TYSON VALLEY

A CHRONOLOGY

 

1941    U.S. government initiates condemnation proceedings against four property owners:

 

Tract l:             2,350 acres      Ranken Estate et al                 $70,500           1725/552

Tract 2:            134 acres         Henry J. Mincke et al              $3,6001           767/575

Tract 3:            73 acres           Delphine Hercules et al           $3,000             1772/365

Tract 4:            63 acres           John E. Holman, Jr. et al         $6,000             1834/170

Total                2,620 acres

 

Government uses property during war as "powder dump," to store and test ammunition.  "Complete water and sewage systems, 21 miles of all-weather roads, two stables, 52 igloos [concrete storage bunkers] and a number of other buildings, and a trail around the inside of the fence" were constructed, an investment of $3,194,000, according to the Post Dispatch.

 

1947    July 23: County counselor Erwin F. Vetter announces notification that the county's bid of $175,000 for the Tyson tract has been accepted by the War Assets Administration.

 

September 25: U.S. transfers a strip of land to State Highway Commission of Missouri for $3,500 (Book 2418/page 6).

 

September 26: U.S. Government signs memorandum transferring tract to St. Louis County, with certain conditions (Apparently never recorded and not found in county files, but referred to in 1950 deed, Book 2690/page 32).

 

1948    July 5: 12,000 people gather at park for the formal opening, but it is washed out by rain.  Park offers athletic fields, picnic areas including 50 barbeque pits, a dining room and lunch stands, a natural amphitheater, and hiking trails.  Saddle horses can be rented for trips on bridle paths.  County uses $19,531 from the road and bridge fund to make the first payment for property.

 

1949    October 5: Presiding Judge Luman F. Matthews announces reduction in purchase price to $76,081, based on Public Law 616, passed in 1948.

 

December 22: Eight St. Louis county residents donate $22,000 to meet county's annual payment.

 

1950    June 19: A group of citizens advances county $29,000 at 2.5% to pay off federal 4% mortgage on park.

 

June 23: 2,620 acres are conveyed by quit-claim deed from the United States of America, through the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation, to the County of St. Louis, for $76,081.25 (Book 2690/page 32). At a ceremony dedicating the tract, Luman Matthews and Mrs. A. J. Krueger, president of the Henry Shaw Gardenway Association, unveil a large plaque at the main entrance: "TYSON VALLEY PARK, DEDICATED JULY 23, 1950 AS A PERPETUAL PUBLIC PARK BY THE ST. LOUIS COUNTY COURT."

 

1951    March 29: Luman Matthews receives a letter from the Department of the Army notifying the county of the government's intent to reclaim the park.  "The tract will still be owned by the county ... and the Federal Government will pay a rental on the tract while it is used.  It will eventually revert back to the county" the Post-Dispatch reports.

 

September 5: The Department of the Army takes possession of the park.

From annual report of Parks Advisory Board: "In view of the fact that the St. Louis Ordnance Plant at Goodfellow Avenue, in St. Louis, is being reactivated, the U.S. Ordnance Department exercised its right of re-entry into the fenced area of Tyson Valley Park in accordance with the terms of the deed.  This right of re-entry is exercisable only during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress of the United States.  Since President Harry S. Truman did so declare such an emergency, the Federal Government had the right to re-enter the area, which it did....  Only the future can tell when the government will surrender this park again to the County.... West of the fenced area there are about 200 acres which we have called West Tyson Park."

 

1952    St. Louis County budgeted $8,200 as a payment on property; $6,000 for "the construction of a cheap road into that part of the park which is outside of the fence and which is not being used by the Army.  The purpose is merely to keep a part of the area going as a park so as to insure the ultimate return of the entire area for park purposes."

 

1953    St. Louis County appropriated $26,450, including $8,000 annual payment.

 

1954    $8,000 appropriated by St. Louis County.

 

July 16: The House Armed Services Committee yesterday approves outright repurchase (as opposed to lease arrangement) by the Army of Tyson Valley Powder Farm for testing small arms ammunition and storing gunpowder.

 

September 4: The Senate Armed Services Real Estate Subcommittee approves repurchase.

 

1955    From budget request: "In view of the more or less static situation at Tyson Valley at this time, and the fact that the last payment has now been made and since there are no interest or other charges, there is no request for any money for Tyson Valley Park for 1955."

March 30: Ordinance No. 680 authorized the sale of 2,371.70 acres ("2420 acres more or less") for $74,448.24, retaining an easement.  This deed was not executed until January 16, 1956 (Book 3544, page 463 and following).

 

June 2: United States of America, acting through the Director of the National Park Service, releases the 200 acres of West Tyson Park to St. Louis County.  Most restrictions in deed of June 23, 1950 still apply (Book 3447, page 249).

 

1958    July: The Army approves the lease of wartime property, if tenants can be found. "The Army Ordnance Plant [on Goodfellow], the [Scullin] steel foundry, and the powder farm [at Tyson Valley] have been on a deactivated basis for several months."

