Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The 700 Block of Jefferson Street in the Southside

Below is the text for the "Munichburg Memories" ad that ran in the Jefferson City News Tribune on September 12, 2021, as a promotion for the Old Munichburg Association's annual Oktoberfest, which was held September 25.

The image that this post refers to is the property of C. Trenton Boyd, who graciously allowed us to use it in the newspaper promotion. He did not provide permission for any other use, so the image does not appear here. A verbal description of the image appears at the end of this post.


Jefferson Street has always been a major street in the Southside. However, its 700 block—the hill from Dunklin past ECCO up to Ashley—presented problems for traffic. When it had a dirt surface in the nineteenth century, wagons used every bit of its 80-foot right-of-way to zigzag up the steep grade through deep ruts. The hill was so troublesome, going both up and down, that horses and wagons often detoured over to Washington Street past Central Church.

A chief impediment was a rock ledge in the middle of the hill and an oozing spring above it. This spring was associated with a natural cave just to the east of the street, which Farmers Home used for natural cooling. The constant seepage in the street was not overcome until the mid-twentieth century.

The steepness of the hill was lessened by grading down the road bed. The photo (ca. 1910) shows thirteen men (all with hats) removing several feet of rock from the crest of the Jefferson Street hill at Ashley Street. They are using a single pneumatic jackhammer (used by the man in back, right), plus picks and shovels. Men in suit coats are hauling away rock in two mule-pulled wagons. Central Church is visible in the left background. Today’s Calvary’s Gifts is located where the black steam boiler is. The two-story, frame Kielman house (no longer there) is on the right, atop undisturbed rock; when the grading was done, it was eight feet above the new street level.


Image description: The black-and-white photograph was taken from roughly east-southeast of the intersection of Jefferson and Ashley; the view is roughly north. Central Evangelical Church is at the far left, in the background, and a clapboard-sided, two-story house is at the right. The center foreground is dominated by a wide area of excavation into bedrock. Within the excavated area are two mule-drawn, open-bed wagons (in line, with both facing toward the left) and thirteen men standing at their various work locations to pose for the picture. Several of the men are leaning on their shovels or other tools. In each wagon, a teamster stands holding the mules' reins. At the right, a man at a higher level of the excavated area appears to be jackhammering and is the only person not facing the camera. A large steam-powered generator stands in the background, with smoke coming from its exhaust stack and drifting toward the south. A shadow, apparently cast by an off-camera structure to the left, falls on the lower left portion of the image, shading the front part of the front mule and the south part of the excavated area.

©Walter A. Schroeder, 2021