Monday, January 23, 2017

Don Robinson State Park: First Look

Click on the above photo to see the full horizontal view

Don Robinson, childless bachelor, made a fortune with spot remover and ended up owning 818 acres in northern Jefferson County, MO that before his death in 2012 he gave to the State of Missouri for a new state park that opened at last on January 6, 2017. One of its two hiking loops is 2.4 miles, partly paved, and the other more than 4 miles; the latter isn't open yet. His unusual, hand-built hilltop house (part stone cottage that was already there, part particle board, old boards, old glass, or anything he could recycle) is preserved for a future Don Robinson museum.

Raw-looking orange and red sandstone cuts are the first thing you'll see as you enter from the Byrnesville Road. A steep short asphalt loop leads to Robinson's house, with an Ozark foothills view as far as you can see. A huge concrete terrace was poured to its south and furnished with a shelter, picnic tables, and rocking chairs. It'll be a spectacular view in every season. Some old stone stairs have been preserved, along with the old bench in the photo, the only ornate thing there. Robinson's grave (he was born in 1927) is not far from the house and on a new bench nearby you can sit and say a long thanks that his land did not become a subdivision.

Originally it was said there'd be a campground but there isn't. The property abuts some of the LaBarque Creek-area conservation sites and natural areas. Special features include lots of chinkapin oaks and birds, and hardly any cedars (unlike the formerly cedar-choked Glassberg Conservation Area). Eight hundred eighteen more acres for the people of Missouri and guests. Most of the land is accessible only on foot. I was there late in the day and caught a few rays of sunshine, scarce these last two weeks in January. The land will be fun to explore.

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