MISSISSIPPI AND MISSOURI RIVER CONFLUENCE
MISSISSIPPI AND MISSOURI RIVER CONFLUENCE

We started making work in our home of St. Louis, home of the meeting of America's two greatest rivers.

SWAMP
SWAMP

Chouteau Island, Madison County, Illinois - January 2016
N38.760794 W90.147436
Chouteau Island is the northern part of the land between the Chain of Rocks Canal and the wild stretch of the Mississippi River that separates Missouri from Illinois. You can see this agricultural and conservation area by looking down at the eastern end of the highway 270 bridge.  More info

PINK
PINK

St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, Ferguson, Missouri—January 2016

38°45'56.52"N 90°17'28.96"W

The Pink cairn rests in the snow at the edge of the creek in the western part of the St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley campus.

 

FLOWer RAIN GARDEN
FLOWer RAIN GARDEN

14th Street Between Monroe and Clinton Streets, St. Louis, Missouri—September 2015

38°38'48.61"N 90°11'42.76"W

The FLOWer cairn poses on the rocky bed of the Old North Rain Garden that was installed in Summer 2013. The purpose of a rain garden is to slow down stormwater before it gets to Metropolitan Sewer District’s underground pipes.

PARK BRIDGE 1
PARK BRIDGE 1

North 40th Street and Morris Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois—6 a.m., July 4, 2015

38°38'20.07"N 90° 6'31.29"W

 This Metro East neighborhood of small to midsized homes is located near the Jackie Joiner-Kersey Youth Center, Jones Park, and the JJK Center MetroLink station. This photograph looks east in the very early morning as fog rises from a stream, flowing in the center of a long, freshly mowed park. A forest of trees separates this area from the railroad tracks to the north. 

PARK BRIDGE 2
PARK BRIDGE 2

North 36th Street and Morris Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois—7 a.m., July 4, 2015

38°38'18.08"N 90° 6'43.74"W 

The Park Bridge Cairn is assembled from an odd collection of glass objects balanced on one of several bridges crossing the storm drainage channel that was once the meandering Schoenberger Creek.

TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE
TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE

Earl Widman County Park , 7730 Telegraph Rd. , St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2015

38° 25' 27.408"N 90° 20' 40.581"

The Tethys cairn that has been photographed following the water from the Courtois and Huzzah and into the Meramec is shown here 55 feet east of the bank of the Meramec at the southern edge of St. Louis County. This area was used as Widman County Park until repeated flooding (most recently in 2008, 2009 and 2010) made its maintenance too frequent and expensive.  

TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE 2
TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE 2

Earl Widman County Park , 7730 Telegraph Rd. , St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2015

38° 25' 27.408"N 90° 20' 40.581"

The Tethys cairn is photographed in the water at Earl Widman Park. This area was a farm field, then became a rock quarry.  Beginning in 1993, floodwater filled the quarry, creating this pond. Trash like the yellow lawn hose seen around the base of Tethys was washed into the water in the subsequent, frequent floods. 

HORSESHOE LAKE
HORSESHOE LAKE

Layton Road, Madison County, Illinois—April 2015

38° 40' 55.9992"N 90° 6' 33.9978

Horseshoe Lake is the second largest natural lake in the State of Illinois. Formed centuries ago after a flood when the Mississippi River found a new channel across the bottomland and left this oxbow-shape lake to fend for itself.

BUBBLE 1
BUBBLE 1

Highway #3 Construction, Packer Avenue near St. Clair Avenue, National City, Illinois—May 2015

N38.64388 W090.16333

Looking west to the Gateway National Expansion Memorial, the Arch, This Bubble cairn rests in a ditch next to Highway #3 construction. The highway is being revamped and re-ramped to connect with the recently completed Stan Musial Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.

 

FAIR GROUND
FAIR GROUND

Fairground Park, St. Louis City, Missouri—October 2014

38° 40' 6.099"N 90° 13' 28.959"W

The Fair Ground cairn is placed between a trash and recycling bin behind a one-story pink building on the northwest corner of Fairground Park.  The park’s rich, but largely forgotten, history illustrates how social, economic, and political conditions influence the watershed.

STILL BLUE – STREAM
STILL BLUE – STREAM

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

In his 1963 report Some Unusual Natural Areas in Illinois and a Few of Their Plants, Robert A. Evers addressed Devil’s Prop.   He wrote, “At one place the small stream flows through a narrow, V-shaped ravine. In some places, the sandstone of the steep sides is exposed and in other places covered with a thin layer of soil."

STILL BLUE – ICE CAVE
STILL BLUE – ICE CAVE

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

Still Blue’s title was suggested by the tranquility of this rocky, wooded, and moss-covered natural area.  The stillness was broken only by the sound of melting water as it gurgled into the ground beneath the frozen waterfalls. Occasionally, one of those massive icicles broke free from the rocky cliff and crashed, rumbling the ground under our feet.

STILL BLUE – PROP
STILL BLUE – PROP

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

The Still Blue cairn rests under the arm of the rock formation that gives Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve its name. The rock is unusual, but the entire ecosystem of bluff, stream, trees, and plants is a rare chance to see what the region was like before so much land was cleared for agriculture.

MIDAS
MIDAS

Wild Rose Farm, North Copple Lane, Dix, Illinois—October 2014

Private Property

In ancient mythology, Midas is given the power to turn everything he touches into gold, which makes him a very rich man.  However, when he kisses his beloved daughter, she too turns into the cold, hard, valuable metal.  This cairn uses the Midas story as a cautionary tale. 

