The area once known as Gumbo Flats, now referred to as “The Valley” by locals, is home to fine dining, outlet stores, fall pumpkin patches, and a little grove of stalwart pecan trees that has survived the Great Flood and other tests of time. The first tree (the monarch tree) was planted more than a century ago, and the three younger ones around it sprouted from its nuts.
In 1993, when the Midwest was devastated by the Great Flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Chesterfield’s 100-year levee couldn’t withstand the raging waters. As happened in many rural towns and cities, the backwaters seeped in, filling the valley with as much as 15 feet of floodwater that destroyed the area’s farmland and existing businesses.
The businesses may have fallen, but, miraculously, the pecan grove did not.
While the city was rebuilding the area, these trees became protected by a new 500-year levee, and a monarch tree ordinance was passed, preventing commercial development of the land they occupy.
To further protect and celebrate the longevity of the four trees, a half-acre park was built around them, giving both passersby and nearby retail workers a place to rest. In 2016, when the park was dedicated, a fifth tree was planted. In addition, Julie Sesti, a local artist, was commissioned to sculpt a life-sized bronze tribute to the Bayer and Brasher families who once farmed the area and planted the original tree in the 1890s.
For now, the future looks bright for this sturdy cluster of trees. Missouri pecan trees tend to thrive in the nutrient-rich, bottomland “gumbo” soil that this area provides. The largest tree has a trunk circumference of about 14 feet and stands around 70 feet tall. Healthy pecan trees can grow to 100-150 feet tall and yield nuts for up to 225 years, so this tiny park could be offering a nutty snack and a spot of shade for hundreds of years!
Know Before You Go
Legacy Park can be found on a satellite map, but it isn't labeled. The address provided is to the closest building/parking lot. The coordinates, however, do lead to the trees.