 

1961    July 20: The Army says that it will be ready to dispose of the Tyson Valley tract by the end of August.  "The Army told U.S. Senator Symington there is nothing in its deed that would give the county a special priority for repurchase.  However, the surplus law will give the county a crack at buying the land ahead of any private interests."

 

September 28: Parks Advisory Board Meeting: "The possibility of Tyson Park being declared surplus by the Federal Government was brought to the attention of the Members by Mr. Crossen.  Mr. Skow [the Park Commissioner] reported that he and Supervisor [James] McNary had discussed this matter and were waiting for a definite announcement from the General Services Administration of the availability of this land as surplus to St. Louis County."

 

1962    March 1: Parks Advisory Board Meeting: "Mr. Kennedy [Acting Commissioner], said he planned, together with Mr. McNary, to confer with General Services Administration office in Kansas City on March 1, to pursue the Tyson Valley Area project."

 

August 2: Parks Advisory Board Meeting: ". . . the General Services Administration had sent representatives here to conduct a joint meeting between the officials of the County Park Department and Washington University, since their applications were the only two now under consideration. The governmental agency has requested that the Park Department and the University make an effort to divide the proposed area between their several interests and to their mutual satisfaction. Mr. Kennedy revealed that Washington University had thus far offered only a narrow strip of ridge and hollow area adjacent to our present West Tyson Park, totally inaccessible except by foot paths. We had made a counter proposal to yield the entire central valley if we could acquire the eastern slope meadow land. Further decision and action now lies with the Federal Agency."

 

October 11: Parks Advisory Board Meeting: "Mr. Kennedy outlined on a map of the area a section of some 400 acres in extent which Washington University had tentatively agreed to compromise its application for, an area of heavily wooded ridges and ravine, inaccessible except by foot path, and which is contiguous to the present County property designated as West Tyson....  As an alternate compromise, Mr. Kennedy has asked that Washington University consider the possibility of relinquishing an area of some 400 acres to the east of the main valley, where some rolling ground and a potential lake site could be developed most advantageously for a park site.  Washington University, in their application, has apparently stressed the necessity of their acquiring the entire tract in order to conduct research projects for their many schools, and they have strongly contended that they require all of the ground available, with the exception of the wilderness ridges previously described.... Perhaps five hundred thousand dollars would be asked for the entire tract of some 2300 acres.  [Herman F. Wagner, County Planning Director] stated ... taking the larger view of the total needs of St. Louis County, it might be more suitable to permit this ground to go for the purposes of Washington University as a significant factor to the economic growth of the County. Mr. [Leroy] Kling made the motion, which was seconded by Mr. [Robert] Karmi, that should Washington University decide that it could not relinquish the 400 acre section which is sought by the County Park Department without curtailment of its program for research work, the Advisory Board deems it of vital interest to the County welfare to abandon the Department's application for any of this surplus tract.  All Members then present voted in favor of this motion."

 

October 26: Washington University submits to the General Services Administration a 91-page plan for "intensive development of the Tyson Valley tract" devoted to "highest priority scientific, medical, and technological" studies.  "Utilization of all areas of the tract will begin within 12 to 18 months after the effective date of transfer."

 

November 1: St. Louis County submits to the General Services Administration a plan for park and recreational use of the 400-acre east Tyson Valley tract.

 

November 13: Parks Advisory Board meeting: "Mr. Kennedy reported that he had met with several representatives from Washington University at the request of the Federal Agency Authority, in an effort to effect a compromise, and they had agreed tentatively on a mutually acceptable division of the land....  Mr. Kennedy expressed his satisfaction with this outcome of the negotiations, believing that this is the most desirable part of the property for park purposes . . . ."

 

1963    August 6: The General Services Administration approves Washington University's application for about 2,000 acres of Tyson Valley.  "We believe that the Washington University Research Center will be a most significant means by which the scientific and technical development of the Midwest can be greatly accelerated," Provost George E. Pake writes Senator Symington.  Symington praises the GSA for "recognizing the importance of the research center to the St. Louis area and the state."

September 3: St. Louis County submits to the General Services Administration a revised application for use of the east 405 acres of the Tyson Valley tract.

 

October 2: The United States, acting through the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, quit-claims to Washington University 1966.46 acres (mistakenly listed in some county records as 1961.91 acres). The fair market value of the property is set at $1,004,000, but the grantee is given a public benefit allowance of 100%. Restrictions require the property to be utilized continuously for educational purposes for twenty years (Book 5211/page 177).

 

October 4: The Stupp Brothers Bridge and Iron Company Foundation gives Washington University $500,000 to launch development of the new research center at Tyson Valley.

 

November 4: St. Louis County receives approval of its revised application. "Recreation facilities to be, developed at the park include a winter sports area with sled and toboggan slides and a ski slope, a riding stable, a group camp area and a field archery range. These facilities are at least two years away, Mr. Kennedy said."

 

1964    February 3: The United States, acting through the Administrator of General Services, quit-claims to St. Louis County 405.24 acres for $60,787.50 (Book 5300/page 35). Restrictions, including biennial reports, apply for twenty years.