Missouri's newest state park is about to open at the confluence of the nation's two largest rivers, providing first-ever public access to a point some consider the "most important spot on the continent."
The 1,100-acre Edward "Ted" and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park, to be dedicated by Gov. Bob Holden on May 9, is in St. Charles County where the Missouri River flows into the Mississippi.
Until now, it was only possible to view the confluence across the Missouri River on the St. Louis County side at the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area.
"For organizations involved in rivers, this is the most important spot on the continent, where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers meet," said Phil Wallin, president of the Western Rivers Conservancy and former head of the River Network, which worked with several organizations to acquire the land for the park.
"It's always been an embarrassment to St. Louis that tourists came from Germany and Japan, and they wanted to stand on the point where these two rivers came together, and they couldn't go there," Wallin said. "It was private land."
Confluence State Park, off Highway 67 at West Alton, is meant for day visitors and will not have boating access or camping. Most of the former farmland will be left alone and allowed to return to wetland.