Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The `Canoe Capital' of Eminence, Mo

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The `Canoe Capital' of Eminence, Mo

Article excerpt

EMINENCE is a town so small it surprises all who haven't been there to discover that it's home to one of the most famous former high school principals in the world - a fact duly noted on a sign at the city's edge.

He is astronaut Tom Akers, who flew aboard the space shuttle Discovery in October 1990, but who is better known as part of the astronaut team that did repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993.

Eminence has other Akers, too; Tom's brother runs a harness shop, and there is an Akers Ferry.

Situated on the bank of the Jacks Fork, Eminence gets a lot of visitors, according to Lynette Peters and her husband, Alan. Lynette operates River's Edge Inn; her husband is manager of a communications company. Alan volunteers to drive me around Eminence and explain its attractions - the major ones being the river and the beautiful Alley Spring Grist Mill.

Founded in 1868, Eminence lies 75 miles south of Interstate 44 and 12 miles north of U.S. Highway 60 on Missouri Highway 19. The scenic highway is especially fetching at dogwood time - late April, early May - or during autumn, when the area often features spectacular leaf displays.

Calling itself "the canoe capital of the world," Eminence features pack trips, hiking, biking and excellent bird-watching to go with its fishing. Bluegrass festivals and the Fall Arts Festival round things out.

"One thing not generally known," says Alan Peters, guiding his four-wheel-drive pickup down a forested riverbank road, "is that we've got wild horses here" - the only wild horse herd within 1,500 miles.

Only about 30 of the animals still roam freely along the Jacks Fork and Current rivers. The National Park Service wanted to round up and remove the herd, saying it caused damage to the park, but locals banded together, fought it, and Congress passed a special bill to save the horses. As part of that measure, the Missouri Wild Horse League, a private group of volunteers, has agreed to take care of the horses' medical needs and keep the size of the herd at 50 or fewer. …

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