FARMINGTON, Missouri – Crossed into Missouri last week Thursday, June 16.
Since beginning the tour May 18 I’ve collected about 1,600 miles, crossed Texas and Arkansas, experienced one flat tire, one broken spoke, one really-bad dog chase, saved one snapping turtle, suffered zero saddle sores, and cobbled together some totally awesome adventures.
I can tell I’m not in the smooth south anymore as roads in Texas and Arkansas were pretty flatulent.
That means the road is really flat, right?
Exiting Poplar Bluff, MO and heading north there’s a lot more up-down, primarily because I’m at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.
Crossing through the beautiful Mark Twain National Forest on Highway 67 I pull into the small town of Farmington, MO. It is much like the Farmington in Washington County (Wisconsin) as both are bisected by a Highway H and both have that small, country feel as several homes had red, white, and blue bunting decorating the front porch. There’s the Farmington Press Daily Journal, the County Mart grocery and the Farmington city pool is across the road from a pasture full of cows.
One of the impressive things about Farmington, MO is the old St. Francois County Jail. It’s not like the famed Fillmore Turner Hall, but carries just as much history. Built in 1870, the jail is on the national historic register. On the north side of the building a plaque details The Jailbreak of 1932 when 31 prisoners huddled in the back of their cell as nine sticks of dynamite were used to blow a hole in the north wall. Five prisoners fled and were later recaptured, one was shot and another was shot and killed while climbing a fence that surrounded the jail. In the aftermath, the steel window that weighed 14 pounds was found two blocks away on top of the high school. In 1996 the jail was closed and years later the upstairs converted into a hostel for bicyclists. It’s called Al’s Place, in honor of Al Dziewa – an avid, local bicyclist who lost his battle with cancer in 2005. (See photo in prior post.)
The upstairs of the old jail was formerly the sheriff’s residence; the hostel retains much of the original architecture with thick wood beams running the length of the ceiling, exposed red brick and round windows. The city remodeled and upgraded the interior adding three bedrooms with seven bunk beds, two full bathrooms, air conditioning, a complete kitchen and a couple areas to relax on leather couches and watch TV or check the Internet. There’s also a laundry room and enclosed space on the lower level to safely store bicycles.
Many cyclists on the TransAmerican Trail, traveling east-west stop at the $20-a-night hostel. I just happened upon it via word of mouth and ended up spending the day.