Mad in Pursuit Notebook

detail 1909 map, Castlewood, Missouri

Historic Castlewood, Missouri: General Memories

These have been emailed to me by many folks over the years.

:: Memory. One of the great events was the election of a Mayor for Castlewood, some time between 1942 and 1944. It was, of course, not for real but it gave the community a lot of fun during the course of campaigning. We were campaigning for the Swish Swish Party against the Socko Party. The Swish Swish Party won the election. After the acceptance speech on the steps of the Crossroads Inn (also known as Nig's for Nig McDaniel), there was a parade and they all traveled up to the All Inn clubhouse for the great victory party where everyone brought cases of beer, etc. Well, you never saw so many cars and so many people -- no more cars could come up the hill to our place, so they just stopped on the road. There were barrels of beer rolled up the hill and the party lasted and lasted until one of the fun-lovers left one of my mother's canaries out of the cage, saying that it needed to be free. Things cooled down after that. I was young at that time and couldn't understand how a person could down so many beers, but I still had fun watching all the merriment. [Kathleen Price]

:: Memory. My grandfather once owned a cabin on Sontag road directly across from the swimming pool. He would take a train from the city and spend summer nights at the cabin because it was much cooler than in the city. My mother and her 3 brothers spent their summers there. Her brothers were on the river patrol. They would sit in canoes and watch the swimmers at Lincoln beach and make bets on who would be the next drowning victim for them to rescue. [Kevin McK, 2009]

:: Memory. ...Another great memory was we could walk all over Castlewood. My brother and me and would stop at Hrin's [Crossroads]for a "chocolate soda" and then go to the creek by Bill Breit's place and catch crawfish...

Another great memory I have is that is where I learned to drive a car...My grandfather would let me drive his car to go down to Dickerson's when they would run out of beer or ice..(I was only 14 or `15 at the time) Oh my what every happen to the good ole days!!!!!!!! You never worried about some weirdo coming up to you ...not like today you would never let your kids walk around the roads now. [Barbara Holland, 2009]

:: Memory. I'm sure you have great memories of hearing the trains and their lonesome whistles from the rail road tracks. It was amazing how sound could travel so far in Castlewood. We could even hear the stockcars from Lakehill Speedway in Valley Park on Sunday evenings from our house. I loved the sounds of whiporwills, quails, hawks, owls, squirrels and a million lightning bugs on the Holland property, out in the field in front of the house on the hill. [Chuck Simpson, 2009]

:: Memory. To give you an idea where I grew up... if you continued walking up the road where Castlewood Pool was (Sontag Road), you would have to walk about a half mile before coming to a cluster of clubhouses (14) at the end of the road. My father bought one of those clubhouses [a tiny house with a sun porch, 2 bedrooms, living room, in-door bathroom, and a kitchen & utlility room on the back]. My parents raised 7 children in that house!

Behind our neighborhood was the 80 acre Sontag farm. Our neighborhood began with a few "weekender" families, which included 1 bachelor, and 3 sets of couples. The remaining homes were bought up by families who lived there all year round. I'll have to tell you about Mr Simpkins, the bachelor next door, sometime. We also had Walter Vespy, the character of the neighborhood, who told my Dad about our house.I have tons of Walter Vespy stories from which to choose. I swam very little in the Meramec (mostly in Castlewood pool), but fished down below the train tressel, where the creek you walked in emptied into the river. I had an experience on the tracks very similar to the scene in "Stand By Me" involving that tressel...

:: Nig McDaniel is included in a group photo found in the "History of Ballwin" Book. He is credited with owning a tavern in Castlewood. I would love to have you recall meeting your husband at the Crossroads Inn in Castlewood. [Chuck Simpson, email to Kathleen Price, 2009]

:: Memory. My son just sent me your site about Castlewood. My family had a club across the river. We would spend the summers there every year. I guess my parents bought the club around 1947. I am 66 years old and we got it when I was 5. My parents would tell us stories of taking the train out to the river on week-ends and stay in the clubs on the Castlewood side. We were on the Rankin Estates. We owned the club but the land belonged to a estate in Ireland and could not be sold. We owned the club till the state took it.

