History and Significance
On May 18, 1804, Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed the Mississippi River and entered the Missouri River on their epic journey of exploration. What is now Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park offers a vista of the meeting of these two great rivers that played such an important role in the exploration of the western United States. The park, which opened on May 9, 2004, now allows public access to two of Missouri's most significant natural and cultural resources, the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. These two rivers border the park on three sides and merge into one, at the park's southern most tip. The confluence of these two rivers provides a natural scene of majestic beauty and is of national historical significance. "I believe this is the finest confluence in the world," wrote French explorer Father Pierre Francois de Charlevoix during a 1721 visit to the area. Due to the dynamic nature of a flood plain the park is much different now compared to what these early explorers witnessed, but the park is still a unique area with a tremendous amount of diversity and recreational opportunities.
While most of the park was cleared in the 1950s for farming, there are still some areas similar to the descriptions of historical surveys. Early land survey data depicted the confluence area as mostly prairie and marsh with some bottomland forest. This existing flood plain community ecosystem is still used today by 60% of all North American bird species. As a result, the confluence point is one of the area's best places for bird watching as millions of birds migrate along the Mississippi River corridor each spring and fall. There are also two endangered species and one species of conservation concern that can be found in the park. With so much diversity and the potential for much more, the restoration of a natural flood plain reminiscent of what Lewis and Clark might have seen along the lower Missouri River will be one of the primary focuses in the park. This restoration will emphasize native vegetation and the natural wetlands suitable for the site's current soil, topography and hydrology.
In an effort to increase recreational opportunities in both the park and the surrounding metropolitan area, the Division of State Parks hopes to some day link the Katy Trail State Park to the Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park, in an ongoing effort to connect numerous hiking and biking trails through out the area.
Interpreting the cultural significance as well as the natural diversity of this area will also be a major focus at the park. Through the years Early Native Americans and European Explorers and fur traders used this area extensively. In 1804, explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their epic journey up the Missouri and across the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean. Today, the Mississippi River is used as a vital mode of transportation down which the products of America's factories and fields travel to the world market. When one ruminates about both the park's natural and cultural history and the fact the park is within a one-hour drive from over two million people, it is easy to see why acquiring the land at the confluence has been a long term objective for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
Through cooperative efforts with several organizations and agencies the department was able to secure the land that makes up the park. An initial 253 acres was acquired through a donation by the Danforth Foundation of St. Louis through the River Network. Later, the Metropolitan Park and Recreation District (now The Great Rivers Greenway) in St. Louis leased 515 acres to the Department of Natural Resources to expand the park and funded the park road. A federal North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant, given to acquire, preserve and develop wetland ecosystems for waterfowl, other migratory birds, fish and wildlife, enabled the department to purchase an additional 350 acres, making the park 1,118 acres. The park is named after Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones, who donated money for the acquisition and development of Katy Trail State Park and have been supporters of the entire Missouri state park system.
The mission of Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park is to restore, preserve and interpret a quality, natural flood plain community that includes diverse flora and fauna while providing numerous recreational opportunities such as hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing. The park will also protect and interpret the unique cultural history of the area and provide excellent opportunities for researching both the natural processes and historical associations of the park's landscape.
Doug Eiken, Director, Division of State Parks, 10/30/05
Jane Lale, Director, Planning and Development Program, 9/22/05
Greg Combs, Field Operations Supervisor, Eastern Parks District, 09/07/05
Brian Stith, Field Operations Coordinator, St. Louis Area Office, 09/07/05
Dusty Reid, Park Superintendent, 09/06/05