STALAGMITE
STALAGMITE

Veterans Memorial Park, Forest Ave., Mt. Vernon, Illinois— December 2014

38° 18' 17.0598"N 88° 55' 24.7506"W

A stalagmite is a natural stone tower built of minerals deposited by slowly dripping water on the floor of a cave. Here, more than 20 “stalagmite” cairns stand in a spillway, that looks like a shallow, manmade cave.

TRIBUTARY QUARRY
TRIBUTARY QUARRY

Cliff Cave Road, St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2014

N38.467794 W090.286933

The Tributary cairn overlooks the Bussen Quarry where limestone is mined. You can see the Jefferson Barracks Bridge and the Mississippi River in the distance, behind the 600-acre quarry site.

 TETHYS MERAMEC STUMP
TETHYS MERAMEC STUMP

Meramec River, Leasburg, Missouri—August 2014

N38.056089 W091.230208

Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, rests on a stump where a small stream enters the river. A group of people-shy ducks were swimming nearby but refused to paddle into the photograph even when we tossed granola into the water.

TETHYS COURTOIS
TETHYS COURTOIS

Courtois Creek, Leasburg, Missouri—August 2014

N38.029614 W091.221042

The Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, is balanced on a “raft” of sticks caught by an island that is not much bigger than the beverage coolers in the passing canoes.

TETHYS ROUTE 66 BRIDGE
TETHYS ROUTE 66 BRIDGE

Meramec River at Route 66 State Park, 97 Outer Road East, No.1, Eureka, Missouri—August 2014

38° 30' 18.2694N 90° 35' 29.5002"W

Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, sits on a concrete foundation, all that remains of an early bridge, and in front of a more recently decommissioned Route 66 highway bridge.

 

FLOWer SEWER
FLOWer SEWER

Sewer south of Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri—April 2014

38° 37' 20.9784"N 90° 16' 17.5074"W

The blue and green glass FLOWer cairn sits in 6–12 inches of mostly rainwater on the curved floor of a 30-foot-diameter concrete tunnel. At intervals, grates in the bottom of the tunnel drain some of this ground water into the wastewater flowing in the sanitary sewers, below.

RIVR WATR
RIVR WATR

YMCA, 600 Loughborough Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri—June 2014

N38.555256 W090.257417

Resting in an empty swimming pool at the historic Carondelet YMCA, a red- and clear-glass cairn supports a repurposed EXIT lamp on the top. The word EXIT has been replaced with the letters RIVR to remind us that the water we use in our homes, businesses, and swimming pools comes from the river and will return to the river. 

THE ICE STOPPED HERE
THE ICE STOPPED HERE

Mill Creek Natural Area (near Piney Creek), Randolph County, Illinois—November 2013

37° 53' 42.6726"N 89° 39' 11.7066"W

This cairn marks a special place at the edge of the ancient glacier’s reach in Randolph County. Here, the sandstone canyons and gorges create a cool microclimate where club moss, cinnamon fern, and bishop’s cap have survived for eons.

WATER TOWER
WATER TOWER

Reservoir Park, South Grand Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri—January 2014

38° 36' 53.7438"N 90° 14' 19.1868"W

This birdbath-shaped cairn nests in the snow on the steps to the Compton Hill reservoir, adjacent to the 179-foot-tall Compton Hill Water Tower. A vintage ornament swirls through the Water Tower cairn to suggest water moving from the reservoir to the tower.

CHECKING STARBOARD
CHECKING STARBOARD

Florida and C streets, St. Louis, Missouri—October 2013

38' 22.8048"N 90° 10' 56.2398"W

Seven individual cairn sculptures are placed in the shape of the Big Dipper star constellation-pointing north. Most of the time, Illinois is east of Missouri, but because of a bend in the Mississippi River which divides the two states, Illinois is north at this point.

FLUID 

FLUID 


Maryville University, Town and Country, Missouri—August 2012

38° 36' 12.672"N 90.19921W

The fissure in the limestone behind the cairn shows how water flowing, freezing, and thawing can split the rocks, changing the landscape.

CHECKING THE PORT
CHECKING THE PORT

Granite City and Madison, Illinois—March 2013

38° 41' 4.9344"N 90° 11' 3.7386"W

Sixteen cairns, their shapes inspired by chess pieces, were placed on the site of the America’s Central Port’s new harbor, being constructed where the southern end of the Chain of Rocks Canal meets the Mississippi River.

CHINA CREEK
CHINA CREEK

Lewis and Clark Community College, Grafton, Illinois—October 2013

38° 57' 7.4334"N 90° 11' 57.7104"W

China Creek is named for the broken pieces of dinnerware found in the creek bed on the Lewis and Clark Community College campus. The broken ceramics incorporated into the cairn and seen in the water have their origin in the college’s history, which began as the nation’s second college for women in 1838. 

CHINA CREEK 2
CHINA CREEK 2

Lewis and Clark Community College, Grafton, Illinois—October 2013

38° 57' 7.4334"N 90° 11' 57.7104"W

China Creek is named for the broken pieces of dinnerware found in the creek bed on the Lewis and Clark Community College campus. The college began as a college for women in 1838. you can still see china with the Monticello logo in the water. 

