JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. — Civic leaders are finding new money to help support the old Jefferson County town of Kimmswick. Leaders and merchants there are working to put the river town back on the map.
The ropes around bollards on the dock at Port Kimmswick may be helping hold the town together. About 90 passengers on board the American Countess riverboat got off the boat, onto buses, Friday morning, and made their way into town to mix it up with merchants.
Jim Shelby is a riverboat passenger from California. He boarded the Countess in Memphis and is about halfway finished with a two-week cruise.
“What a great town,” said Shelby. “We can't wait. So awesome. So welcoming, it's very exciting.”
Passenger Marilyn Ter Maat said, “It’s probably the smallest town we’ve been in. We don’t know, we’ve never been here.”
Eventually, tour buses would transport riverboat passengers to the Burgess-How House and other stores, restaurants, and historical sites in Kimmswick.
Elizabeth How-Duggan said, “We’re hoping we can greet the passengers as they come in today and be part of our heritage.”
It’s all made possible because of the new $1.3 million dock, which features bollards that help hold riverboats in place.
Neal Breitweiser is executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority.
“Those bollards are piled into bedrock and filled with concrete,” said Breitweiser. “These piers are large enough to hold the American Queen, which is the largest known riverboat in America.”
Kimmswick Mayor Phil Stang says annual the strawberry and apple butter festivals were hurt here by flooding and COVID in recent years, and the riverboats are part of the comeback plan.
“This year we’ll have one more stop in October,” said Stang. “and then going into next year and years on we’ll probably host one riverboat a month.”
Kimmswick Historical Society officials say their strawberry festival, in June, was very successful this year, and the apple butter festival is scheduled for October 30-31.