For the past week, except for a brief hiatus due to extreme cold, city crews have been installing a wrought iron fence at the entrance to the Jensen’s Point Park hillside lookout.
When it is completed, the existing chain-link fence will be removed.
The new handmade fence was designed to capture the 1930s era of the Route 66 waystop and transform the hillside into a substantial public space, said Harry Engelhart, who built each of the fence sections in one of the largest volunteer projects in Pacific history.
Over the past winter, Engelhart, a local grower, auctioneer and blacksmith, hand assembled and welded each one of the sections that will eventually create 450 feet of fencing at the lower and upper levels of the park.
On the upper level, a section of wrought iron fence will line the level ground at the edge of the patio to keep visitors a safe distance from the 70-foot drop-off.
The city purchased the landmark park, which is very near the entrance of the city, in March 2014 with a grant from the St. Louis County municipal parks grant program.
The Ozark Trail Association joined local volunteers to cut away and remove scrub and unwanted vegetation to open up the overgrown hillside.
The city constructed a paved parking lot at the base of the hill and repaired the stone steps and some of the stone patios and walls in preparation for an opening on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016.
The original grand opening of the waystop was a never-to-be-forgotten event held on Memorial Day 1939 when public figures and schoolchildren from surrounding communities gathered for the opening of the landmark.
Engelhart says his love of Jensen’s Point dates back to his grandfather, Harry Engelhart I, who knew Lars Peter Jensen for whom the park is named.
Jensen managed the Shaw Arboretum, now Shaw Nature Reserve, which borders the Engelhart farm. He was a horticulturist for Shaw’s Garden in St. Louis and designed the Shaw Gardenway as a drive between the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Arboretum.
The Lookout was meant as a tourist stop along the gardenway.
“My grandfather and Lars Jensen traded plants back and forth and my grandfather helped to build a lot of the buildings on the (Nature Reserve) farm,” Engelhart said. “The CCC camp built the stone lookout at Jensen’s Point but grandpa was in on the project from the first day. It was meant as a place for people driving along Route 66 to stop and look out over the Meramec River and the countryside.”