I was quite lucky to have some time off from work a few weeks ago, so Silverstreak and I decided to make the trek to Mt. Ararat in Eastern Turkey to see if we could find any remains of the biblical Noah's Ark which is commonly thought to have landed there after the Great Flood. Unfortunately, the Turkish government wouldn't cooperate with our expedition, so we were forced to return home without even attempting to find the Ark.
In a strange twist of fate, it turns out that Noah's Ark did not land on Mt. Ararat as the Bible hints, but actually landed just off of the Missouri River in St. Charles, where it apparently had the perfect atmosphere for a resteraunt and until a few years ago was famous for having the best food in the St. Louis metro area (other than Eat Rite).
It wasn't terribly difficult to find, what with the plaster animals right next to the highway, and because it is attached to the Noah's Ark Best Western Hotel. Considering how much the thought of eating a meal in a boat that at one time must have certainly been full of animal poo makes my mouth water, it is strange that the resteraunt closed down a number of years ago. The Ark itself remains empty as does most of the hotel, aside from the first floor which is serving as office space for the Show-Me Aquatics company.
Silverstreak and I made our way into the interior of the Ark, which in many places is completely in ruins. There were a few glasses still hanging from the fixtures in the bar area, but most everything else is either broken or missing. This site is unique for me because it is one that I actually visited as a child when it was open. Most of the places I explore I was never able to see during their heyday. I remember eating there while looking at a large display case at one end where scene from the Bible tale of the Ark had been recreated in a sort of museum of history way. The case/scene is still there, although the animals and scenery are now gone.
The upstairs was much more interesting, with another lounge style bar, dance floor, and piano still remaining. From this floor we were able to reach the bow of the boat, where we had an excellent view of the St. Charles skyline (quite impressive, let me tell you). Silverstreak seemed to recall that after the Ark had closed as a restaraunt, it remained open for awhile as a bar called Tony's. We actually found the flourescent sign from that time upstairs, and after examining it realized that it must actually been called "Captain Tony's." The bathrooms also had some of the coolest wallpaper I have ever seen. It was so cool, in fact, that I really hope that when I get married some day, my wife will allow me to have similar wallpaper in our bathrooms. Nothing helps me to urinate better than thinking that I am being watched by multiple lions.
As we were leaving, we decided to check out the hotel. I knew that it was in use by an aquatics company, but we felt like walking around anyway. In the back parking lot, we found an old van painted as a zebra to represent the restaraunt/hotel. Man, would I love to find the owner of that van and make him an offer! It looked as though no one was driving it, since the plates expired in 2005.
The plan, as I understand it, is to tear down the hotel and restaraunt to make room for come condos, a movie theatre, an outside skating rink, and a water therapy center for the aquatics company. Who knows if and when that will happen. I do know that there is going to be a battle of the bands on the property soon, so you should all come out for that. It also appears that the St. Charles fire fighters are putting on their "Haunted Hotel" there again this halloween, but I would skip that because I heard it was pretty weak.
It will be sad to see the Ark go. It's been a landmark in St. Charles for years, and one that I remember from my childhood. Unfortunately, because of the shape of the Ark, restoring it might be too costly. You can see some pictures of the site when it was operating at this site: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tips/getAttraction.php3?tip_AttractionNo==769
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