The St. Joseph Parkway: One of a Kind

October 4, 2013 6:00 am

Parkway 1Thank you, George Bode, Jr., for fostering inspiration in recreation and providing the finances to support one of the most incredible parkway systems in the country. Runners, walkers, bikers, swimmers, ice skaters, golfers, baseball fans, nature lovers, tennis players, and any others who enjoy keeping fit and enjoying outdoor beauty owe their thanks to Mr. Bode. Also those who prefer slow Sunday drives under a canopy of colorful autumn leaves or who prefer to spend a relaxing day with the family enjoying a picnic near the playground, can enjoy the Parkway as well.

The St. Joseph Parkway system weaves for 26 miles between the north and south ends of St. Joseph, creating a connection between beautiful parks, ball fields, and sport facilities accessed either by car, paved walking trail, or a rugged bike path through the woods. First designed in 1918 by architect George Burnham, it keeps growing with the financial help from George Bode, who was born in St. Joseph in 1868. When Bode died in 1955, he left the citizens of the city over $3 million dollars to use specifically for anything pertaining to recreation. His money has been put to good use.

The north end anchor of the parkway is 162-acre KrugPark where you’ll find enthusiastic children hurtling chunks of bread to the geese and ducks that swim in the large pond or playing on one of the parks two playgrounds. Others stroll through the rose garden, trek through the wooded trails in search of the little waterfall, or get a close-up view of the park’s longhorn cattle and bison; animals that shaped Missouri’s early history.

The South end of the parkway is anchored by 93-acre Hyde Park where families enjoy a tree-shaded playground, a swim in the pool, or a game on the baseball, basketball, or tennis courts; teens especially like the in-line skate park. In winter, hundreds of cars snake through HolidayPark in KrugPark and the South Pole in Hyde Park.

Because the parkway weaves directly through neighborhoods, it is very accessible. For some lucky citizens, their backyard is the parkway. A walk across their lawn and they are transported to a paved trail that winds through towering trees and alongside pretty peaceful ponds. Many neighborhood families can take short stroller rides on the wide sidewalks to one of the many playgrounds that dot the parkway. Runners can avoid traffic and noise and escape on the miles of shaded trails.

Like the nature that defines its boundaries, the St. Joseph Parkway system grows and flourishes each year with new walkways, bike trails, and recreation facilities. Facilities like the St. JosephRecreationCenter, Bode Ice Arena, and St. JosephAquaticPark are located just a step off the parkway’s walkway.

The state-of-the-art St. Joseph REC Center was built in the last few years directly next to the Phil Welch Stadium, which was built in 1939. Baseball greats like Mickey Mantle and Stan Musial kicked the dusty infield where the St. Joseph Mustangs currently play. History is rich along the parkway (it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995), but its history keeps growing. Nature never dulls and new and updated recreation facilities only add to the luster of the parkway. In either dappled sunlight along the paved walking trails or driving under the snow-laced branches of winter, voyages through the parkway are much to be appreciated by the citizens of St. Joseph. Thank you, Mr. Bode.

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