ON THE PIKE
Below is a description of the wonders of the Pike taken directly
from promotional booklets in my collection. Some of the references
are a bit obscure, but I've expanded a little on those I could
find information on.
"In the limited space we have to tour the different scenes
and places of entertainment on the Pike it is impossible to give
more than a passing notice. The most of them are refined and instructive.
After visiting them you can feel that you have had quite an experience
in foreign travel and know considerable about the customs of foreigners
in their own countries.
"The pike is a mile in length, extending along the northeast
corner of the grounds. Nowhere before has so much money been invested
in similar enterprises; nowhere have buildings been so elaborate;
nowhere, it is believed, has there been such care taken to exclude
everything that was unworthy.
"The Tyrolean Alps is an extensive and
costly representation of the most majestic Alpine scenery, with
inhabitants in native costume, a village of the Tyrol, singers,
etc. It occupies ten acres, and is said to have cost $500,000.
"Mysterious Asia is a representation of the most magnificent
temples and other buildings of the far and unknown East. Dromedaries,
elephants, sacred bulls, and water buffaloes take part in processions
with hundreds of natives. Oriental sports and pastimes are presented,
and there are theaters, museums, bazaars, etc.
"The Magic Whirlpool consists of a circular waterfall sixty
feet in diameter and forty feet high, under which the visitor
is drawn in a boat, plunges to the bottom, passes through a tunnel
in which are the most blood-curdling effects, enters a seething
maelstrom, where lightning flashes, thunder rolls, winds howl,
and the victim escapes alive and unhurt.
"An Irish Village reproduces the most charming bits of the
Emerald Isle, and is entered through Blarney Castle, where an
Irish jaunting car takes the tourist onward.
"A Trip to Paris is made on an expensive reproduction of the
ocean steamship St. Louis. Return is by air ship. Paris, Ancient
and Modern, shows scenes of the revolution, with the guillotine
and the Bastile (sic); and the Paris of the Boulevards, a carnival,
"The Streets of Seville show life in the famous Spanish city;
there will be a Ceylon Tea Garden; Land of the Midnight Sun; a
Trip through Siberia; a graphic representation of the Galveston
Flood; trips from New York to the North Pole will be of hourly
occurrence; the Streets of Cairo will surpass all former efforts
in that line; a Fire Fighting Exhibit will show how the perils
of conflagration are met and conquered by the latest machinery;
the Cliff Dwellers are once more to have
an inning; the Battle Abbey will give cycloramic representations
of famous American battles; there will be Lapland and Esquimaux (sic) villages
inhabited by natives; the wonders of Liquid Air, and the marvels
of Wireless Telegraphy will be shown; Deep Sea Divers will be
observed in a huge glass tank of filtered water; Hagenbeck's Trained Animal Show
will be there; a Naval Exhibit will show the navy in miniature;
and Creation will unfold the mysteries
of the past."
"One of the largest and artistically most meritorious
of these reproductions [ of foreign locals ] is that known as
the Tyrolean Alps, in which a really
very beautiful reproduction of the snow-capped masses of the Ortler,
with the wild and rugged Zugspitze, cast their shadow over lower
foothills that represent in wonderfully realistic manner the scenery
of the Alps. With this mountain scenery to act as background,
massive castles with lofty gray towers and embattled walls range
themselves in close proximity to small Swiss houses with their
arbors, gables, and towerlets, while near by is a Tyrolese Council
hall built to full size. On the verandas and terraces are to be
seen groups of peasants, singing their native songs as they pursue
the tasks of their daily life."
--Scientific American, August 13, 1904
In addition to the Tyrolean musicians, yodelers, and mountain
scenery the Tyrolean Alps featured the St. Louis Inn. A faithful
copy of a famous inn in the Tyrolean Alps, the St. Louis Inn was
considered the finest hostelry at the fair. When President Theodore
Roosevelt visited the fair he was banqueted at the inn, of course.