I have so many memories of the Clubhouse and the river. Our club was across the river from the steps and the water tower where the trains stopped. There was a little island in the river back then. We were right by the island. We had a wonderful beach. Our property went right to the beach. We would take the boat across the river all the time. I remember writing my name in the tunnel under the tracks. We would walk down to Lincoln beach. We swam in the river all the time. We had fun yelling back and forth to some people across the river up on the cliff. One man would always yell to get out of his river because he was going to pull the plug. When the river flooded we would drive to Castlewood the look down from the cliffs to see if water got into our club. Our club was right behind Lone Elk Park. I forwarded the site to my brother Bill. I'm sure you will be hearing from him. We have lots of pictures from the club and the beaches. I am sure I remember seeing your clubhouse. On Friday and Sat. nights we could hear the cars at the race track in Valley Park. The sound would carry forever along the river in that valley. You have brought back so many memories. [Karen Rogers Vehlewald, 2008]

:: Memory. I just stumbled across the Castlewood History... What a memory jogger. I too spent what now seems to me to have been many a glorious day in that very same area. 1945 to 1950? The area that I was most familiar with is the 'Fern Glen' area (I think). I too remember walking with my mother down to Lincoln Lodge and passed what was left of the old canoe barns. We would go under the RR track via the short tunnel. Right before the tunnel and on the right was a Bar/Restaurant, and I think the name was Hall's. Immediately across the road from Hall's was an old abandoned 1930 style service station. Where many a bottle cap game was contested. Just along that same side was a row of duplex type cabins (maybe 10) built on ground that was higher than the service station.

I also remember going to the swimming pool in Castlewood. The family that owned it was either very good friends of my family or perhaps related in some fashion. The years have dimmed that connection.

My Grandmother had a Sister that owned a small cabin or house almost at the top of the road that leads from Castlewood up to the cliffs that looked over the Lodge, the River and out to the South. We had to pass (on the right) an old wooded school/church [St Elizabeth's -sbp]. I believe that building remained there for years. And I think that across the road from that building may have been one of the Private Clubs you mentioned. Maybe it was the Bob-o-Links [probably Lone Wolf -sbp].

Your description of the 10-cent ferry ride and of people trying to wade or swim across the river was also very interesting. Per my mother, there were some that never made-it, and I think that my father was one of the original members of the Meramec River Rescue. [Jack Wiley, 2008]

:: Memory. I lived ... directly above the "grand staircase", opposite the cliffs, on Eastmont, part of Castlewood Camp Subdivision, from 1974-2003 when I sold the property to my daughter. She's still there. The stairs are there, just not very grand anymore. You can barely see the foundation of the old hotel at the bottom. The tunnel heading over to the river is still there. But you really have to know what you're looking for or you wouldn't notice any of it anymore. I remember when there wasn't a lot in Castlewood but old club houses with the dark brown skinny clapboard siding. I grew up in Ballwin, but fell in love with Castlewood from the first time I went down there at age 15 and married a local boy. I was there when the old Lincoln Lodge burned to the ground in 1972. Actually the fire was started by some local "volunteer firemen" who got $2 for responding to a fire and wanted the money to party with. Thanks for the cool website, and the info. [Jan...Marathon FL, email to SBP]

:: Memory. Dickinson's (aka "Dickersons") on New Ballwin Rd near Keifer Creek Rd. Tavern, groceries, ice house. "Mr. Dickinson was my father. He passed away in 1993. We also have good memories of castlewood. I use to go down to the old hotel where all the steps are quite often. I helped dad with the water system in castlewood years ago. Our pump house was down on the Meremac river. To get to it we had to go down the steps." [Joan Dickinson Willard to SBP]

:: Memory. [to SBP, 2006] My name is Randy... I was born in Ballwin or Des Pere in 1955... My mother was Virginia Lee Niere (Jordan, Joyce, DeRousse). When I was about or so as I remember, my mom ran what I remember her calling it the 'castlebar'...

It was just down from the volunteer fire dept and pool, as I remember it. This would have been, 1965 or so I think. We had a barbeque grill that ran on saturdays. I remember we had a sign out front for Stag beer. I remember stag beer. I want to say the bar was on new ballwin rd, but it might have been Keifer creek.

For a while, maybe in 60 or 61, my mom and I lived in Castlewood in a group of apts not far from the Lone Wolf (who I remember paying me once when I told him his cows were out.) I remember the speak-easy vaguely. I think my mom and he were friends. There was a basset hound named Cleo at the appts. the picture of the hillside clubhouse on your site looks familiar...

When we had the bar, we lived in a house on one of the west side streets going up the hill. It was blacktop as I remember, because I had one of the first generation skateboards.

I remember the pool and the strong chlorine/ice cold water. My half brother John J. was a lifeguard there for a while, I believe. My mom had go-go girls dancing at the bar some weekends, and sometimes they stayed at the hillside cabin we lived in. It had walls panelled in knotty pine, as I remember, and a finished basement.

