Fun Facts About the Arch

Let’s Celebrate!

As we celebrate the opening of the reconfigured Gateway Arch grounds, museum and visitor center, it’s a good time to think about some of the odd, weird and fun facts about our town’s treasure. Here’s a few of them, along with the pages where you’ll find out more in The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition.

51) Eero Saarinen's Amazing Weather Machine-GS
Eero Saarinen’s Amazing Weather Machine 
  • An enduring urban legend holds that bad storms veer away from St. Louis because of an “Arch Effect.” Supposedly, an iconic pulse in the icon’s legs, originally developed for a doomsday weather weapon against the Nazis, nudges the storms away. (Pages 176-177)
  • The Missouri Secretary of State’s online database of corporate names lists more than 4,600 corporations, past and present, whose name includes the name “Arch”  or “Gateway.” There is no list of businesses with different names that include a figure of the Arch in their logo, but there surely are many of them. (Page 170-172.)
  • When a small plane flew through the legs of the Arch less than nine months after it was topped out, the Federal Aviation Administration promised it would punish the offending pilot most severely after they caught him. It never did. Then in 2016, Donna Dorris of Madison, Il. went to the Post-Dispatch and said her late father Earl Bolin made the fly-through on June 22, 1966. That was the first of 11 confirmed fly-throughs from 1966 to 1984. (Pages 165-167)
  • The company that sent a team of building climbers down the Arch to check out unsightly stains and smudges on the surface offered a list of low-tech products to clean the icon. They include Zud Heavy Duty Cleanser, Avesta Cleaner 401, Barkeeper’s Friend and Scotchbrite Lite Duty Cleaning Pad. (Pages 202-207)
    How to Clean the Arch (Top and middle pictures by Bryan Werner)

    To find the whole story of the Arch, you can buy The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and The Hard Hat Who Built The Gateway Arch, 2nd Edition here.  


Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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