CRACKED
CRACKED

Sports Complex at Forestwood Park, Ferguson, Missouri-August 2012   38° 44' 17.8434"N 90° 17' 3.372"W

Rain falling in this part of Maline Creek drainage area, or sub-watershed, flows from a fenced, concrete-lined channel and into the creek at the edge of Forestwood Park.

DRINK UP
DRINK UP

Missouri American Water, 901 Hog Hollow Road, Chesterfield, Missouri- October 2012  38° 41' 7.926"N 90.523020W

This cairn is poised on the Missouri American water intake, looking up the Missouri River toward the smokestack of the City of St. Louis Howard Bend Water Plant, reminding us that our drinking water comes from the rivers.

 ELSAH FLOOD June 2013
ELSAH FLOOD June 2013

Mississippi Road near the Great River Road, Elsah, Illinois—June 2013

38° 57' 7.239"N 90° 21' 45.8886"W

When heavy rainfall in the Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi watersheds combine, the Mississippi River backs up, pouring water into Elsah. This the second flood of the year.

 

GREEN GODDESS

GREEN GODDESS


Fairmont City, Illinois—April 2013

38° 38' 54.0846"N 90° 6' 32.7054"W

Most people don’t like algae—it’s slimy—but algae is a Green Goddess providing food for animals and nutrients for plants like these five-foot-tall grasses.

FLOWer- ALLEY
FLOWer- ALLEY

Multiple locations in Metro St. Louis—2012-2013

38° 36' 14.814"N 90° 13' 3.1326"W

Older cities like St. Louis have sewer systems with both sanitary and storm drainage routed through the same pipes including 100-year-old brick tunnel under this alley.

TREE FOR THE FOREST (PARK)
TREE FOR THE FOREST (PARK)

Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri—November 2013

38° 38' 25.6596"N 90.271637W

This cairn is made of glass cylinders, nestled inside one another, to mimic the growth rings of a tree. An actual tree gains one ring in each year of its life.

GAIA
GAIA

Mill Creek, Cobden, Illinois—March 2012

37° 34' 52.4994"N 89.27101W

This cairn is named for Gaia, the personification of the Earth and the mother of all the gods in ancient Greek religion.

GREENKNEES
GREENKNEES

Frank Holten State Park, East St. Louis, Illinois—January 2014

38° 35' 49.9122"N 90° 6' 0.0504"W

Seven green-glass cairns rest on the ices between the knees of a solitary baldcypress tree at the edge of Whispering Willow Lake. 

HIGH WATER/low water
HIGH WATER/low water

South Warf Street, St. Louis, Missouri—February 2013

38° 36' 35.7402"N 90° 11' 23.8452"W

These two cairns were photographed in an industrial area just south of the Gateway Arch north/upriver of the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District Miller Street Pumping Station when the river was low.

KARST
KARST

Sioux Passage Park, Missouri—August 2011

38° 51' 3.0954"N 90° 16' 37.9194"W

Much of the St. Louis Region is built on karst, a limestone foundation that dissolves to create sinkholes, like this one near the Missouri River in North St. Louis County.

KITCHEN SINK 2
KITCHEN SINK 2

Madison Road near Mueller Lane, Madison County, Illinois—April 2013

38° 38' 31.6602" 90° 7' 31.1916"W

Two mushroom-shaped Kitchen Sink cairns rest alongside this stream in the Horseshoe Lake watershed. Wedged between an auto salvage yard and a giant landfill, this stream is struggling to survive.

LIBATION
LIBATION

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Crestwood, Missouri—October 2013

38° 33' 7.9344"N 90° 21' 7.491"W

 In African, and in the tradition of many cultures, libation (“LIE-bay-shn”) is the term for water or other clear liquid that is poured on the ground in memory of the deceased. In this image, the water of Prairie Creek, is pouring over the Libation cairn in memory of the enslaved people who worked on President Grant's father-in-law's farm.

LIBATION 2
LIBATION 2

White Cliffs Park, Crestwood, Missouri—October 2013

38°33'22.98"N 90°22'8.03"W

The Libation cairn stands at the edge of a historic quarry that provided the stone for many foundations and public buildings in the area from the late 1800s until the quarry began to fill with groundwater in the early 1900s. 

OIL CAN
OIL CAN

Lewis and Clark Departure Memorial, Hartford, Illinois—May 2011

38° 48' 18.684"N 90° 6' 41.976"W

When Lewis and Clark launched their Journey of Discovery near this spot in May 1804, rivers were their roads and oil came from plants and animals. Now, oil from distant wells is transported to the nearby refinery at Hartford, Illinois.

PRECIPITATION
PRECIPITATION

Chain of Rocks Park, St. Louis, Missouri—March 2012

38°45'34.18"N  90°11'10.23"W

Fifteen blue- and clear-glass cairn sculptures stand on concrete steps in this north St. Louis city park, where melted snow water will flow to the Mississippi River.

RIPARIAN
RIPARIAN

St. Stanislaus Conservation Area, Hazelwood, Missouri—January 2013

38° 48' 50.5218"N 90° 23' 40.9446"W

A riparian buffer is an area of trees and grasses that shades the water and slows down runoff from adjacent land.

LIGHTHOUSE - RIVERLANDS
LIGHTHOUSE - RIVERLANDS

Audubon Center at Riverlands, West Alton, Missouri—March 2014

N38.869872 W090.282452

The Lighthouse cairn is composed of green and clear glass. The clear vase on the top is in the shape of a man’s head. In his three-cornered hat is one of the many feathers found on the melting ice of Ellis Bay on the Mississippi River.

