A St. Louis native, Jim Merkel is the author of four books about the Gateway City for Reedy Press. They are Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis’s South Side; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: German-Americans in St. Louis; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built The Gateway Arch. and The Colorful Characters of St. Louis. He’s also self-published a novel and a travel book about the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior.
Merkel is part of a family of German piano craftsmen who moved to St. Louis in 1858. He grew up in Des Peres and Webster Groves and graduated from Webster Groves High School. He attended the (then) Meramec Community College before he transferred to the University of Missouri-Columbia and graduated in 1973.
In 1975, Merkel moved to rural Pennsylvania, where he worked for newspapers and freelanced for outlets like the United States Information Agency, The New York Times, Pennsylvania magazine and Grit.
He returned to St. Louis in 1991 and, where he went to work for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. Before the Journals laid him off in 2013, he covered St. Louis City Hall, the St. Louis County Council, the 1993 floods, Granite City, Ill. and Columbia, Ill. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of St. Louis.