home overlooks the Mississippi River and is filled with family heirlooms and antiques. Guided tours run on Thursdays from noon to 4pm from April through November.

Just a few miles northwest of Kimmswick, Mastodon State Historic Site (1050 Charles J. Becker Dr.; 636.464.2976) traces the history of the large beasts that once roamed the area. Excavations from a nearby quarry provided the first solid evidence that humans co-existed with and hunted mastodons twelve thousand years ago.

Entertainment and Events

Kimmswick hosts a couple of fun food-themed festivals.

In June (the first weekend), indulge your fruity passions at the Strawberry Festival. You’ll find strawberries used in many creative ways, plus a few art and craft vendors.

Come back the last weekend in October for the uber-popular Apple Butter Festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors to the small town, where you can stock up on homemade apple butter, shop the rows of vendor booths, and enjoy live music. The town’s narrow streets are completely closed to auto traffic for the weekend. While you can park along Highway K near town, your best bet is to park at Windsor School just off Highway 61/67 (Imperial: 933 Windsor Harbor Rd.) and take a shuttle into town.

**Kimmswick is covered in Road Tripping Along the Great River Road, Vol. 1 and Small Town Pleasures. Click the links above for more. Disclosure: This website may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to.

Where to Eat and Drink

The Blue Owl Inn (6116 2nd St.; 636.464.3128) has been pleasing diners since 1985, especially with their pastries and pie; they are open for lunch only.

Where to Go Next

Heading upriver? Check out Imperial.

Heading downriver? Check out Barnhart.

Community-supported writing

If you like the content at the Mississippi Valley Traveler, please consider showing your support by making a one-time contribution or by subscribing through Patreon. Book sales don’t fully cover my costs, and I don’t have deep corporate pockets bankrolling my work. I’m a freelance writer bringing you stories about life along the Mississippi River. I need your help to keep this going. Every dollar you contribute makes it possible for me to continue sharing stories about America’s Greatest River!

Become a Patron

Kimmswick Photographs

©Dean Klinkenberg, 2018

By |2018-12-07T21:07:48+00:00August 27th, 2018|Missouri|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dean Klinkenberg, the Mississippi Valley Traveler, is on a mission to explore the rich history, diverse cultures, and varied ecosystems of the Mississippi River Valley, from the Headwaters in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. He is the author of Rock Island Lines, a mystery, and several guidebooks for the Mississippi Valley.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Ah, geez. Another pop-up? Yep! But if you sign up for updates, I’ll send you a free, full-color PDF of Small Town Pleasures, your guide to the most interesting small Mississippi River towns. You’ll save five bucks!

This is a limited time offer, so sign up today.

We value your privacy and will never spam you. You will receive updates about new books and offers, site updates, and news from the Mississippi Valley. You can unsubscribe whenever you want.