Friday, July 26, 2013

Hartsburg, MO

Day 69: Friday, July 26, 2013
New Franklin to Hartsburg: 37 miles

At the Katy Roundhouse campground, the rain began some time around 4 am. When it came time to get up, it was still raining. I turned over and went back to sleep. An hour or two later, and it was still coming down. Given the choice of riding in the rain or staying at a campground with no restroom and no food supply, I decided to face the music.

By the time I packed the soggy tent and left, the rain had eased. But the trail was soaked. The crushed limestone is pretty pervious, so there was not a great deal of standing water. But it didn't take long to develop a stripe on my sleeping bag and clog up the fenders and brakes. I stopped several times during the day to attack the accumulation with a sharp stick.

gritty stoker
The stoker did not appreciate his back-seat position today.

The trail eastbound from New Franklin follows the course of the Missouri River, generally with high bluffs immediately to the left and the Missouri River immediately to the right. Where the river meanders to the other side of its floodplain, there are rich bottomlands adjacent to the trail, most of which are farmed (primarily corn and soybeans) and are protected by a network of dikes, some of which create bumps in the trail, as they were constructed after the Katy RR ceased operation.

bluffs to the left
Bluffs to the left...

river to the right
...river to the right

tiled grain elevator
This is the only tiled grain elevator I've ever seen.

There's only one tunnel on the trail, a couple hundred feet long, passing through a projecting ridge that looks to be no more than sixty feet high.

Katy tunnel
The sole Katy tunnel, just before Rocheport

boxcar B&B
This boxcar was put to good use as a B&B.

The town of Rocheport, large enough to have its own depot but now with a population of only 200 or so, makes a good lunch stop - and it's a good place to spend the day, if you have the time. Some of the town's buildings date back to 1830. Its main industry is antique shops, and - if you want to spend the night - there are several B&Bs. At the Trailside Cafe, a combo bike-rental/cafe near the depot, I was served a tasty Philly cheesesteak sandwich with fries. Rocheport is the home of William Least Heat-Moon, the author of Blue Highways. I suppose you could call him one of the patron saints of blogs like this.

Hartsburg, my destination for the day, is an even smaller town that is also wedged between the bluffs and the bottomlands of the river. The city park (which seems to be in someone's yard) is right next to the trail, and the downtown eating establishments are about ten seconds away by bike. When I pulled in to the park, a few townspeople were pulling out their instruments for a bluegrass practice session. They gave me the rundown on the town's eating establishments, and I wandered off in search of sustenance.

One of the local boys moved away to the big city, met and ended up marrying a girl who was studying the culinary arts. They came back to Hartsburg and opened the Hartsburg Grand, a friendly place in a historic building that serves excellent food. I enjoyed a very good meal there, and they graciously let me blog away while I sat at the bar.

After supper, I set up my tent while listening to the tail end of the bluegrass session, and I quickly moved it to the shelter of the gazebo when the rain picked up again. This being a Friday night, the local bar was busy, and it was somewhere around 2 am before the conviviality waned and I drifted off to sleep.

Hartsburg gazebo camping
Camping in the gazebo in the Hartsburg town park

end of a damp day
The end of a damp day


  1. Bret... can't help but holler. My sister and I stayed in that very boxcar last year!

    1. So - how much of the Katy Trail did you ride, and what else did you do?

  2. We only rented bikes from the place you mentioned above. We were on our way -by car- between visits with two of my elderly aunts who I loved a great deal. We've lost one of them.... the other lives in Warrenton, MO. My sister and I always wanted to stay in Rocheport. I keep trying to talk Becky into riding the Katy. Stay safe... love the blog


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