Apr 26, 2012 - MIssouri, Travel, USA    6 Comments

The St Louis Gateway Arch

The St Louis Gateway Arch was built in the early 1960s to symbolize America’s westward expansion. In the 19th century, St Louis was the last big city before the unexplored western frontier and was soon established as a railway hub. The Arch is a weighted or flattened catenary arch that measures 630ft.

My first reaction upon seen it was vertigo. I thought, “There’s no way in hell I’m going up that thing!”

As it turns out, the tram to the top is completely enclosed, so the ride up and down in a cramped car is not terrifying in the least. At the top, there are narrow windows through which you can view the Mississippi River and the city, but it’s almost impossible to look straight down. So folks with a fear of heights shouldn’t be worried about going to the top of the Arch.

To tour the Arch, you have to enter below it. There is an airport-style security checkpoint (I got through without incident). You then buy your ticket ($7 today even though it says $10 on the website) and are told when to line up. They are very strict about being at the gate on time and not a second before. You are assigned at tram car, then hustled up to the tram doors.

The trams sit five and are very small. It’s a four minute climb to the top and you can spend as long up there as you want. When you are ready to come down, you are assigned a tram number. The ride down takes three minutes. I somehow managed to reveal myself as a full-time RVer on both trips and was even asked my blog address. If any of my fellow tram car passengers are reading this, please let me know in the comments! 🙂

The Arch tours are well organized, but the Arch was not constructed for the amount of visitors today. I was on the 9:25 tram and the ones after that had way too many people.

There was one more stop to make in the base of the Arch, but first I decided to take a coffee break. I’d run out of milk this morning, so I hadn’t had coffee. I decided to check out the general store that promised hot beverages. $2 got me a cup of truly excellent coffee made of beans roasted 19th century style. It made me glad I’d run out of milk or I wouldn’t have tried it. It tasted almost like what comes out of my French press and most definitely not like typical brewed coffee. So I’d recommend coming to the Arch first thing to avoid the crowds and then enjoy a coffee before continuing with your day.

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  • Was the wind blowing? It is so cool to be in the top of the Arch as it sways back and forth in the wind.

  • OMG, no! Thank goodness! 🙂

  • I lived in the small town of Shilo Illinois while the arch was being built. On clear days while cresting the hill between Shiloh and O’Fallon you could look west and see the arch being built. The day they put in the Keystone was pretty important to my 15 year old self.

  • Caroline, what an incredible recollection!

  • My husband and I went up in the Arch in 2006 while on vacation. Unfortunately it was an overcast day and we couldn’t see far into Illinois like I had wanted to. Glad you enjoyed your visit to the Arch.

  • I was fortunate to be blessed by good weather!

    I very much enjoyed my visit to the Arch! Driving past it this morning, I couldn’t help but marvel that I’d been to the top of that thing!

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