 LIGHTHOUSE – CLARK BRIDGE
LIGHTHOUSE – CLARK BRIDGE

Under the Clark Bridge, West Alton, Missouri—March 2014

N 38.879786 W090.184238

Posed below the Clark Bridge, looking east to the town of Alton, Illinois, the green- and clear-glass Lighthouse cairn marks the journey of human travelers across the river.

 CINDERELLA, ROCK-R-FELLA
CINDERELLA, ROCK-R-FELLA

Castlewood County Park, Chesterfield, Missouri—October 2011

38° 19' 43.68"N 90.32493W

Cinderella, Rock-r-Fella cairn, assembled from a glass fish bowl, vases, and ashtrays, and containing rocks from the site, sits on a rusty, three-legged metal stool overlooking the Meramec River at Kiefer Creek.

SEDGE
SEDGE

Off Highway 3, Granite City, IL—January 2013

38° 43' 31.1874"N 90° 8' 57.6414"W

Like the almost invisible Sedge cairn, sedge plants, solid-stem grass-like vegetation are difficult to distinguish from true grasses, including lawn grasses and cultivated grains.

SEDGE ll
SEDGE ll

Off Highway 3,Granite City, IL—February 2013

38° 43' 26.0976"N 90° 8' 59.208"W

The Sedge cairn was photographed at dusk between a highway and railroad track to illustrate the ways we can pass very close to natural areas without seeing them.

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-POND
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-POND

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

N38.470211 W089.824936

A foggy dawn in the wetlands south of Mascoutah, Illinois reveals the green glass of the Silver Creek Spire cairn.

 

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-ROADSIDE
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-ROADSIDE

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

38° 27' 55.044"N 89° 49' 2.964"W

This stream hides the Silver Creek Spire cairn and nourishes a multiplicity of wild plants, insects, and animals as it flows between Brickyard Lane and a farmer’s field.

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-TREE
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-TREE

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

N38.469273 W089.827385

The Silver Creek Spire was created for this tree in a seasonal streambed at the midpoint on the paved trail around Silver Creek Preserve. It was only after we began showing the image to friends that we learned the story behind this unusual tree shape.

GROUNDWATER
GROUNDWATER

Stemler Cave, Columbia, Illinois—July 2012, Private property near Stemler Trail

Some streams drop below the ground’s surface. Other streams begin as springs, deep in caves. Ultimately the water all reaches its river destination.

 

TRANSGENDERED FROGS
TRANSGENDERED FROGS

Howell Island Conservation Area, Chesterfield, Missouri—May 2012

38° 39' 52.1994"N 90° 40' 46.6314"W

The title of this piece refers to the genetic mutations occurring in frogs and fish in rivers where high concentrations of hormones and chemicals from prescription drugs have been detected.

 

TRIBUTARY
TRIBUTARY

Cliff Cave County Park, St. Louis County, Missouri—July 2011

28° 35' 36.06"N 90° 17' 13.1274"W

A small, unnamed stream flows through eroded banks into the Mississippi River on a sunny day in south St. Louis County.

 

WHITEBIRD
WHITEBIRD

Rockford Beach, Big River, Jefferson County, Missouri—September 2013

38° 25' 18.339"N  90° 35' 19.2624"W

Although the mines of Missouri’s Old Lead Belt have closed, the water in the Big River is contaminated with lead and zinc from the chat (waste mineral ore). Fish in these waters have higher concentrations of lead in their bodies than in nonmining areas, and some wildlife, especially fish-eating birds like herons and egrets, may be adversely affected. 

BALANCE
BALANCE

Greenmount & Frank Scott, Shiloh, Illinois—Oct. 2011

38° 34' 9.372"N 89° 55' 46.4154"W

This 5-foot-tall cairn is dwarfed by construction materials that will be used to bury a creek and to channel storm water from two large shopping malls into the remains of a natural stream. 

KITCHEN SINK 2
KITCHEN SINK 2

Madison Road near Mueller Lane, Madison County, Illinois-April 2013

38° 38' 31.6602" 90° 7' 31.1916"W

Mushroom-shaped Kitchen Sink cairns rest alongside this stream in the Horseshoe Lake watershed. Wedged between an auto salvage yard and a giant landfill, this stream is struggling to survive.

 

TECHNOLOGY WILL/WON’T SAVE US
TECHNOLOGY WILL/WON’T SAVE US

River des Peres Greenway, St. Louis, Missouri—October 2011

38° 32' 39.588"N 90° 16' 13.728"W

An outdated cathode-ray tube on the top of this found-glass-and-metal sculpture stands in the River des Peres concrete channel, built to conduct water flowing from storm sewers into the Mississippi River.

AMPHORA
AMPHORA

Shenandoah and Second Street, St. Louis, Missouri—March 2011

38° 36' 12.672"N 90.19921W

An amphora is an ancient Greek vase used to carry water.  If you look closely, you will see a tiny clay amphora in the top of this glass cairn.

