Chouteau Gardens history began when about 38,000 acres were included in the Pierre Chouteau land grant from the Osage Indians. About 6 miles southeast of Blackwater a town was laid out as well as a park, called Chouteau Springs, as was the town. Three or four sulphur springs were located in the park and from 1900 to the 1950's the park thrived on visitors who came to drink the "healing waters" as well as to entertain themselves with croquet matches, an outdoor bowling alley, a dance pavilion, refreshment stand, horseshoe pitching and an ice cold swimming pool, fed by the springs. A row of wooden bathhouses in which to change clothes, stood on one side of the pool and bathing suits could be rented.
The town never developed much past the hotel and a few houses but the park stood the test of time and going to Chouteau Park was a treat for a family reunion or Fourth of July long after the railroad ceased to send passenger cars its way. Each sulphur spring was left open, a gazebo erected above it, benches lined the inside of the gazebo, and people could sit and rest there, dipping their tin cup into the spring anytime they felt a thirst. Most people considered the water to taste like 'rotten eggs' but it had its supporters, too, who took home gallons of the water to drink until their next visit.
When the pocket flower garden was established on Main St. Blackwater, where once a building stood, and named Chouteau Gardens, artist, Bonnie Rapp, painted a mural depicting the old Chouteau Springs Park with a lady and gentleman strolling towards the gazebo over one of the springs, of the early 1900's era.
The front part consists of paving bricks made in LaClede which were found hidden by years of soil build up, making a path from the old hotel to the spot where once the depot stood. A fountain was purchased and transported from New Orleans. Sweet Bay Magnolia, Korean Lilac, Boxwood hedge, Allegheny Viburnum, Oak Leaf Hydrangea and the Hydrangea vines clutch the brick walls. Other flowers soon filled in the gaps and benches and a wrought iron table and chairs in the back area accommodate visitors who want to picnic or just sit and talk.
Address: Main Street
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Come visit us in Blackwater, Missouri