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, etc.



"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."




Tyrolean Alps



"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 Will Rogers.




The Cliff Dwellers



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 by non-natives.




Hagenbeck's Animals



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 at large."




The Eskimo Village



"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."




Creation



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 included:

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 the spectators.




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..



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