:: Memory. [to SBP, 2007] I grew up on East Hill Dr. We moved there about 1969-1970. (before that we lived on Sontag rd.) We bought the house from Eddie Pahl, who I remember as a mean man. We lived at 613, the second house on the right. My brother still lives there. It was fun reading your memories of my beloved Castlewood. I also went up to the cliffs, climbed down to the cave, walked down all those steps (which are still there, but blocked off), learned to swim at Castlewood pool. Eddie Pahl's hill was the best sledding hill ever and a lot of fun to summersault down in the summer. I remember the church there, although it was long abandoned when we lived there. We snuck into it once. I used to play in Kiefer creek and catch crawdads. It was a great place to grow up in. Thank you for the memories. [Patty B.]

:: Memory. [to SBP, 2007] Thank you so much for posting your memories of Castlewood. I am a history lover and could stare at maps for hours on end. I moved to Cedar Ridge Dr. in 08/2005 and was immediately enthralled with the remains of the Lone Wolf down the street. I could tell this place had so much history just from a hike through the park seeing old foundations and staircases. I couldn't get enough and couldn't find anything about the Prohibition Era or any other era at the library. I talked to a neighbor who has lived here since the 70's and heard a few stories from other neighbors.

It seem like there is no recorded history of this place. I am so enchanted by the history of Castlewood and crave more. If you know of any books or know of anywhere I can get more information I would really appreciate it. Thanks so much. [Mary H]

:: Memory. [To SBP, 2007] My name is Kathleen & just thought U might like to know that we shared Club 44 with some other families, across from the Castlewood Pool on Sontag rd. I was 6 or 7 years old when my Father & Mother then purchased or rented, I think the 1st clubhouse behind the Dickinson's Grocery store... My father died in 1953 & I never returned until I was an adult. My family remember's everything very well. I'm wondering if U knew a family by the name of Hanson, as they had twin sons, Bob & John Hanson. I am pretty sure that they lived in Castlewood, but do not remember where? Kiefer Creek, ran in back of our clubhouse. The front of our clubhouse was I think the Dickinson's fenced acres for their horses, but not sure? A friend of mine Paul Barker bought a home in Castlewood about 20 years ago, but has then since passed away. We do have stories about the many days we spent at the Pool & I definitely remember the salt water.

[later to SBP] Here are a few other things I remember about the Pool. I think the man who owned it was a lawyer, but I'm not sure? The first time I heard "How High the Moon" by Les Paul & Mary Ford was @ the Pool, & to this day when I hear any version of that song, or smell Coppertone suntan oil it takes me straight back to Castlewood. I was about 7 or 8 & am wondering how old U were? If we are around the same age we were probably @ the pool @ the same time... My age is 64 this July. I'm jumping around here as thoughts are coming faster than I can put them in order. The inside of the bar & restaurant area of the pool, was an all deck wood floor, like we have on outside decks.

:: Memory. [To SBP 2007] My dad was in the Army and worked downtown STL. We moved to Castlewood in summer of 1954 so I could start High School. He would take the train at the station at the end of Keiffer creek Road. we lived on the top of the hill in a 2 bedroom cabin overlooking Lincoln Beach . You could jump from the bluff down to the railroad tracks. I went to high school at Eureka high and was a lifeguard at the pool for summer of 54 /55/56. I used to date one of the Dickinson daughters (Jo Ann) and her sister Veronica would let me ride one of the horses.

It was a great place back then. I found Johnny Campbell several years ago. He lived at the end of the road that went by the pool and we went to high school together. At the beginning of that round lived Denzil Hawes-Daviswho had a big Macaw parrot they would keep under the tree in the yard.
[Glenn ( Jim ) Harris, Marietta Ga.]

:: Memory. [To SBP 2007] I happened upon your site while looking for any info I could find on the Lone Wolf Ranch in Castlewood, MO.

I was working in the Ballwin area today and hadn't been down in to Castlewood in quite a few years. On my lunch hour I drove down to where the Lone Wolf once was, it was, to say the least, an overwhelming experience. My Grandmother was Cleta Buela Alley, better known as "Sally" who lived with Eddie Pahl and (from my understanding) helped run the Lone Wolf. Sally's son was my father, William Alley, who married my mother, Rosemary Sedlmayr, who's father owned Lincoln Lodge. I was born in 1963 and have some memories of Lincoln Lodge but have many many memories of the Lone Wolf. I would really like to know as much about the history of the Lone Wolf as possible. As a child, it was a magical place and had the feeling of having some amazing stories within it's walls. I got that feeling again today.

[later email] My memories of the Lone Wolf were way after it being a hot entertainment spot. By the time my parents took me there it was a very private club that Eddie and my Grandmother only opened up to certain friends and family and they lived in the house behind the old club. After my Grandmother died, Eddie lived there alone until his death where my father helped out with trying to maintain the property. [Lisa M. Alley]

For more great memories, visit


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