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Indian Camp Creek Park,
St. Charles County, Mo.

by Bonnie Roy, RLA, APA, SWT Design, St. Louis

Indian Camp Creek is a 582-acre county park in St. Charles County, Mo., situated at the confluence of two major creeks in the Cuivre River watershed. Imagine coming across a four-ft. frog! That's the size of the cast-concrete frog sculptures (Cassilly & Cassilly). The bronze critters integrated along the streambed include crawdads, turtles, frogs, salamander and a snake.
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Indian Camp Creek is a 582-acre county park situated at the confluence of two major creeks in the Cuivre River watershed. The park design embraces the area's abundant and significant natural, cultural and historic assets, celebrating and blending a host of passive and active recreation amenities to create one of the county's premier parks.

At the main entry a special gateway design reflects the natural character of the park. The gates are custom cut steel and painted. The stone sign in the flowerbed is framed by 20-ft. site-harvested eastern red cedars mounted on dry-stacked Missouri native ledge rock. Plantings in the median include Missouri black-eyed Susan, purple coneflower, switchgrass, prairie dropseed and deciduous holly.

Purpose and Program

The purpose of the park development was to bring the people of St. Charles County additional amenities unique to the park system. Goals during the development included the enhancement of the area's historical and natural heritage, the preservation of open space and the creation of a recreation facility to nurture healthy lifestyles, while being sensitive to the client's budget.

The Eco-Playground play structure comprises a wood clatter bridge connected to the pavilion pad. Other elements are the Loop Climber, Chain Cargo Net Climber and Chute Slide with Enclosure. The play surface is engineered wood fibar mulch. The retaining wall is native Missouri weathered limestone ledge rock.

The park programming includes recreation, preservation, interpretive and supportive amenities. Recreation amenities include playgrounds, picnic pavilions, multi-use trails, a day-use equestrian facility, gathering and camping areas for youth groups and a fishing area.

The park restrooms have composting toilets. The building, fixtures and decking are by Advanced Composting Systems. Their rugged architectural flare blends into the park's landscape. Some units are solar powered; others are hard-wired, depending on their location within the park. Rainwater collected from the roof is used for hand washing.

Areas dedicated to the preservation of a rare sedge meadow, wooded wetlands and mesic prairie were created. Interpretive opportunities were programmed to educate park users about the Mississippian Indians who once inhabited the land and about the family who had farmed the property for generations. Finally, a supportive infrastructure was necessary to keep the park functioning, including a maintenance facility, compostable toilets, parking, a bridge crossing and a formal entrance "announcing" the park.

The Indian Camp Creek Eco-Playground uses natural materials and ecologically-themed amenities to encourage children to interact with the natural environment. The 22-ft. tall aluminum windmill is mounted on a derrick with a custom wooden skirt. A smaller version was also constructed to support the plumbing and spigot for the water feature.

Role of the Landscape Architect

SWT Design led the design team and managed the project, acting as the liaison to the client and the community, guiding the team throughout the extensive master planning, including data collection, analysis and environmental assessment. The identification of existing eco-zones was significant to the project and served as the framework for preservation of the property. Coordination with the Army Corp of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Conservation were critical to the sustainability of the existing ecosystems and integration of the recreation amenities. After completion of the final master plan, SWT Design led a multidisciplinary team through the development of construction documents that included infrastructure, architectural features, road and trail construction, pond development, stream and habitat enhancement, playground construction and landscape design.

The pavilion (Polygon) has custom wood-wrapped posts milled to fit columns with a local Missouri limestone veneer base. The tables and benches are by Dumor Site Furnishings.

SWT Design has also assisted the county through each phase of implementation.

The longer eco-playground slide is nestled into the topography and surrounded by plantings of gro-low sumac, prairie dropseed, red twig dogwood, serviceberry, hypericum, and switchgrass.

Special Factors, Significance

Indian Camp Creek is significant for several reasons. It is the largest park managed by the St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department and is the first park in the system with a day-use equestrian facility.

Some of us grew up playing in streams, making dams and generally getting muddy. The next generation of dam builders is at work. This water play area has a river gravel mix on the ground, so limited mud here.

