National Geographic : 1965 Nov
Milky mists of early morning enfold the feet of the growing monument. In the distance, two points. It is structurally the soundest arch of all, in which the thrust passes down ward through the legs and is absorbed by the foundations. I watched men put the monument together much as a child builds with blocks: 12-foot high sections were hoisted one on top of an other and welded together. "On a job this big the welds have to be perfect," a young engi neer at the site told me. "We X-ray every one." Visitors Will Speed Aloft in Capsules St. Louisans are not reluctant to poke fun at the huge arch-the "stupendous hairpin," some call it. The "Yankee leg" is the north one, of course, and the "Rebel leg" is the south. "They'll never get them to join at the top," I heard one sidewalk superintend 616 ent predict direly, crossing his forefingers by way of illustration. Happily, he was wrong. When the arch opens early in 1966, visi tors will ride either of the novel passenger trains (one in each leg) to the 65-foot-long observation room at the top. From the top you'll be able to look east 33 miles across the Illinois prairie, taking in at a glance the turbid Mississippi, the freight yards and grain elevators of East St. Louis, and the spewing smokestacks of industry steelworks, chemical complexes, oil refineries, meat-packing houses, and generating plants. Looking westward across the gentle Missouri hills, the craggy city and suburbia beyond will fill the eye. And beneath the arch, underground, will be a large Visitor Center. The center will feature an extensive Museum of Westward Expansion, still to be constructed.