MISSISSIPPI AND MISSOURI RIVER CONFLUENCE
SWAMP
PINK
FLOWer RAIN GARDEN
PARK BRIDGE 1
PARK BRIDGE 2
TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE
TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE 2
HORSESHOE LAKE
BUBBLE 1
FAIR GROUND
STILL BLUE – STREAM
STILL BLUE – ICE CAVE
STILL BLUE – PROP
MIDAS
STALAGMITE
TRIBUTARY QUARRY
 TETHYS MERAMEC STUMP
TETHYS COURTOIS
TETHYS ROUTE 66 BRIDGE
FLOWer SEWER
RIVR WATR
THE ICE STOPPED HERE
WATER TOWER
CHECKING STARBOARD
FLUID 

CHECKING THE PORT
CHINA CREEK
CHINA CREEK 2
CRACKED
DRINK UP
 ELSAH FLOOD June 2013
GREEN GODDESS

FLOWer- ALLEY
TREE FOR THE FOREST (PARK)
GAIA
GREENKNEES
HIGH WATER/low water
KARST
KITCHEN SINK 2
LIBATION
LIBATION 2
OIL CAN
PRECIPITATION
RIPARIAN
LIGHTHOUSE - RIVERLANDS
 LIGHTHOUSE – CLARK BRIDGE
 CINDERELLA, ROCK-R-FELLA
SEDGE
SEDGE ll
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-POND
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-ROADSIDE
SILVER CREEK SPIRE-TREE
GROUNDWATER
TRANSGENDERED FROGS
TRIBUTARY
WHITEBIRD
BALANCE
KITCHEN SINK 2
TECHNOLOGY WILL/WON’T SAVE US
AMPHORA
MISSISSIPPI AND MISSOURI RIVER CONFLUENCE

We started making work in our home of St. Louis, home of the meeting of America's two greatest rivers.

SWAMP

Chouteau Island, Madison County, Illinois - January 2016
N38.760794 W90.147436
Chouteau Island is the northern part of the land between the Chain of Rocks Canal and the wild stretch of the Mississippi River that separates Missouri from Illinois. You can see this agricultural and conservation area by looking down at the eastern end of the highway 270 bridge.  More info

PINK

St. Louis Community College Florissant Valley, Ferguson, Missouri—January 2016

38°45'56.52"N 90°17'28.96"W

The Pink cairn rests in the snow at the edge of the creek in the western part of the St. Louis Community College, Florissant Valley campus.

 

FLOWer RAIN GARDEN

14th Street Between Monroe and Clinton Streets, St. Louis, Missouri—September 2015

38°38'48.61"N 90°11'42.76"W

The FLOWer cairn poses on the rocky bed of the Old North Rain Garden that was installed in Summer 2013. The purpose of a rain garden is to slow down stormwater before it gets to Metropolitan Sewer District’s underground pipes.

PARK BRIDGE 1

North 40th Street and Morris Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois—6 a.m., July 4, 2015

38°38'20.07"N 90° 6'31.29"W

 This Metro East neighborhood of small to midsized homes is located near the Jackie Joiner-Kersey Youth Center, Jones Park, and the JJK Center MetroLink station. This photograph looks east in the very early morning as fog rises from a stream, flowing in the center of a long, freshly mowed park. A forest of trees separates this area from the railroad tracks to the north. 

PARK BRIDGE 2

North 36th Street and Morris Avenue, East St. Louis, Illinois—7 a.m., July 4, 2015

38°38'18.08"N 90° 6'43.74"W 

The Park Bridge Cairn is assembled from an odd collection of glass objects balanced on one of several bridges crossing the storm drainage channel that was once the meandering Schoenberger Creek.

TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE

Earl Widman County Park , 7730 Telegraph Rd. , St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2015

38° 25' 27.408"N 90° 20' 40.581"

The Tethys cairn that has been photographed following the water from the Courtois and Huzzah and into the Meramec is shown here 55 feet east of the bank of the Meramec at the southern edge of St. Louis County. This area was used as Widman County Park until repeated flooding (most recently in 2008, 2009 and 2010) made its maintenance too frequent and expensive.  

TETHYS – FLOOD EVIDENCE 2

Earl Widman County Park , 7730 Telegraph Rd. , St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2015

38° 25' 27.408"N 90° 20' 40.581"

The Tethys cairn is photographed in the water at Earl Widman Park. This area was a farm field, then became a rock quarry.  Beginning in 1993, floodwater filled the quarry, creating this pond. Trash like the yellow lawn hose seen around the base of Tethys was washed into the water in the subsequent, frequent floods. 

HORSESHOE LAKE

Layton Road, Madison County, Illinois—April 2015

38° 40' 55.9992"N 90° 6' 33.9978

Horseshoe Lake is the second largest natural lake in the State of Illinois. Formed centuries ago after a flood when the Mississippi River found a new channel across the bottomland and left this oxbow-shape lake to fend for itself.

BUBBLE 1

Highway #3 Construction, Packer Avenue near St. Clair Avenue, National City, Illinois—May 2015

N38.64388 W090.16333

Looking west to the Gateway National Expansion Memorial, the Arch, This Bubble cairn rests in a ditch next to Highway #3 construction. The highway is being revamped and re-ramped to connect with the recently completed Stan Musial Veteran’s Memorial Bridge.

 

FAIR GROUND

Fairground Park, St. Louis City, Missouri—October 2014

38° 40' 6.099"N 90° 13' 28.959"W

The Fair Ground cairn is placed between a trash and recycling bin behind a one-story pink building on the northwest corner of Fairground Park.  The park’s rich, but largely forgotten, history illustrates how social, economic, and political conditions influence the watershed.