The park has an abundance of Native American artifacts on site, not surprising considering the location is at the juncture of two major creeks used by the Mississippian Indians for trading and travel. The Mississippians inhabited the land 10,000 years ago. As with all Native American tribes, frontier settlers began to settle on their lands and displace them. During the design of the park, special attention was paid to this historical heritage. The design team wanted to preserve and enhance the landscape, but also telling the stories of the land and the people who had lived there.

The restored grain silo has poured-in-place concrete walls. Existing portals were closed and new windows relocated to provide ventilation and views. The spiral staircase and observation platform are custom fabricated galvanized steel. The standing seam metal roof and screens were custom fit to allow for an observation deck at the top of the silo for expansive views of the park landscape.

Because the site is at the intersection of two major creeks, various wetland communities developed. Wooded wetlands, mesic prairies and a rare sedge meadow evolved. The site is environmentally significant because it is home to one of the state's only undisturbed sedge meadows. The design team celebrated the beautiful environments, healed the damage left by centuries of farming and other land planning, illustrated the depth of the site's ecologies, and improved upon them for future generations of the community.

The boardwalks and overlooks provide special vantage points for the creeks and lake. This custom designed boardwalk is constructed of treated wood, with steel railings from Omega Fencing. The boardwalks meander over and through the manmade lake and wet mesic prairies. Mesic prairie indicates native grasslands dominated by big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans).

Indian Camp Creek Park Team

St. Charles County Parks and Recreation Department
Bettie Yahn-Kramer, Director
Park Board Members

Landscape Architects:
SWT Design Team
Ted Spaid, Principal Designer
Jim Wolterman, Principal
Carrie Coyne, Landscape Designer
Peter Bobe, Landscape Designer

In the heart of the park, adjacent to the Eco-Playground, is a six-acre lake built for recreation and education. The lake supports a diversity of habitats for aquatic plants and animals and is integrated into the natural landscape experience by surrounding boardwalks. The lake is stocked with bluegill, bass, and catfish. Fishing within the park is catch-and-release only and is governed by the regulations of the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Architecture: Blaes Architects

Civil Engineering: Farnsworth Group

Contractors and Construction Managers:
Kozeny Wagner (Phase I)
Frederich Construction (Phase II)

SWT Design consciously considered environmental impacts while planning the roadways and basic infrastructure facilities. The winding roadways capture picturesque views and an enjoyable drive.

Ecological Services:
Controlled Prairie Burn and Prairie Restoration: Jon Wingo, DJM

Bronze Critters: West County Forge

Metal Sculpture:
Bugs on Sticks: Midwest Architectural: Ted Stegeman
Cast Concrete Frogs: Cassilly Studios

Reese Recreation
Engineered Fibar Surfacing
Timberform Play Stuctures: Playground Equipment
DuMor(R) Site Furnishings
Poligon Park Architecture, Large Central Pavilion
(Custom Features were designed by SWT Design)
Litchfield Landscape Elements, Park Shelters

The "ghost structure" with its working fireplace mimics the original size and character of the cabin that was on this very spot, but was beyond repair and preservation. Materials include a Missouri limestone veneer, galvanized steel beams and a concrete floor with timber impressions. The other historic homestead features are the grain silo, pump house and the cemetery.

Pre-Fabricated Bridge: Contech Construction Products,
Steadfast Bridge

Fence/Rail System in Custom Boardwalk: Omega Fencing

Composting Toilet System: Advanced Composting Systems, LLC, Phoenix

A 10-mile network of pedestrian, equestrian and biking trails link all the activity areas and the far-reaching natural areas of the park.

The "soft" trails--hiking, biking, equestrian--were laid out and constructed by the county parks department, with the help of a local mountain biking club.

Animal tracks and botanical imprints can be followed throughout the park on many of the pedestrian paths. Concrete stamped animal tracks include deer, raccoon, snake, duck, turkey and wolf. Plant imprints are fern, oak and sycamore leaves. Fossil imprints (Fossilcrete) include trilobites (meaning "tree lobes") and ammonites, the precursors of the octopus, plus squid
and cuttlefish.

A controlled prairie burn was prescribed to promote native vegetation and prepare the site for additional management practices.

Interpretive opportunities were programmed to educate park users about both the Mississippian Indians who once inhabited the land and the Cannon family who farmed the property for generations. The design preserved and enhanced the cultural heritage of the land and its settlers in an abstract celebration of their log cabin, grain silo and the preservation of the family cemetery.

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October 20, 2019, 8:20 pm PDT

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