Both the President and less distinguished patrons were entertained
nightly while they dined by a young lariat-wielding comedian named
The Cliff Dwellers reproduced the
pueblos of the Mokis and Zunis of the Painted Desert in Arizona,
and brought in a large number of members of those tribes to inhabit
them. They were "seen daily engaged in the arts of peace,"
as the Scientific American of Nov 12, 1904 phrased it. This included
rug weaving, beadwork, the weaving of hammocks, the sewing of
moccasins and clothing, and the making of silver jewelry. One
of the favorite events at the exhibit was the daily performance
of the Moki snake dance. Prior to the fair, the tribe had never
performed the snake dance outside of their homeland, and it was
only 7 years before the fair that the dance was first witnessed
One of the more popular exhibits on the Pike was Hagenbeck's Animals,
which featured both trained and wild animals. There were continuous
trained animal performances daily (except on Sundays when the
Fair wasn't open) from noon till the Pike closed late in the evening.
A popular show was "Shoot the Chutes," where elephants
would slide down a specially constructed ramp into a pool of water
at the bottom. Scientific American, Aug 6, 1904 described the
scene this way: "It is more than comical to see the elephants
bravely mount to the top, plant themselves on the slide and make
the wild sweep into the deep pool of water below." By all
accounts, the elephants, especially the younger ones, enjoyed
this as much as the fairgoers enjoyed watching.
Hagenbeck's was also innovative where the wild animals were
concerned. In a foreshadowing of modern zoo, the animals were
housed in "a facsimile of the dens, lairs, mountain fastnesses,
and gorges which the wild animal loves to frequent when roaming
"The whole exhibit is one of the most genuine of its
kind, and the American citizen may see these strange people from
the North housed in their summer tents of sealskin or their winter
'igloos' or snow houses, and engaged, the women in their domestic
duties of sewing, cooking, etc., and the men in their various
feats of skill, whether in the hunt or in their pastimes, of which
they are unusually fond."
--Scientific American, Oct 29, 1904
Nine Eskimo families were brought to the fair to inhabit the
Eskimo village. Also brought with them were their sleds, sealskin
tents, 26 dogs, their hunting and domestic tools, and "Mac,
the wise bear."
Based on the Biblical account of the creation of the world,
the Creation exhibit allowed fairgoers
to float in boats past scenes representing each "day"
of creation, while an unseen speaker provided the narration. I've
yet to find an actual description of the effects used, but the
must have been spectacular judging by the reactions of the fairgoers.
Other Sights at the Pike
Some of the other strange and wondrous sights at the fair
The Infant Incubators, where infants in individual incubators
were tended by nurses.
An ice-skating rink with a daily "snowstorm" (Remember
that this was in 1904, and Summer.)
A Moving Picture Theater where many fairgoers got their first
glimpse of the new medium.
A statue of President Theodore Roosevelt sculpted in butter.
A sculpture of a bear made entirely of prunes.
The Hereafter treated visitors to
a glimpse of what the afterlife might be like.
The Boer War was fought twice daily for the 'amusement' of
We've touched on only a few of the many exhibits the Pike
afforded fairgoers, but you get some idea of what there was to
see and do. The Pike proved so popular that at the end of the
fair, many citizens of St. Louis hoped to make it a permanent
fixture. The plans included the construction of an artificial
beach large enough to accomodate 5000 bathers and a large stadium.
The plan had the backing of such notables as Adolphus Busch (owner
of Anheiser Busch Brewery) who went so far as to purchase the
Tyrolean Alps exhibit to convert into a summer theater and beer
garden. However, the plans for a 'permanent pike' were vigorously
opposed by Washington University, who felt the nearness of the
Pike's attractions would be a siren-like temptation and distraction
to their students, and the plans were eventually abandoned..
Go back to Meet Me At The Fair.
Go forward to Other Sights At The Fair.