STILL BLUE – STREAM

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

In his 1963 report Some Unusual Natural Areas in Illinois and a Few of Their Plants, Robert A. Evers addressed Devil’s Prop.   He wrote, “At one place the small stream flows through a narrow, V-shaped ravine. In some places, the sandstone of the steep sides is exposed and in other places covered with a thin layer of soil."

STILL BLUE – ICE CAVE

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

Still Blue’s title was suggested by the tranquility of this rocky, wooded, and moss-covered natural area.  The stillness was broken only by the sound of melting water as it gurgled into the ground beneath the frozen waterfalls. Occasionally, one of those massive icicles broke free from the rocky cliff and crashed, rumbling the ground under our feet.

STILL BLUE – PROP

Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve, between Texico and Harmony, Illinois—January 2015

38°25'13.38"N 88°50'25.26"W

The Still Blue cairn rests under the arm of the rock formation that gives Devil’s Prop Nature Preserve its name. The rock is unusual, but the entire ecosystem of bluff, stream, trees, and plants is a rare chance to see what the region was like before so much land was cleared for agriculture.

MIDAS

Wild Rose Farm, North Copple Lane, Dix, Illinois—October 2014

Private Property

In ancient mythology, Midas is given the power to turn everything he touches into gold, which makes him a very rich man.  However, when he kisses his beloved daughter, she too turns into the cold, hard, valuable metal.  This cairn uses the Midas story as a cautionary tale. 

STALAGMITE

Veterans Memorial Park, Forest Ave., Mt. Vernon, Illinois— December 2014

38° 18' 17.0598"N 88° 55' 24.7506"W

A stalagmite is a natural stone tower built of minerals deposited by slowly dripping water on the floor of a cave. Here, more than 20 “stalagmite” cairns stand in a spillway, that looks like a shallow, manmade cave.

TRIBUTARY QUARRY

Cliff Cave Road, St. Louis County, Missouri—March 2014

N38.467794 W090.286933

The Tributary cairn overlooks the Bussen Quarry where limestone is mined. You can see the Jefferson Barracks Bridge and the Mississippi River in the distance, behind the 600-acre quarry site.

TETHYS MERAMEC STUMP

Meramec River, Leasburg, Missouri—August 2014

N38.056089 W091.230208

Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, rests on a stump where a small stream enters the river. A group of people-shy ducks were swimming nearby but refused to paddle into the photograph even when we tossed granola into the water.

TETHYS COURTOIS

Courtois Creek, Leasburg, Missouri—August 2014

N38.029614 W091.221042

The Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, is balanced on a “raft” of sticks caught by an island that is not much bigger than the beverage coolers in the passing canoes.

TETHYS ROUTE 66 BRIDGE

Meramec River at Route 66 State Park, 97 Outer Road East, No.1, Eureka, Missouri—August 2014

38° 30' 18.2694N 90° 35' 29.5002"W

Tethys cairn, marking the Meramec River watershed in southwestern metropolitan St. Louis, sits on a concrete foundation, all that remains of an early bridge, and in front of a more recently decommissioned Route 66 highway bridge.

 

FLOWer SEWER

Sewer south of Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri—April 2014

38° 37' 20.9784"N 90° 16' 17.5074"W

The blue and green glass FLOWer cairn sits in 6–12 inches of mostly rainwater on the curved floor of a 30-foot-diameter concrete tunnel. At intervals, grates in the bottom of the tunnel drain some of this ground water into the wastewater flowing in the sanitary sewers, below.

RIVR WATR

YMCA, 600 Loughborough Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri—June 2014

N38.555256 W090.257417

Resting in an empty swimming pool at the historic Carondelet YMCA, a red- and clear-glass cairn supports a repurposed EXIT lamp on the top. The word EXIT has been replaced with the letters RIVR to remind us that the water we use in our homes, businesses, and swimming pools comes from the river and will return to the river. 

THE ICE STOPPED HERE

Mill Creek Natural Area (near Piney Creek), Randolph County, Illinois—November 2013

37° 53' 42.6726"N 89° 39' 11.7066"W

This cairn marks a special place at the edge of the ancient glacier’s reach in Randolph County. Here, the sandstone canyons and gorges create a cool microclimate where club moss, cinnamon fern, and bishop’s cap have survived for eons.

WATER TOWER

Reservoir Park, South Grand Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri—January 2014

38° 36' 53.7438"N 90° 14' 19.1868"W

This birdbath-shaped cairn nests in the snow on the steps to the Compton Hill reservoir, adjacent to the 179-foot-tall Compton Hill Water Tower. A vintage ornament swirls through the Water Tower cairn to suggest water moving from the reservoir to the tower.

CHECKING STARBOARD

Florida and C streets, St. Louis, Missouri—October 2013

38' 22.8048"N 90° 10' 56.2398"W

Seven individual cairn sculptures are placed in the shape of the Big Dipper star constellation-pointing north. Most of the time, Illinois is east of Missouri, but because of a bend in the Mississippi River which divides the two states, Illinois is north at this point.

FLUID 


Maryville University, Town and Country, Missouri—August 2012

38° 36' 12.672"N 90.19921W

The fissure in the limestone behind the cairn shows how water flowing, freezing, and thawing can split the rocks, changing the landscape.

CHECKING THE PORT

Granite City and Madison, Illinois—March 2013

38° 41' 4.9344"N 90° 11' 3.7386"W

Sixteen cairns, their shapes inspired by chess pieces, were placed on the site of the America’s Central Port’s new harbor, being constructed where the southern end of the Chain of Rocks Canal meets the Mississippi River.

CHINA CREEK

Lewis and Clark Community College, Grafton, Illinois—October 2013

38° 57' 7.4334"N 90° 11' 57.7104"W

China Creek is named for the broken pieces of dinnerware found in the creek bed on the Lewis and Clark Community College campus. The broken ceramics incorporated into the cairn and seen in the water have their origin in the college’s history, which began as the nation’s second college for women in 1838. 

CHINA CREEK 2

Lewis and Clark Community College, Grafton, Illinois—October 2013

38° 57' 7.4334"N 90° 11' 57.7104"W

China Creek is named for the broken pieces of dinnerware found in the creek bed on the Lewis and Clark Community College campus. The college began as a college for women in 1838. you can still see china with the Monticello logo in the water. 

CRACKED

Sports Complex at Forestwood Park, Ferguson, Missouri-August 2012   38° 44' 17.8434"N 90° 17' 3.372"W

Rain falling in this part of Maline Creek drainage area, or sub-watershed, flows from a fenced, concrete-lined channel and into the creek at the edge of Forestwood Park.

DRINK UP

Missouri American Water, 901 Hog Hollow Road, Chesterfield, Missouri- October 2012  38° 41' 7.926"N 90.523020W

This cairn is poised on the Missouri American water intake, looking up the Missouri River toward the smokestack of the City of St. Louis Howard Bend Water Plant, reminding us that our drinking water comes from the rivers.

ELSAH FLOOD June 2013

Mississippi Road near the Great River Road, Elsah, Illinois—June 2013

38° 57' 7.239"N 90° 21' 45.8886"W

When heavy rainfall in the Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi watersheds combine, the Mississippi River backs up, pouring water into Elsah. This the second flood of the year.

 

GREEN GODDESS


Fairmont City, Illinois—April 2013

38° 38' 54.0846"N 90° 6' 32.7054"W

Most people don’t like algae—it’s slimy—but algae is a Green Goddess providing food for animals and nutrients for plants like these five-foot-tall grasses.

FLOWer- ALLEY

Multiple locations in Metro St. Louis—2012-2013

38° 36' 14.814"N 90° 13' 3.1326"W

Older cities like St. Louis have sewer systems with both sanitary and storm drainage routed through the same pipes including 100-year-old brick tunnel under this alley.

TREE FOR THE FOREST (PARK)

Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri—November 2013

38° 38' 25.6596"N 90.271637W

This cairn is made of glass cylinders, nestled inside one another, to mimic the growth rings of a tree. An actual tree gains one ring in each year of its life.

GAIA

Mill Creek, Cobden, Illinois—March 2012

37° 34' 52.4994"N 89.27101W

This cairn is named for Gaia, the personification of the Earth and the mother of all the gods in ancient Greek religion.

GREENKNEES

Frank Holten State Park, East St. Louis, Illinois—January 2014

38° 35' 49.9122"N 90° 6' 0.0504"W

Seven green-glass cairns rest on the ices between the knees of a solitary baldcypress tree at the edge of Whispering Willow Lake. 

HIGH WATER/low water

South Warf Street, St. Louis, Missouri—February 2013

38° 36' 35.7402"N 90° 11' 23.8452"W

These two cairns were photographed in an industrial area just south of the Gateway Arch north/upriver of the St. Louis Metropolitan Sewer District Miller Street Pumping Station when the river was low.

KARST

Sioux Passage Park, Missouri—August 2011

38° 51' 3.0954"N 90° 16' 37.9194"W

Much of the St. Louis Region is built on karst, a limestone foundation that dissolves to create sinkholes, like this one near the Missouri River in North St. Louis County.

KITCHEN SINK 2

Madison Road near Mueller Lane, Madison County, Illinois—April 2013

38° 38' 31.6602" 90° 7' 31.1916"W

Two mushroom-shaped Kitchen Sink cairns rest alongside this stream in the Horseshoe Lake watershed. Wedged between an auto salvage yard and a giant landfill, this stream is struggling to survive.

LIBATION

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Crestwood, Missouri—October 2013

38° 33' 7.9344"N 90° 21' 7.491"W

 In African, and in the tradition of many cultures, libation (“LIE-bay-shn”) is the term for water or other clear liquid that is poured on the ground in memory of the deceased. In this image, the water of Prairie Creek, is pouring over the Libation cairn in memory of the enslaved people who worked on President Grant's father-in-law's farm.

LIBATION 2

White Cliffs Park, Crestwood, Missouri—October 2013

38°33'22.98"N 90°22'8.03"W

The Libation cairn stands at the edge of a historic quarry that provided the stone for many foundations and public buildings in the area from the late 1800s until the quarry began to fill with groundwater in the early 1900s. 

OIL CAN

Lewis and Clark Departure Memorial, Hartford, Illinois—May 2011

38° 48' 18.684"N 90° 6' 41.976"W

When Lewis and Clark launched their Journey of Discovery near this spot in May 1804, rivers were their roads and oil came from plants and animals. Now, oil from distant wells is transported to the nearby refinery at Hartford, Illinois.

PRECIPITATION

Chain of Rocks Park, St. Louis, Missouri—March 2012

38°45'34.18"N  90°11'10.23"W

Fifteen blue- and clear-glass cairn sculptures stand on concrete steps in this north St. Louis city park, where melted snow water will flow to the Mississippi River.

RIPARIAN

St. Stanislaus Conservation Area, Hazelwood, Missouri—January 2013

38° 48' 50.5218"N 90° 23' 40.9446"W

A riparian buffer is an area of trees and grasses that shades the water and slows down runoff from adjacent land.

LIGHTHOUSE - RIVERLANDS

Audubon Center at Riverlands, West Alton, Missouri—March 2014

N38.869872 W090.282452

The Lighthouse cairn is composed of green and clear glass. The clear vase on the top is in the shape of a man’s head. In his three-cornered hat is one of the many feathers found on the melting ice of Ellis Bay on the Mississippi River.

LIGHTHOUSE – CLARK BRIDGE

Under the Clark Bridge, West Alton, Missouri—March 2014

N 38.879786 W090.184238

Posed below the Clark Bridge, looking east to the town of Alton, Illinois, the green- and clear-glass Lighthouse cairn marks the journey of human travelers across the river.

CINDERELLA, ROCK-R-FELLA

Castlewood County Park, Chesterfield, Missouri—October 2011

38° 19' 43.68"N 90.32493W

Cinderella, Rock-r-Fella cairn, assembled from a glass fish bowl, vases, and ashtrays, and containing rocks from the site, sits on a rusty, three-legged metal stool overlooking the Meramec River at Kiefer Creek.

SEDGE

Off Highway 3, Granite City, IL—January 2013

38° 43' 31.1874"N 90° 8' 57.6414"W

Like the almost invisible Sedge cairn, sedge plants, solid-stem grass-like vegetation are difficult to distinguish from true grasses, including lawn grasses and cultivated grains.

SEDGE ll

Off Highway 3,Granite City, IL—February 2013

38° 43' 26.0976"N 90° 8' 59.208"W

The Sedge cairn was photographed at dusk between a highway and railroad track to illustrate the ways we can pass very close to natural areas without seeing them.

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-POND

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

N38.470211 W089.824936

A foggy dawn in the wetlands south of Mascoutah, Illinois reveals the green glass of the Silver Creek Spire cairn.

 

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-ROADSIDE

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

38° 27' 55.044"N 89° 49' 2.964"W

This stream hides the Silver Creek Spire cairn and nourishes a multiplicity of wild plants, insects, and animals as it flows between Brickyard Lane and a farmer’s field.

SILVER CREEK SPIRE-TREE

Silver Creek Preserve, Mascoutah, Illinois—September 2013

N38.469273 W089.827385

The Silver Creek Spire was created for this tree in a seasonal streambed at the midpoint on the paved trail around Silver Creek Preserve. It was only after we began showing the image to friends that we learned the story behind this unusual tree shape.

GROUNDWATER

Stemler Cave, Columbia, Illinois—July 2012, Private property near Stemler Trail

Some streams drop below the ground’s surface. Other streams begin as springs, deep in caves. Ultimately the water all reaches its river destination.

 

TRANSGENDERED FROGS

Howell Island Conservation Area, Chesterfield, Missouri—May 2012

38° 39' 52.1994"N 90° 40' 46.6314"W

The title of this piece refers to the genetic mutations occurring in frogs and fish in rivers where high concentrations of hormones and chemicals from prescription drugs have been detected.

 

TRIBUTARY

Cliff Cave County Park, St. Louis County, Missouri—July 2011

28° 35' 36.06"N 90° 17' 13.1274"W

A small, unnamed stream flows through eroded banks into the Mississippi River on a sunny day in south St. Louis County.

 

WHITEBIRD

Rockford Beach, Big River, Jefferson County, Missouri—September 2013

38° 25' 18.339"N  90° 35' 19.2624"W

Although the mines of Missouri’s Old Lead Belt have closed, the water in the Big River is contaminated with lead and zinc from the chat (waste mineral ore). Fish in these waters have higher concentrations of lead in their bodies than in nonmining areas, and some wildlife, especially fish-eating birds like herons and egrets, may be adversely affected. 

BALANCE

Greenmount & Frank Scott, Shiloh, Illinois—Oct. 2011

38° 34' 9.372"N 89° 55' 46.4154"W

This 5-foot-tall cairn is dwarfed by construction materials that will be used to bury a creek and to channel storm water from two large shopping malls into the remains of a natural stream. 

KITCHEN SINK 2

Madison Road near Mueller Lane, Madison County, Illinois-April 2013

38° 38' 31.6602" 90° 7' 31.1916"W

Mushroom-shaped Kitchen Sink cairns rest alongside this stream in the Horseshoe Lake watershed. Wedged between an auto salvage yard and a giant landfill, this stream is struggling to survive.

 

TECHNOLOGY WILL/WON’T SAVE US

River des Peres Greenway, St. Louis, Missouri—October 2011

38° 32' 39.588"N 90° 16' 13.728"W

An outdated cathode-ray tube on the top of this found-glass-and-metal sculpture stands in the River des Peres concrete channel, built to conduct water flowing from storm sewers into the Mississippi River.

AMPHORA

Shenandoah and Second Street, St. Louis, Missouri—March 2011

38° 36' 12.672"N 90.19921W

An amphora is an ancient Greek vase used to carry water.  If you look closely, you will see a tiny clay amphora in the top of this glass cairn.

show thumbnails